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How Does a Proxy Server Differ from a Packet-Filtering Firewall?

Dave Miller with Online Cloud Security

Dave Miller – Tech Enthusiast & Security Expert – July 6th, 2022

how does a proxy server differ from a packet-filtering firewall

Every organization’s main issue is network security, but two crucial concepts are frequently employed and two necessary terminologies that become misunderstood as many wonder how does a proxy server differ from a packet-filtering firewall. But as you should or already know, these two factors are essential for network security since they aid enterprises in limiting and blocking access to particular networks. Providing the needed protection against emerging network cyber threats. Since nearly all businesses dread the rise in cyberattacks, cyber security is our main topic of discussion.

Proxy Servers vs Packet-Filtering Firewalls: What are the Differences?

Proxy Server vs Packet-Filtering Firewall - Quick Comparison:

Packet-Filtering Firewall

Proxy Server

Monitors and filters all local network traffic, including incoming and outgoing.

Establishes a connection between the external client and the server. So to mediate and connects on behalf of the user to get data.

It operates on data from the network and transport layers.

It operates on Application layer data

It operates at the packet and block levels, allowing IP traffic to get through.

It works with client-side connection requests and hides your local computer network from the Internet to route and regulate application-level traffic.

The overhead caused by a firewall is higher since it serves as a critical source of permission for whether a particular request may enter a network or not.

When compared to a firewall, the overhead caused by a proxy server is minimal. Because it employs caching, it receives fewer requests, and requested data does not need to be loaded repeatedly.

Continue reading the post to learn the fundamental distinctions between proxy servers and packet-filtering firewalls and the benefits they will provide for you and your business.

Network Security – Rise of Cyberattacks

As the computer network expands more quickly due to the Internet’s rapid evolution, cyberattacks on any network are also rising. Therefore, data in transit via a network connection is secure and authenticated, thanks to network security protocols. The techniques and methodology used to protect network data from unauthorized attempts to access the data get primarily defined as these protocols. An effective network security system may increase system performance, secure sensitive data, and keep procedures operating smoothly.

Fact: According to University of Maryland research estimates, more than 2,200 cyberattacks are daily, equating to a hack occurring every 39 seconds. That affects one in three Americans annually.

Similar, If you work with networks, you could already be familiar with various types of network security. Yes, we are referring to the packet-filtering firewall and proxy server. These two differ in terms of their functions and purposes. Yet, they are frequently both necessary for the security of any network.

The question still remains how does a proxy server differ from a packet-filtering firewall? Which of the following is the best device to deploy to protect your network remain.

Packet Filtering Firewall vs Proxy Server

To better understand how does a proxy server differ from a packet-filtering firewall, I will walk you over many aspects, such as their fundamental definition, functions, and benefits.

Packet Filtering Firewall

Packet Filtering Firewall example

Data stream to and from a network gets controlled by packet filtering firewalls and gets considered a network security method. It functions at the networking layer of the OSI model, examining and testing each packet, which contains user control and data information per a set of pre-defined criteria. Packet-filtering firewalls are incredibly quick since their judgments get not based on much reasoning.

As a result, the filtering rules set by network-level firewalls in a packet filtering firewall tend to be quite effective in providing security measures. Packet filtering is a necessary and economical defence that frequently succeeds in thwarting attacks from a system outside a local area network.

Note: Packet-filtering firewalls are not entirely secure, and it is because they will transmit any traffic passing on an authorized port. So when a malicious communication may get sent, as far as it is on an appropriate port, this will not be banned.

Proxy Server

how proxy servers work

A proxy server can be a computer system or router that acts as a gateway between the client and the server. Proxies add an extra layer of protection to your computer. It is a filtration tool that restricts access to specific websites within an organization. It operates by receiving and transmitting connection requests before providing the desired data. It also enables caching, which caches previously searched webpages to reduce server load and improve latency. A proxy server also increases security by masking a computer’s IP address on your local area network, making it even more difficult for scammers to get access.

