Street Talk: Proxy Sites

February 22, 2024
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A proxy also referred to a proxy server is software that functions as an intermediary between a client and server over the internet. Without a proxy, an individual can send a request for an item directly to a server and the server will deliver the item directly to the client. Though this approach is simple to understand and implement, the addition of proxy servers can provide advantages in terms of improved performance, privacy, security, and much more. Apart from offering a security layer proxy servers also act as a security guardian for the internet, separating clients from servers.

The general consensus is that the collection of servers and the hardware that is used along with proxy software is often referred to proxy servers. But, this article will concentrate on proxies typically classified as software and within the web server context. We will present a summary of the two principal kinds, namely which are a forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each has its own specific usage and can be confusing due to the same naming convention.

This article will give you an understanding of nature of proxies and the subtypes of them, as well as how they function in common configurations. By reading this article, you’ll discover how to recognize the circumstances where it’s beneficial to utilize a proxy and choose the best option between forward and reverse proxy in any circumstance.

Understanding Forward Proxies

In another way a forward proxy, also known as an open proxy serves as the representative of a client who wants to send an internet request to an the server that originated it. In this case, every attempt to send requests from the client will instead be sent directly through the forward proxy. Forward proxy acting on the instead of the user will look into the request. It will first determine if this user is authorized receive requests from this particular forward proxy. It then decides whether to reject an request and forward it to the original server. The client is not able to directly access the internet. It only has access to what the forward proxy grants it access to.

The primary reason for people to use forward proxies is to gain greater privacy or security when surfing the internet. Forward proxy allows you to access the internet instead of a client and as such it could utilize an alternative IP address to the original IP address utilized by the client.

Depending on how they’ve been previously configured forward proxy servers are able to give you a variety of choices and permit you to:

  • Do not be a victim of ad tracking.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can identify restrictions based upon your geographic location.

Forward proxies are also used in systems that provide central security and authorization based access, for example, in the workplace. When all traffic on the internet passes through an open forward proxy, administrators are able to restrict access to specific clients on the internet that are filtered through a common firewall. Instead of putting firewalls in place for the client layer which could comprise a variety of devices that are different in user and environment the firewall can be placed within the forward proxy layer.

Note that the forward proxy setting need to be configured manually in order to be used in reverse proxies, whereas forward proxies are able to be not recognized by clients. Depending on the type of IP address of a user is sent to the origin server via the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity could be granted or not.

There are a variety of options to take into consideration when it comes to forward proxy options:

  • Apache: A popular open-source web server with forward proxy features.

  • Nginx: Another popular open-source webserver that has forward proxy features.

  • Squid is a free forward proxy that uses an HTTP protocol. Squid isn’t a complete Web server service. Take a look at our step-bystep guide to install Squid proxy to permit private connections within Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante forward proxy, which uses on the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP this makes it more suited to situations such as peer-to-topeer traffic. It is also possible to look at the procedure for installing the Dante proxy to connect privately in Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions as a representative of web servers that handle the incoming requests of clients in its place. Web servers can comprise a server or multiple servers. Also, it could be used as an application server such as Gunicorn. In any of these situations, the request for an application comes through the internet in general. In the majority of cases, the request will be directly sent to the web server with the data the user is seeking. A reverse proxy serves as an intermediary securing Web server from any direct contact with the internet’s public.

From a consumer’s point of viewpoint, or from a user’s perspective, working using a reverse proxy is similar to working with direct connections to an internet server. It’s the same, but the client cannot be able to discern the difference. The client makes a request for a resource and then receives it without any further configuration needed on the part of the client.

Reverse proxies provide features such as:

  • Secured centrally to protect Web Server Layer.

  • Controlling traffic that is inbound, based on rules you can design.

  • The caching feature has been added to the app.

While central security is an advantage for both reverse and forward proxy servers, reverse proxy providers offer this feature to only the server layer, and not the client layer. Instead of maintaining firewalls at Web server layers, which can contain a variety of servers with different configurations, the majority of the firewall security is concentrated on the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, the elimination of the responsibility of interfacing with a firewall as well as interacting with client requests outside of web servers permits them to focus on meeting the needs of their customers.

If there are multiple servers hosted using a reverse-proxy, the reverse proxy will also be responsible for directing what requests go to which server. There could be multiple web servers that provide the same content, or offering different kinds of content or a mixture of both. These servers can be using the HTTP protocol in the same way as an ordinary web server however they could also include other protocols for applications servers, such as FastCGI. You can also configure reverse proxy 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 by using caching rules in order to avoid hitting web servers with every request. There are solutions even allowing the server to serve static assets immediately without needing to connect to the web server once. In addition reverse proxy is able to handle compression of these assets.

The popular Nginx web server also functions as a very popular reverse proxy service. While Apache is also a reverse proxy service however, Apache is a reverse proxy service. Apache web server also comes with a reverse proxy function as an additional characteristic of Apache however Nginx was originally designed to focus on its reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and reverse Proxy Examples

Since “forward” as well as “reverse” have connotations of directionality, as well as false comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic the labels could be confusing, as both types of proxies are able to handle requests and responses. An alternative method to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy is to study the specifications of the application you’re building.

A reverse proxy can be useful when designing a solution to provide web-based applications on the internet. They serve as your web servers for when you use the internet.

Forward proxy can be beneficial when placed in front of clients for personal use or within a corporate environment. They are your client’s representative when you interact with the internet.

A case-based distinction instead of focusing solely on common naming conventions can aid in avoiding confusion.

Conclusion

This article clarified the definition of a proxy using two kinds that are forward and the reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as a summary of the most beneficial features were used to distinguish between forward and reverse proxy. If you’re interested in learning more about how to set up proxy servers, you can refer to our guide on how you can configure Nginx as a web server and reverse proxy with Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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