Why Your Business Needs a Proxy Server
We all know the internet is a dangerous place, full of viruses, malware and hackers. Often overlooked in a small business is one of the most costly issues, social media, and the loss of productivity while your employees are entranced in it. We’ve all been guilty of wasting too much time on the internet, getting sidetracked by one link or another. But when your staff is surfing and socializing on the clock, it is costing your business money.
What is a Proxy Server?
Think of a proxy server as the guardian of your network. All traffic outgoing and incoming flows through this device and it has the ability to allow or block any content you choose. It typically sits between your internet connection (cable modem, dsl, etc.) and your network switch. Proxy Servers perform the following tasks :
- Privacy – When an internal user requests a Web page, the request goes through the proxy server so that it appears to the Internet to be coming from the server – from its IP address (or one of them) – and not the user’s device. This anonymity provides an important measure of security by reducing the amount of information about a network and its users easily accessible to hackers on the Internet.
- Caching – If your users frequently need to access certain pages on the Internet, the server can download and store copies on its hard drive. It will also continuously monitor the page for changes and download them, so the cached page is always up to date. If another user requests the content, the proxy server will send it directly to the user, without ever needing to access the internet. This can dramatically increase internet speeds and decrease bandwidth usage.
- Content Filtering / Blocking – Requests from inside your network to different content can be managed. Different policies can be defined for this purpose so that the access to the data is according to the authority of the user. All users access the Internet from the proxy server, so network administrators can block certain pages and limit the amount of accessible websites. This type of filtering is usually done to limit websites either individually or through categories. For instance, some proxy server software blocks whole categories such as entertainment, pornography or gaming sites.
- Monitoring – Whether for legal compliance or for sales and customer service improvement, sometimes it is necessary for management to monitor employee internet access (emails, instant messaging, website usage). A proxy server will give you this ability. You will be able to watch incoming and outgoing communication on your network, all in one place.
- Malware / Virus Protection – A proxy server protects the network from malware, which is installed on users’ computers when they access an infected website. When the malware is installed on the user’s machine, it can spread to other machines on the network. This is a security risk for the company. Documents can be stolen and passwords can be compromised, giving others unauthorized access to the network. Proxy servers can block and monitor web traffic, so the administrator detects suspicious activity even if the user is unaware of the problem.
From our years of experience servicing business computer systems, the biggest 2 costs employers are worried about are wasted manhours (employees on facebook, youtube, pinterest, craigslist, twitter, etc) and repairing / removing viruses and malware from their computers. As a simplified example, if you consider each employee spends at least an hour each day surfing non-productive content at an average salary of 30k/year. Each employee is wasting 250 hours a year * $15/hr = $3750. Now multiply that by the number of employees you have and the cost to setup a proxy server and yearly antivirus/malware subscription is a no brainer. Imagine how much work would get done if each employee had an extra 200 hours each year to work.
Proxy Servers come in all different sizes with different feature sets. Give us a call today to get a free estimate on setting one up in your business.