HyperText Standard Protocol (HTTP) is the de-facto standard protocol for working with webpages and data on the internet today. HTTPS is the secure protocol extension to HTTP that includes variable strength encryption to the transmission.
The casual user may think that this security is sufficient, but safeguarding sensitive information is paramount in our modern cloud computing age.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune increasing your security when browsing the web and conducting critical transactions online. An HTTPS proxy can add a crucial extra layer of protection when you need it most.
HTTPS proxies work in various ways to enhance your security and privacy online. You might assume that an HTTPS proxy functions exactly as a standard HTTP proxy, but several critical differences exist.
Because HTTPS implements encryption, it prevents any middle-man from listening in on the connection. Therefore, by design, HTTPS does not inherently play nicely with regular proxies. While the process may seem identical to an end-user, your browser must jump through some hoops to establish a secure proxy connection.
The first step in the process involves contacting the server over a designated TCP port. These port numbers may seem arbitrary, and to some extent, they are, although a server administrator may map out specific ports for particular uses. Additionally, certain ports are standard, such as port 23 for POP3 mail and port 80 for normal web browsing.
Next, the security handshake process starts. Handshaking typically utilizes two standard encryption schemes— Transport Layer Security (TLS) or the older Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The idea behind these standards is to establish a “trust chain” where each link the messaging route is identified and verified.
These encryption methods exclude any third parties from eavesdropping on the communication between the client and server. Thus, the handshake process will usually fail against a proxied connection.
An HTTPS proxy completes the handshake process using various methods, such as passive exclusion, authoritative inclusion, or dynamic.
For passive exclusion, a proxy will remove itself from the chain of trust entirely by relaying all handshake messages directly to the client, as-is. This method is not as secure because all data associated with the handshake will not benefit from the proxy’s encryption layer.
Authoritative inclusion is available when the proxy has SSL or TLS credentials and can act as a secure secondary server. This kind of HTTPS proxy establishes a security sub-layer between itself and the client. This method provides more protection during the handshake process.
As you might imagine, a dynamic HTTPS proxy can perform either of these methods depending on the situation. Dynamic HTTPS proxies are usually the preferred option since they offer the most compatibility with various servers.
A typical HTTP or HTTPS session is relatively straightforward. Your device will connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), who will assign your device a unique IP address that identifies you on the internet. Every device from computer to cellphone connected to the internet has an IP address by which devices communicate.
A typical connection scenario would look like the example below, where a client connects to their ISP, facilitating communication across the internet.
The above diagram is a representation of a regular non-proxy internet connection. The critical detail about this diagram is that the client (your device) is not protected. Your IP address, location, and machine details are visible and available for anyone to see. In this example, the ISP is merely a bridge across the internet, not a shield.
Now, let’s take a look at an HTTPS proxy connection:
In this diagram, the proxy intercepts traffic coming from your device and relays it to the server and vice-versa. Thus, the proxy provides a layer of encryption otherwise unavailable in a standard connection.
Additionally, the proxy conceals your actual IP address, geographic area, and machine details because the server only communicates directly with the proxy.
You can configure proxy settings on a per-device basis or globally on your local network at the router level. The exact steps to set up each device vary depending on your operating system and hardware. Refer to our guides for setting up a proxy for simple walkthroughs.
Keep in mind that the proxy will theoretically ‘see’ every piece of data that it relays between the client and server. You must trust the proxy (and the proxy provider) with such data. You should thoroughly vet a provider you intend to use with sensitive data.
At IPRoyal, understand the critical role that proxies play in your digital security, and we’re also one of the most trusted suppliers on the market. We are incredibly proud of the excellent reputation and TrustPilot score we have maintained over the years. You can rest assured that we take your trust in us and our responsibility for your data seriously.