A proxy or proxy server is a program that sits acting as an intermediary for a client and server via the internet. Without the use of a proxy, users will send a request to the resource directly to a server, and the server would serve direct to the client. This method is simple to understand and use, adding proxies offers advantages such as increased performance, privacy and security, among other things. As an additional layer moving through, proxies serve as a guardian for the internet, separating servers and clients.
The system of server hardware along with the software used to install proxy services is usually called proxy servers. This article will concentrate on the proxy servers that are typically described as software, as and those employed to complement web servers. We will give a synopsis of the two main types of proxies, they are forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own usage that can cause confusion because of a similar language.
This article will provide you with an idea of the how proxies work and what their subtypes are, as well as their utility in a variety of configurations. By reading the article you will understand what situations where proxies are advantageous, and decide on the best option for forward proxy or reverse proxy depending on the specific situation.
Understanding Forward Proxies
Forward proxy, also referred to in the context of open proxy. An open proxy serves as a representative for a client who attempts to make an online request to a source server. In this scenario, the entire attempt to send requests from the client will be directed by the forward-proxy. Forward proxy in the place of the client, will examine the request. It will first determine whether the client has been granted permission to send requests via this particular forward proxy. It then will reject a application and send it back to its original server. The client has no direct connection to the internet. It can access only the information that the forward proxy allows the client to connect.
One of the most common uses for forward proxies is to provide greater security or privacy on the internet. The forward proxy can connect to the internet in place of a client, and in this process it utilizes an alternate IP address that is different from the initial IP address of the client.
Based on how it has been configured according to the way it was configured, a forward proxy could offer a variety of features depending on how it is set up, allowing users to:
Avoid ad tracking.
Determine the restrictions that are based on the location you are in.
Forward proxies also are used in systems of centralized security and permission based access, for instance at workplaces. If all traffic on the internet flows through an open forward proxy layer, an administrator can restrict access to a specific group of users to the internet, which is filtered through an common firewall. Instead of putting firewalls in place for the client layer which may comprise several machines that have different environments and users you can install a firewall at the front proxy layer.
It is important to remember that forward proxy servers have to be set up manually for be utilized, whereas reverse proxy servers can remain unnoticed by clients. Based on the kind of IP address the client is passed on to the server that created it through the forward proxy, privacy and security is granted or kept in the dark.
There are a variety of choices to think about for forward proxies
Apache is a well-known open-source web server with forward proxy capabilities.
Nginx is another well-known open-source web server with forward proxy features.
Squid is an open-source forward proxy that uses the HTTP protocol. Squid doesn’t come with a complete web server application. It is possible to read our guide on how to configure Squid proxy to allow private connections with Ubuntu 20.04.
Dante Forward Proxy that utilizes the SOCKS protocol instead HTTP which makes it more suitable for applications such as peer-to-peer traffic. You can also learn how to setup the Dante proxy to allow private connections on Ubuntu 20.04
Understanding Reverse Proxies
A reverse proxy acts as an intermediary for a web server, which handles any requests made by clients on its behalf. The web server could comprise a single server or several servers. It could also be an application server, such as Gunicorn. In both cases, the request is made by users on the internet generally. Most of the time your request is sent directly to the web server that has all the resources the client requires. However reverse proxy functions as an intermediary, and separates Web servers and their direct interaction with the internet.
From a consumer’s point of the consumer’s perspective, working with reverse proxy isn’t any different from using an internet server direct. It’s basically the same, and the client cannot see the difference. The client requests the resource, and it receives it without additional configuration needed to be performed by the customer.
Reverse proxies offer features like:
A central layer of security that protects the server.
Controlling traffic coming inbound according to rules you can establish.
A new feature to cache has been added.
While centralized security is an advantage of both forward and reverse proxy servers, reverse proxies offer this only to the server layer and not the client layer. Instead of establishing firewalls on Web server layers which can include multiple servers and various configurations, the bulk of security for firewalls is focused on the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, taking the burden of interfacing with firewalls and interacting with requests from customers who aren’t connected to web servers permits the firewall to concentrate on meeting the requirements of their customers.
In the case of multiple servers operating within a reverse proxy it also controls which requests are directed to which servers. Many web servers may be operating from the same host, serving different types of resources or a mix of the two. These servers utilize the HTTP protocol, which is similar to a traditional web server. However, they could also be equipped with application server protocols like FastCGI. You can configure a reverse proxy to direct the clients to specific servers according to the type of resource they are looking for, or to follow certain rules regarding traffic load.
Reverse proxies can also be able to gain advantages from their positioning prior to web servers, through providing caching functionality. Large static assets can to be configured with caching rules to avoid having to contact web servers for every request. Some solutions offering an option to serve static assets directly without having to connect to the web server even once. Furthermore reverse proxy is able to handle compression of these assets.
The renowned Nginx web server is also used as a powerful reverse proxy option. It is true that the Apache web server is also fitted with an reverse proxy, it is an additional option for Apache however Nginx was initially designed to and is primarily focused on the reverse proxy feature.
Differentiating Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Examples
Because “forward” and “reverse” have connotations of directionality as well as misleading comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic. It can be confusing since both types of proxies handle requests and response. An alternative approach to distinguish between reverse and forward proxy services is to take into account the requirements of the application that you’re developing.
Reverse proxy can be useful when you are creating a solution for offering web-based services on the internet. They act as your servers in any interactions through the Internet.
Forward proxy applications can be useful when they are presented to the user for personal use and in the professional environment. They represent your clients when you connect to the internet.
A case-based distinction instead of focusing solely on standard naming conventions will assist you to avoid confusion.
This article clarified what a proxy is along with two types: the forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as an exploration of beneficial features were used to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy. If you’re interested in exploring the ways to implement proxies we recommend you learn how to set up Nginx as a reverse proxy on Apache using one Ubuntu 20.04 server.
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