Why Use a Proxy Server?
by Chris Sobeck
If you are running a business you will most likely want to keep your employees productive. Your IT Manager should be working with the business to create a policy about which content is allowed from the internet and what is not. Once these definitions are made, IT administrators can employ the policy by creating whitelists and blacklists. A whitelist is a list of allowed website domains and a blacklist is just the opposite. Most administrators will tend to populate the blacklist with websites such as facebook.com, youtube..com and ebay.com because they can be a distraction and create huge bandwidth spikes because of streaming multimedia content. Once these lists are put into place then it tends to solve those problems mentioned above. The question you might have is how are they enforced? Well there are just a couple of ways. In a business that has fewer than ten clients it may be feasible to manage the lists with Internet Explorer content advisor. I do not recommend this because it requires and administrator to sit down and add the lists manually. Also when another site needs to be blocked or allowed they will have to manually update every machine. So, you might want to use a GPO if your computers are connected to Active Directory to push these lists out when a user logs in. This is good too because one person might be posting content to FaceBook for the company and this can be allowed only for that specific user. There is still one more problem with this. If your organization tends to use multiple browsers it may be difficult to control non-Microsoft products with a GPO. For a medium sized to a large corporation the best solution is using a proxy server to employ the lists. The reason you want to use a proxy is that it can be placed on the network before the gateway so that outgoing connections can be filtered. When the lists are on a proxy server it means that no clients on the network will need to be individually updated and that you won’t be limited to just making your users browse the web with Internet Explorer only. The administrator can update lists without interfering with the user. They can also allow certain machines to bypass filtering by indicating the machine’s IP address and a user can also request temporary access to a site if it is justified to complete their work. So if you want to do things efficiently and have some extra money, a proxy server is a very cheap solution to this problem.
about the author
More about Chris Sobeck:
A founding member of Security Mecca that believes that the best way we can support America's network infrastructure is to generate awareness. Striving to be a future IT Manager for a Fortune 500 corporation, Chris is now studying at Western Michigan University. Chris' specific areas of expertise is IT Consulting and Web Design.
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