Why are Proxy Servers Important for Cybersecurity?
Date: 17 February 2022
Statistics point to a growing number of cybercrime cases across the world, which has led to unprecedented losses for both businesses and individuals. Fortunately, one can deploy different techniques to protect themselves against cyber threats and at least mitigate some of the damage they can cause.
One of these techniques is using cybersecurity proxies. But how can you use proxies for cybersecurity? In this blog, we aim to answer this vital question.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report, the United States had more than 790,000 complaints of suspected internet crime in 2020, resulting in losses in excess of $4.2 billion. The reported cases included investment fraud, email phishing, ransomware attacks and more.
Globally, losses from cybercrime are reportedly approaching $1 trillion since 2018 ($945 billion to be exact), according to a 2020 report. The losses and number of cases likely increased in 2021 and are bound to continue growing well into the future, based on analysts’ predictions.
These statistics point to cybercrime as an ever-growing problem affecting the entire world. Cybercrime covers a plethora of unauthorized activities, many of which can hurt businesses by either usurping part of their revenue or soiling their reputation. From a user’s perspective, cybercrime can also lead to losses of hard-earned income or breach of their personal data and sensitive information.
With proxy servers, however, both businesses and individuals can protect themselves.
What is a Proxy Server?
A proxy, also known as a proxy server, is an intermediary, either virtual or real, through which all internet traffic from your computer or a web server is routed. The proxy assigns requests from your computer to a new IP address, thereby anonymizing your browsing experience. In a world where internet fraud cases rampantly involve identity theft, proxies’ can go a long way in protecting you identity. In fact, cybersecurity proxies are used in myriad applications.
Types of Proxies for Cybersecurity Operations
To protect your home or business against cybercriminals, you can choose between residential proxies and datacenter proxies. Datacenter proxies are fast. They also offer unlimited bandwidth, high performance, and unmatched uptime.
On the other hand, residential proxies are ideal in situations where you intend to remain completely undetected by taking up an individual’s/actual person’s IP address. Residential proxies offer access to geo-restricted content/websites that would have been otherwise inaccessible if a location-specific IP address were not used. Notably, and as we will detail later, you can also use reverse proxies and transparent proxies for cybersecurity operations.
In this regard, each of these types is only ideal for specific use cases. That said, how do each of these proxies find their utility in cybersecurity operations? Let's answer this in a little more detail.
How are Proxies Used in Cybersecurity?
You can use cybersecurity proxies for the following operations:
- Protection against email phishing
- Brand/identity theft protection
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection
- Preventing ransomware attacks and data breaches
- Malware protection
1. Protection against Email Phishing
Email phishing refers to a form of cybercrime where criminals impersonate organisations through emails or text messages. They do this in order to steal money or credentials of users’ accounts. In addition, email phishing may also lead to malware and ransomware attacks, leading to millions of dollars in losses.
To prevent this, organisations can use proxy servers. Proxies for email protection facilitate seamless scraping, which checks emails for harmful content or links. As a result, they prevent dangerous emails from reaching inboxes. It is worth noting that datacenter proxies are preferred for this task due to their high performance, speed, and uptime.
Apart from using proxies, businesses should also invest in adequate ransomware protection. Our ransomware readiness checklist is a great place to start. Those organisations that are really serious about their cybersecurity posture would also do well to test their incident response plans with specific ransomware tabletop exercises.
2. Brand/Identity Theft Protection
Counterfeiting is a scourge that costs businesses billions in lost revenue. Perpetrators of this crime undertake brand or identity theft. First, they create fake products that they then package using registered trademarks of known brands and companies. Finally, the counterfeiters sell the products as genuine through either e-commerce outlets or brick-and-mortar stores.
Fortunately, companies can monitor listings of the said products using proxy servers. In fact, proxies offer access to geo-blocked websites. Here’s how - Usually, proxy service providers have a vast pool of IP addresses for each proxy type. These pools contain IP addresses from different geographical locations. As such, by using proxy servers, companies access content that is meant to be shown to residents of particular countries.
This, coupled with datacenter proxies’ performance and speed attributes, helps businesses protect their brands. It is noteworthy that for this particular application, datacenter proxies are better than residential proxies.
3. Prevention of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to cripple a website’s operations. An attacker usually sends an extraordinary number of requests – more than the server is capable of handling – hence overwhelming it.
To prevent DDoS attacks, businesses should use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a network of proxy servers distributed in different areas. Each of the proxies within the CDN usually has the website’s content. Thus, a visitor wishing to access the site gets connected to the nearest proxy, from where they will download the desired content.
At the same time, reverse proxies can prevent DDoS attacks. A reverse proxy is located on the server’s end of the internet connection. This protects the server against attacks by storing regularly accessed web pages in a cache for easy retrieval upon request. It is created by configuring the server accordingly.
4. Prevention of Attacks and Data Breaches
It is noteworthy that phishing extends beyond emails. Cybercriminals often set up entire scam phishing websites whose URLs resemble businesses’ actual URLs. In Q1 2021 alone, a total of 611,877 phishing sites were recorded, up by 269% compared to Q1 2020.
Such sites aim to harvest credentials from unsuspecting users. With fast and powerful datacenter proxies, however, companies can undertake web scraping to identify and stop phishing sites from operating.
5. Malware Protection
Companies can use transparent proxies to block websites that contain malware. This type of proxy allows users to connect to other secure websites. In this regard, users may not notice their existence in a network, hence the name transparent proxies.
Proxy servers offer an extra layer of protection against scams and internet fraud. Importantly, you can use different types of proxies for cybersecurity operations. However, some, like the datacenter proxies, are preferred because of their speed, high uptime, and unmatched performance. That said, you can also use reverse proxies and transparent proxies to protect your servers or network against DDoS attacks and malware attacks, respectively.