SSL proxy is an intermediary server using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. It allows the encryption and decryption of data that’s exchanged between the client and the server. SSL proxies are a great way to protect against data leaks and ensure a higher level of anonymity.
The name “SSL proxy” is sometimes used interchangeably with “HTTPS proxy” as the latter abbreviation stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL. It is a secure online data exchange protocol, rapidly replacing the outdated HTTP protocol.
SSL proxies, just like other types, act as middlemen and forward your requests while hiding your IP address and allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions. But since these proxies adopt the SSL protocol, they also encrypt your data. Read on as we discuss what a SSL proxy is, how it works, and why it is useful.
How do SSL proxies work?
When you are trying to access a website, your client (usually a web browser) sends a request to the web server asking for the needed data. Once the server sends the data, the website is loaded.
With SSL encryption, devices start by authenticating one another, exchanging public keys, and generating private session keys. The web server's identity is verified by the client using an SSL certificate, a file containing its public key.
Without the correct certificate, secure SSL connections cannot take place. Most web browsers used today treat a lack of an SSL certificate as a security risk and will warn users before entering such websites.
An SSL proxy server comes in as a dedicated intermediary device that can make SSL encryption possible. It does so by performing necessary actions on the client's and web server's end.
Authentication. By a process known as a Transport Layer Security (TLS) handshake, the SSL proxy server allows the client and server to check whether each party is who they claim to be. At this stage, the web server sends its certificate and private session keys for encryption are established.
Encryption and decryption. The data is encrypted or decrypted using the aforementioned session keys. Since they are inaccessible to third parties, it effectively prevents any unauthorized access to the communication and ensures confidentiality.
Integrity check. Integrity means that the sent data is untampered and not accessed by anyone with malicious intent. It is achieved by generating message authentication codes and comparing them with every recurring request.
What are the types of SSL proxies?
When it comes to proxy types, datacenter and residential are usually the main ones to keep in mind. The first ones are created virtually, without verification from ordinary internet service providers while residential proxies are tied to physical devices and have verified IPs.
Both types can serve as an SSL proxy, but residential ones are a better choice when you need to minimize the risk of IP bans. However, for SSL proxies, it is more important to know on whose behalf the proxy is functioning.
Forward (or client’s side) SSL proxy works on the side of a client as an intermediary between him and an external web server. The main purpose of such a proxy is to initiate SSL sessions and route requests.
Reverse (or server’s side) SSL proxy functions on behalf of a web server as an additional layer of protection. Its central function is to enforce SSL protocol and filter incoming traffic from outside connections.
What are the benefits of SSL proxies?
The HTTP protocol provides only a primitive set of rules for data transfers, which doesn't include essential security measures. So, the benefits of choosing Secure sockets layer proxies over HTTP ones are most evident when we consider the protection measures they bring.
- Better data safety
With the use of certificates and keys, an SSL proxy encrypts the connection for both the client and the web server. In case of an attack or interception from a malicious third party, an SSL proxy would make it virtually impossible to access the data.
HTTP proxies have no encryption - the data is sent in a text-based format (plaintext). Anyone intercepting such transmission could read the data, while with SSL encryption, the requests are sent in an encrypted format (ciphertext) and can be decrypted only with the appropriate key.
- A higher degree of anonymity
An SSL proxy server adds an additional layer of anonymity. The connection must go through enforced authentication and encryption steps, which benefits anonymity as there is a longer route for requests between the client and the server.
While HTTP proxies can also hide your IP address, the anonymity of SSL proxies is far more reliable. Even if the transmission is intercepted, identifying a proxy user is much harder.
Where are SSL proxies used?
An SSL proxy has all the basic functionalities of hiding your IP address and changing geolocation, just with the added benefit of encryption. Therefore, you can use SSL proxies in all scenarios where a proxy server is needed.
- Securing your connection is why most companies and individuals choose SSL proxies. It is becoming a standard for residential proxies, which minimizes the risks of possible data interception. An SSL proxy secures your connection better than HTTP proxies and even some other tools, such as VPNs.
- Accessing restricted content on websites such as YouTube can be a tough challenge. An SSL proxy will allow you to change your IP address and show a different location without compromising security. They will only help you, however, to bypass geographical restrictions. If the video was removed due to copyright reasons, you’re out of luck.
- Ad verification is a way to fight ad fraud and ensure you get the traffic you paid for to advertisers. Fraudsters use various techniques to fake clicks and collect illicit payments. Using an SSL proxy to verify ads and monitor suspicious websites is the most effective countermeasure.
- Web scraping allows the collection of publicly available data with little manual effort. The internet is full of valuable data that can be used to monitor prices, perform market research, generate leads and many other tasks. SSL proxies will enable you to use multiple IPs and bypass geo-restrictions with increased security.
- Brand protection is a constant struggle for companies. They must monitor the internet for copyright infringements, sale of counterfeit products, and misinformation about their brand. SSL proxies not only secure your network from data leaks but can also help to monitor the internet for cases where your brand is at risk.
- Social media automation is crucial for effective online marketing ventures. It saves time when managing multiple accounts and helps achieve faster growth. Automation is impossible without social bots, which websites frequently ban. So an SSL proxy is necessary to hide your IP address, secure the connection, and reduce ban impact.
- Email protection is a way to secure your network with specialized software monitoring and filtering incoming emails from spam and malware. Such a tool needs a proxy server between you and the internet to function, and an SSL proxy is the best choice due to its heightened security and encryption.
- SEO efforts pay off only after some time. The process can be made a bit faster and more successful with the right choice of tools. Most of them, such as top SERP APIs, will require you to use proxies. Residential SSL proxies are the best choice to avoid CAPTCHAs and access different geo-locations.
The main takeaway is that an SSL proxy is an intermediary with reliable encryption. It is a choice of privacy-minded individuals and companies to increase anonymity and better data protection online. SSL proxies can be used in a wide range of scenarios, and, in most cases, they are the best choice.