What Is An SSL Proxy Server?

What Is An SSL Proxy Server?

What Is An SSL Proxy Server? 150 150 admin

The most well-known proxy servers are data centre and residential proxies, but are you aware of SSL and HTTPS proxy servers?

And if you are, do you know about the differences between SSL and HTTPS proxies and other proxy servers?

Internet Security

What is SSL?

SSL is an acronym for ‘Secure Socket Layer’, a protocol (set of rules) designed to encrypt network communication between a client and a server, such as over the internet. This protocol works regardless of any differences between the connected devices’ hardware or software.

Oddly enough, SSL was deprecated back in 2015 and finally replaced by TLS (Transport Layer Security), which has been around since 1999. However, TLS as a phrase has never really taken off, and pretty much everyone still says SSL.

To throw even more confusion into the mix, SSL proxy servers are also known as HTTPS proxies.

HTTPS stands for ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL’. HTTPS is a protocol that runs on top of SSL and uses SSL to encrypt the communication that runs between a client and a web server.

Ultimately, the point of SSL, TLS and HTTPS is to offer a very high level of security and privacy for websites and end-users. SSL/TLS/HTTPS is the industry standard for internet security, and your browser should warn you when trying to access any sites that don’t hold a valid SSL certificate.

How do SSL proxy servers differ from other proxy servers?

The most popular and well-known proxy servers are residential proxy servers and data centre proxy servers.

Data centre proxies perform the most basic task: hardware acting as a gateway between your device and the internet. These are very handy if you need to hide behind a different IP address or look as if your queries originate from another location. However, data centre proxies tend to be HTTP servers. In and of themselves, they tend not to offer any additional security, though they do genuinely exist as hardware.

Conversely, residential proxy servers aren’t proxies in the truest sense. They don’t exist as dedicated hardware. A residential proxy is an IP address provided by an ISP (internet service provider) through which a device, such as a mobile phone or laptop, owned by a third-party in a residence (hence ‘residential’), connects to the internet.

The actual gateway here is the device using the residential IP address at the same time that you need to push your requests through the same residential IP address. Your queries are routed through this device rather than a dedicated piece of hardware. As your requests pass through an unknown device controlled by an unknown third party, residential proxy servers aren’t suitable for secure transactions or requests where privacy is a concern.

SSL proxy servers differ as they are dedicated and optimised hardware. They remove any concern about data interception by third parties with residential proxy servers and offer security absent from data centre proxy servers.

What are the benefits of SSL proxies?

SSL proxies have two distinct advantages:

  • Security – SSL does not prevent interception of your actual data stream, but SSL does encrypt that traffic. So any third parties, such as hackers, won’t be able to read it. This encryption ensures that any sensitive information, bank details, passwords, etc., all remain secure.
  • Enhanced Anonymity – A fundamental requirement of any proxy server is to hide your IP address. However, HTTP offers no security; it just passes your information straight through, which leaves your traffic visible to anyone that can intercept it. The encryption layer provided by SSL serves to enhance your anonymity. As all of your traffic is indecipherable, it minimises the possibility of any identifiable information being made available.

How do SSL proxy servers work?

A regular proxy server sits in-between a user’s computer and the internet. However, there’s typically no encryption when using the proxy server itself.

SSL proxies authenticate a server’s SSL certificate then replicate it, allowing a web browser to confirm a web server’s identity and enabling a secure connection between client and server.

Once completed, the SSL protocol utilises unique encryption keys to encrypt and decrypt the data stream between client and server.

The result is that communications are secure, private, and anyone with malicious intent can’t intercept your web traffic.

What are SSL proxy servers used for?

As SSL proxies are still proxy servers, the use cases are often the same as any other proxy type. However, as they offer more security and anonymity than residential, data centre and HTTP servers, they are often preferred.

Those use cases include:

  • Accessing blocked websites – Some websites block users from other countries. This approach is often justified by:
    • A streaming provider protecting territorial rights to the content they offer. For example, Netflix content differs by user location because of the distribution agreements they have with film and TV studios.
    • Forcing a customer to purchase from a retailer’s local site, rather than allow them to order from a neighbouring country where prices may be lower.
    • Blocking access due to the illegality of their services in specific locations, such as with gambling.
    • Restricting user access from other locations if there’s no relevance to them, such as government bodies. Although this is often to prevent malicious access from other countries.
  • Providing A Secure Connection – Keeping your web traffic safe over the internet is more important than ever. Using SSL proxies provides the industry-standard security that you don’t find with HTTP proxies and removes potential problems with data interception that residential proxies may bring.
  • Anonymity – Your IP address identifies your location online. If you need to hide it for any reason, a proxy server is required. An SSL proxy is preferred over an HTTP proxy, as the SSL tunnel helps suppress your data and increases your anonymity level.
  • Running multiple social media accounts – Social media companies forbid registering and running multiple accounts from one IP address. To do so runs the risk of any accounts you create being closed. Proxy servers are required to circumvent this so that you can manage your socials safely. Ideally, you need to run with one IP address for each customer you have.
  • Brand protection – Hacks and malicious attacks can severely damage businesses. These attacks can result in financial losses, exposed customer data, and a loss of confidence in future investors. Not to mention a significant blow to your reputation, which could take years to repair. SSL proxies can help you protect your business by increasing security over networks.
  • Ad verification – Complex and sophisticated methods are used by hackers to manipulate and falsify ad traffic. A significant percentage of ads are never viewed by your target audience or even individuals. That can significantly increase your costs and decrease your ROI. Many companies now use SSL proxies to detect these fraudulent practices and improve performance by checking advertisers’ landing pages anonymously.
  • Web scraping – There is a vast amount of publicly available data online. Much of this information is valuable to a variety of stakeholders. However, obtaining this information can be difficult. Although the information may be public, most sites have anti-scraping defences that push back against large scale data collation. The easiest way to prevent scraping is by blocking IP addresses that make a consistently high amount of requests. This is where a pool of multiple proxy servers is helpful. You can distribute your requests throughout the pool so you can stay under the radar of your target site.

Summary

SSL proxies are ideal for both individuals and organisations to alleviate any security or privacy concerns. With the versatility on offer, SSL proxies are suitable for a wide range of requirements.

Get in touch with us and see how we can help you gather the data you need while maintaining your security and privacy when performing your scraping.

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