A proxy is also known as proxy server software that acts as an intermediary between client and a server on the internet. Without the use of a proxy, a user would send a request to the item to an online server and the server will deliver the resource directly to the user. Though this approach is simple to comprehend and implement the addition of proxies could provide advantages in terms of enhanced performance, privacy, security, and more. In addition to adding a layer of security they also serve as a security safeguard for the internet between servers and clients.

The consensus is that the collection of servers and the hardware that is used along with proxy software are also called proxy servers. However, this article will be focusing on proxies typically classified as software, and in the context of web servers. This article will give a synopsis of the two main types, namely which are a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type has its own use that can cause confusion due to the same name convention.

This article will provide you with an idea of the nature of proxies and what subtypes they are and how they work in the typical setups. In the article you’ll be able to determine the situations that are the best to use a proxy, and make the right choice between forward and reverse proxy for any scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

In the same way a forward proxy, also referred to as open proxy. In other words, an open proxy serves as the representative of a customer who wishes to make an internet-based request to an origin server. In this situation, any request from the client’s side will be sent directly to the forward proxy. This forward proxy in the in the place of the customer will review the request. First, it will determine if this client is authorized to receive requests from this particular forward proxy. It will then decide if it is authorized to reject an request and send it back to the server that originally received it. The client isn’t able to have direct access to the internet. It only has access to what the forward proxy permits the client access.

The most common reason to utilize forward proxy servers is to gain greater privacy or security on the internet. Forward proxy allows you to connect to the internet in instead of a client and in this manner it can employ an IP address that is different from the IP address originally that the client uses.

Based on the way it was previously configured forward proxy servers are able to give you a variety of options. They allow you to:

Forward proxies may also be employed in systems that offer centralized security and permission based access, such as in the workplace. When all internet traffic passes through an open forward proxy layer administrators can restrict access to only those clients who are that are filtered through a common firewall. Instead of putting firewalls in place for the client layer that could include a variety of devices that are different in environments and users, the firewall could be placed within the forward proxy layer.

Note that the forward proxy setting have to be manually set up to function in reverse proxies, whereas forward proxies are able to be disregarded by clients. Depending on the type of IP address of a client is sent to the origin server via forward proxy privacy and anonymity could be granted or not.

There are a variety of possibilities to consider for forward proxies:

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy acts as a representation of web servers, which handles the incoming requests of clients. Web servers can comprise one server or several servers. Also, it could be used as an application server such as Gunicorn. In any of these scenarios, an application request comes from a user via the internet in general. Most of the time, the request will be directly sent to the server that hosts the information the client wants. Reverse proxy, however, acts as an intermediary, shielding Web server from any direct contact with the web’s public.

From a consumer’s point perspective, which is also a user’s viewpoint, interfacing with a reverse proxy is identical to working with an internet server direct. It’s exactly the same however the client is unable to be able to discern the distinction. The client asks for an item and receives it, with no additional configuration required by the client.

Reverse proxies can provide features such as:

While central security is an advantage for both forward and reverse proxy servers, reverse proxy providers offer this benefit only to the server layer, it is not available to the client layer. Instead of maintaining firewalls at Web server layers which may contain many servers with different configurations, the bulk of the firewall security is concentrated on reverse proxy layers. Also, the removal of the responsibility of interacting with firewalls and also interacting with requests from clients outside of web servers allows them to concentrate on serving the needs of their customers.

If there are multiple servers being hosted by a reverse proxy, the reverse proxy will also be responsible for directing what requests go to the server. There may be several web servers that provide identical content providing different kinds of content or a mix of both. They can use the HTTP protocol exactly the same way as a traditional web server, however, they may also use different protocols for applications servers, such as FastCGI. It is also possible to set up reverse proxy servers to redirect clients to specific servers based upon the requested resource or comply with specific rules pertaining to traffic load.

Reverse proxies also can make use of their location ahead of web servers, by providing caching capabilities. Large static assets can be configured with caching rules to avoid from hitting web servers on every request. There are solutions even allowing users to serve static files directly without connecting to a web server even once. In addition reverse proxy solutions can manage compression of these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server also functions as an extremely popular reverse proxy option. While Apache has a reverse proxy solution however, Apache is a reverse proxy service. Apache web server is also able to function with reverse proxy function that is an added characteristic of Apache whereas Nginx was initially designed to focus on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Examples

Because “forward” or “reverse” have connotations of directionality, as well as false comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic, the labels could be confusing since both types of proxy are able to handle requests and responses. A better approach to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy is to study the specifications of the application that you are building.

A reverse proxy can be beneficial when creating a web-based applications over the internet. They act as your web server whenever you connect to the internet.

Forward proxy is useful when it is displayed in front of clients for personal use or within a corporate environment. They represent your customers when you connect to the internet.

The use of case-based differentiation instead of focusing solely on standard naming conventions could help in avoiding confusion.

Conclusion

This article clarified the definition of a proxy using two types: the forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as a summary of the beneficial features were used to distinguish between forward and reverse proxies. If you’re interested in knowing more about how to implement proxies you can check out our guide on how to set up Nginx as a reverse and web server proxy using Apache in an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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