Note: Millions of individuals worldwide utilize free proxy services to circumvent restrictions, giving server administrators unrestricted access to your data. It means they have the opportunity to sell your confidential info to cybercriminals without your knowledge, putting you in danger of identity theft and other cybercrimes.

Don’t mistake a VPN with a proxy server due to their possible similarity. A VPN, rather than functioning with a single app or website, works with every site you access or app you use. A proxy, on the other hand, only works with one app or website. VPNs can be valuable, but they aren’t necessarily required for every individual or scenario, particularly now that much web data is encrypted.

How Does A Proxy Server Differ From A Packet-Filtering Firewall – Explained

Now that we’ve established the definition of a proxy server and a packet-filtering firewall, I can explain how does a proxy server differ from a packet-filtering firewall.

A firewall analyzes and censors all incoming and outgoing network access requests. In contrast, a proxy server facilitates and links a local computer to a server to receive data on a user’s behalf. So one restricts connections from unapproved networks, while the other enables network connections. Put another way, a firewall filters IP packets, and the proxy server examines the queries it gets.

The implementation location is another critical difference between the proxy server and a firewall. A packet-filtering firewall often gets used at the network’s entry point, but a proxy server can reside on any machine in your network. The firewall server handles network and transport layer data, and the proxy server manipulates application layer data. Nevertheless, a proxy server is also considered a component of a firewall.

So, I would say instead of looking at them separately; they may establish a secure network that prevents illegal access, offers practicality, and increases efficiency when both get used together.

But the goal of the user or organization will determine whether a proxy server or a packet filtering firewall gets used. So, let’s look at when to use a packet-filtering firewall and proxy server.

When To Use a Proxy Server & Packet-Filtering Firewall

The ordinary individual only has a clear idea of or packet-filtering firewall or proxy server. So, if you ignored the preceding section of this post and are only interested in when to utilize them, let me lay out some information for you.

Proxy Server

Packet-Filtering Firewall

Firewalls are an integral component of your company’s security system, and without which, your network is vulnerable to attacks. Below are some reasons you would want to use a packet-filtering firewall.

Proxy Server vs Packet-Filtering Firewall: Bottom Line

Cyberattacks have become a complicated problem for today’s cyber security specialists. To lessen the chance of a cyberattack, or hacking, you must strengthen your security when you use numerous levels of security, enabling risk reduction while enhancing production.

You now better know the fundamental distinction between a proxy server and a packet-filtering firewall. Although these two have many parallels, their roles also have significant variances. They both shine at specific tasks, making them valuable in different contexts—the primary distinction boils down to their application.

Because a proxy server is part of the firewall, you may wish to utilize them in conjunction with the firewall to receive the most protection. If not, just keep in mind that firewalls are frequently used on the networks to protect them, and proxies get frequently used to improve a user’s anonymity or gain access to something they previously could not. But since the firewall gets installed on your local workstation, it is the first line of protection.

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Dave Miller with Online Cloud Security

Dave Miller

IT Consultant at Online Cloud Security

Dave Miller is an IT Consultant for Online Cloud Security and has over 7 years of experience in the Information Technology space. He also specializes in repairing laptops & computers. In his spare time, he loves to talk about new technologies and hosts monthly IT and Cyber Security meetings in the Houston area.

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Online Cloud Security is here to recommend you the most secure devices, from laptops to smartphones, we only want to provide you with products that we have tested and used ourselves for online security. Every product that we recommend is heavily inspected and tested for security against hackers, viruses, malware, and any other intruders that may want to steal your information. 

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Online Cloud Security Logo (500x500px)

About Online Cloud Security

Online Cloud Security is here to recommend you the most secure devices, from laptops to smartphones, we only want to provide you with products that we have tested and used ourselves for online security. Every product that we recommend is heavily inspected and tested for security against hackers, viruses, malware, and any other intruders that may want to steal your information. 

Recent Posts: