Transparent Proxy vs Explicit Proxy: Which Is Best ?

Transparent Proxy vs Explicit Proxy: Which Is Best ? In this guide, we introduce both Transparent and Explicit proxy, their advantages. After that we point you to a decision about which one is best for your organization.

So, then are you having trouble deciding between an explicit proxy and a transparent proxy for the network of your company? Importantly, both proxies offer their benefits and drawbacks. So choosing the best one for your company is challenging. But we compare the two proxies in detail, in terms of security, performance, visibility, and other factors.

Shall we start with our article Transparent Proxy vs Explicit Proxy: Which Is Best ?

Understanding Proxies

First of all, a Proxy Server is an intermediary between a client device and the internet. The main role of a proxy server is to transmit requests and responses from the client to the destination server. It also helps prevent cyber attackers from making their way into the private network.

Any organization shall use it for improving performance or controlling access to resources. In order for proxies to function, requests from clients must be sent on the client’s behalf to the target server. The response is sent back to the client by the proxy after the destination server responds to the proxy. As a result, proxies serve as a barrier between clients and servers, adding functionality and security.

In fact, proxies accelerate response times and save network traffic by caching frequently used the information to enhance performance. Transparent proxies and explicit proxies are the two types of proxies that are used in organization.

What is Transparent Proxies?

Transparent proxies, also known as reverse or inline proxies, are set up to intercept and redirect all internet traffic without any further client device configuration. It does not modify requests and is set up without using any of your software or configurations. A well known transparent proxy tool is Squid Transparent Proxy Server.

These are also referred to as forced proxies because attackers implement them into a user’s connection without requiring any changes to their computer’s proxy settings.

If you use the internet frequently, it’s likely that you mostly interact with transparent proxies without even realizing it. When you access well known websites, movies, and news articles, chances are your internet service provider employs transparent proxies. The client is unaware that its traffic is being snooped upon and transmitted by the proxy because they operate in a “transparent” manner.

Not all transparent proxies are malicious, but they do sit between users and the web to snoop on internet traffic and redirect it to another location without the user’s consent.

If you want to track, if you’re using transparent proxy, try connecting to a server. If there isn’t a proxy, your browser displays a standard error message. Chrome reports that it cannot access the website because it cannot locate the IP address. If you are using a proxy, the error may vary or you go to another page, like a search page.

Advantages of Transparent Proxy

  • Easy to deploy and does not require any client side configuration.
  • Allows performing content filtering and caching without configuration on the client side.
  • Ability to eavesdrop on any application routed to its three way handshake.

Disadvantages of Transparent Proxy

  • Less secure than explicit proxies.
  • Gaining access to sensitive information is much easier as the client is unaware of the proxy.
  • It is impossible to authenticate traffic that needs to avoid SSL interception.

Security Implications of Transparent Proxy

  • Transparent proxies intercept and inspect all incoming and outgoing traffic. This might also raise major privacy issues, especially if a malicious actor is running the proxy.
  • An attacker may perform a MITM attack and inject malicious code or steal sensitive information with transparent proxies.
  • It may introduce latency and other performance issues.

What is Explicit Proxies?

Explicit Proxies demand that the client must be set up to enter a proxy’s IP and port specifically. As a result, whenever the application needs to send traffic, the packet’s destination IP and destination port always be those of the proxy. Therefore, the client needs to be set up to route all of its internet traffic through the proxy.

Unlike other proxies, it provides administrators more control over network traffic by enabling them to enact regulations, track user behaviour, and filter content. Also, they enforce policies and prevent data breaches. In fact, administrators modify explicit proxies to match the unique requirements of the network.

Advantages of Explicit Proxies

  • Offers more granular control over internet traffic.

Disadvantages of Explicit Proxies

  • Hard to deploy than a transparent proxy.
  • It takes a while to set up clients to use the proxy.
  • High risk of misconfiguration.

Security Implications of Explicit Proxies

  • Attackers use man-in-the-middle (MITM) techniques to inject malicious code and target explicit proxies.

Differences Between Transparent and Explicit Proxies

In comparison, explicit proxies and transparent proxies function similarly, yet differ in many ways. This section compares the two types of proxies depending on their performance, security, configuration, etc.

 1. Performance: Since Transparent proxies do not require any client side configuration, they are faster and more effective than explicit proxies. However, if you do not configure them properly, they potentially cause latency and other performance problems.

2. Control: Explicit proxies provide administrators more granular control over network traffic by enabling them to impose rules, track user behaviour, and filter content. On the other hand, transparent proxies have less control over network traffic and are frequently employed for caching and load balancing.

3. Security: In comparison to Transparent Proxies, Explicit Proxies offer better security features. With Explicit Proxies, administrators enforce policies as well as filter content. On the other hand, Transparent Proxies might put users’ data in danger by intercepting and inspecting it without their awareness/consent.

4. Visibility: When using a transparent proxy, the client is not aware that their traffic is being sent to another destination. However, when using an explicit proxy, the client is aware that their traffic is being sent through the proxy server.

5. Configuration: Explicit proxies require the client to explicitly specify their network settings to use the proxy server. However, transparent proxies run transparently and do not require any client side configuration.

Which Proxy Type is a Best Fit for Your Company?

After going through our above discussion what do you think? Which proxy is the best fit for your organization? It is best to decide depending on your specific needs and requirements.

A transparent proxy is best option for your business, if content filters and ease of implementation are your top priorities. However, an explicit proxy is preferable, if security is your top priority and you require fine grained control over internet traffic.

Basically, Explicit Proxies are a bit more secure and offer administrators full control over network traffic. Administrators even modify explicit proxies to match the unique requirements of the network.

Both proxies have advantages and disadvantages, and none is a perfect option for every situation. The proxy that best satisfies your unique needs and requirements depends on your evaluation of those needs and requirements.

Thank you for reading the article Transparent Proxy vs Explicit Proxy: Best for Your Organization? We shall conclude this topic now. 

Transparent Proxy vs Explicit Proxy: Which Is Best ? Conclusion

Finally, explicit and transparent proxies have their own benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, where transparent proxies are quick to configure, they may not be as secure as explicit proxies in terms of content filter and caching. Although they are more difficult to deploy.Contrarily, explicit proxies offer better security and finer grained control over internet traffic.

The majority of internet users interact daily with transparent proxies without being aware of it. With transparent proxies, attackers snoop on internet traffic and redirect the user to another location. These types of proxies are most common in the government, corporate offices, and educational institutions.

Lastly, it’s crucial to assess your unique wants and requirements before choosing between the two proxies and going with the option that best satisfies them. Go through our above listed benefits, drawbacks, and security implication of an easy type of proxy before coming to any conclusion. Compare the two proxies depending on configuration, visibility, security, performance, and control.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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