The average person probably has only a vague understanding of the purpose of a proxy server.

If you’re like most people, you probably associate proxy servers with unblocking Netflix content from other countries or staying a bit more secure on an open WiFi network. The reality, however, is that proxy servers do much more — and are especially vital for businesses.

Proxy servers are a fairly simple intermediary mechanism between a computer with a private IP address and another server on the internet.

A proxy server has its own IP address, which is made public instead. While a rather seemingly insignificant change, the proxy IP address can be used for a number of vital business functions related to everything from security to customer experience.

There are five vital corporate reasons to use proxies that every business leader needs to know about, even if you aren’t involved in the tech side of things.

1. Improve Corporate and Institutional Security

Every company today is worried about hackers. A data breach is costly, both in terms of monetary loss and public image.

A proxy server reduces the chance of a breach. Proxy servers add an additional layer of security between your servers and outside traffic. Because proxy servers can face the internet and relay requests from computers outside the network, they act as a buffer.

While hackers may have access to your proxy, they’ll have trouble reaching the server actually running the web software where your data is stored. You may not be able to fully keep top hackers out with just a proxy IP alone, but you’ll be much less vulnerable.

2. Carry Out Sensitive Tasks Anonymously

Proxies are probably best known for their ability to anonymize web traffic. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize just how important this function is for businesses.

Reporters, whistleblowers and security officers count on the added identity protection offered by proxy servers to protect themselves, sources, their companies, clients and partners.

You can also better protect any current research and development and other company activities.

Any potential spy trying to track web traffic to figure out what your business is developing won’t be able to track your employees as easily if your company always uses a proxy. Any sensitive tasks completed over the internet are more secure when first anonymized through a proxy.

3. Balance Traffic So Your Server Doesn’t Crash

Nothing annoys a customer faster than a company’s website going down when they need it. Proxy servers, cloud data storage and peering improve customer experience by ensuring this doesn’t happen.

Essentially, your website’s data and content is stored across many servers around the world in the cloud, and peering helps your network handle greater traffic. Of course, you can’t ask a customer to try a bunch of ISPs to reach that content.

A proxy server instead is used to create a single web address to serve as the access point. The proxy will also balance the requests to each server so none overloads. All of this works in the background to ensure a seamless customer experience on your website.

4. Control Employee Internet Usage

No company wants employees accessing unsecure or inappropriate websites on company networks. That’s why many internal networks are run on a proxy server.

When the network is accessed through a proxy, network administrators control which devices have access to the network and which sites those devices can visit. You can block undesirable content, as well as any sites you don’t want employees using on company time.

Network administrators can even record what content is being accessed and when for internal purposes. Many security officers use this to monitor for potential illegal activity or security breaches.

5. Faster Speeds and Bandwidth Savings

Due to all the extra work accomplished in the background by proxy servers, most people assume they slow down internet speeds. This isn’t always true.

Proxy servers can easily be used to increase speeds and save bandwidth on a network by compressing traffic, caching files and web pages accessed by multiple users, and stripping ads from websites. This frees up precious bandwidth on busy networks, so your team can access the internet quickly and easily.

Title image by Matthew Wiebe