Proxy Servers : When they work and when they fail!

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surfing in disguiseWe were looking over analytics today and were amused by a few surprises it threw up. First were the ‘Nasty Chewbacca’ and ‘using term loosely’ searches that led people to our website and the second was the unwavering insistence from a company to use hidemyass to access our website.

As you know, we’ll use any inspiration for a post from the Apprentice to Alan Partridge to our Silver Surfing family members. So our visitor inspired us to write about proxy servers – why they are used and when they can fail!

Who uses a proxy server and why?

A proxy server can be used for all manner of reasons. For example, if you are behind a firewall that stops access to certain websites such as Hotmail etc then using a proxy server will let you access that website as it ‘hides’ the site you are visiting. For instance, while working with a University, they were unable to access our site from a certain department. We sent them to a proxy server and they got through.

Proxy servers can also be used for privacy. For example, say you are looking through a competitors or a suppliers website and don’t want them to see, then a proxy server can help hide your location and let you surf anonymously. However, it is worth noting that the concept of surfing anonymously can be let down under certain circumstances…

When Proxy servers fail.

You may be asking to yourself how we confidently started this post referring to one company using a proxy and how we could possibly know. Well here’s how…

If you are looking at a website via your own dedicated server and you have called that server something (such as your company name) then your name will appear in the Network Locations section of Google Analytics. If this is happening on a daily basis for instance, then you will easily start to see a pattern. You can then tally up the visit information of the Hidemyass’er and the visit time in the network location log and after a short period be able to see what’s what! It’s that simple 🙂 Maybe not 100% foolproof but it’s interesting keep an eye on and amusing to see the results 😉

Happy surfing!

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