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Transparent proxy

(also inline proxy, intercepting proxy, forced proxy)

Transparent proxy definition

A transparent proxy is a server positioned between the user’s device and the internet that filters, authenticates, and caches the user’s traffic without any knowledge or setup on their part. Unlike non-transparent proxies, transparent proxies do not modify user requests in any way.

Transparent proxies are configured by the network administrator and are commonly employed to monitor or restrict access to content (for example, in public libraries, universities, or offices).

Real transparent proxy use cases

  • Censorship and monitoring: Companies, public institutions, and even ISPs can use transparent proxies to stop users from accessing unacceptable content (such as adult websites, gambling sites, or torrenting services) on their networks. Transparent proxies also log what websites the user visited and how long they stayed there.
  • Saving bandwidth: Transparent proxies can cache files requested by one user on the network and distribute them later to other users. When another user requests the same file, it will be downloaded from the proxy instead of the source.
  • User authentication: Public Wi-Fi may employ transparent proxies to detect new users and redirect them to the login page with the network’s terms and conditions.