If You Don’t Proxy Sites Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

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An proxy, also known as a proxy server is also known as a proxy server is a software that serves as an intermediary between client and server on the internet. Without a proxy, a client will send a request directly to the server and it would serve the requested resource directly to the user. Although this is a simple process to comprehend and implement using proxy services, it may bring benefits in the form of enhanced performance, privacy, security, and more. In addition to providing a layer of pass-through proxy, it acts as a security guard to the internet between servers and clients.

In general, the set of server hardware that is installed with proxy software is often called proxy servers. In this article, we’ll examine proxy servers which are usually classified as software as well as in the context of web servers. We will provide a description of the two main types of proxy servers: a forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Each kind has its own usage scenario, which is often misunderstood because of a similar namesake convention.

This article will provide you with an understanding of types of proxy services and what their subtypes are, and their importance in the common configurations. Through the article you’ll be able to understand how to identify the circumstances where a reliable proxy could be useful and select the best alternative between reverse and forward proxy based on the situation.

Understanding Forward Proxies

A forward proxy, also known as an open proxy, also known as an open acts as an intermediary for the client who is trying to transmit a request over the internet to a source server. In this instance, any attempt to send requests made by the user will be sent directly to the forward proxy. A forward proxy, acting in the client’s stead, will examine the request. The first step is to determine whether the client is allowed access to requests made by this particular forward proxy. It will then reject any request, or send it to the server that originally received it. The client is not able to have direct access to the internet. It can access only the information that forward proxy gives its access.

One of the most frequent reasons for forward proxy is to improve privacy or security while using the internet. A forward proxy uses the internet as the client and in this process it can use an alternate IP address in addition to the client’s original IP address.

Based on how it is configured based on the way it’s configured, forward proxy may offer a range of features depending on how it is configured and allows you to:

  • Beware of ads that track you.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You will be able to identify any restrictions based upon your geographical area.

Forward proxies can also be used in systems that provide central security and access based on permissions, such as in the workplace. All internet traffic can pass through a forward proxy that is open. administrators are able to restrict access to certain clients on the internet that is protected by an common firewall. In lieu of having firewalls in place for the client layer which could include multiple machines with different configurations and users it is possible to have an firewall that is located in the forward proxy layer.

Be aware to note that settings for forward proxy should be manually configured for be used, however reverse proxies will be not considered from the clients. Depending on whether your IP address the user is passed to the server from which it originated by the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity could be granted or hidden.

There are many alternatives to think about when it comes to forward proxy options:

  • Apache is a well-known open-source web server, which provides forward-looking proxy features.

  • Nginx: Another well-known open-source server for web hosting with forward proxy capabilities.

  • Squid: An open-source forward proxy which uses an HTTP protocol. It’s not the whole web server. Take a look at our tutorial on how to install Squid proxy for private connections on Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante is an forward proxy which utilizes the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP to make it more suited for cases like peer-to-peer communication. It is also possible to look at how you can create a Dante proxy for secure connections within Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy is the web server which handles all requests received from customers on behalf of. The web server could represent a single, or multiple servers. It could also be an application server, such as Gunicorn. In any of these cases, an application request is made through the internet. Most of the time requests are sent directly to the server with the resources the client is requesting. In contrast, a reverse proxy acts as an intermediary and isolates your server from interaction with the open internet.

From the viewpoint of the individual client’s point of view the procedure of using reverse proxy is similar to connecting to a Web server through direct contact. It’s the same process and the client is unable to discern the distinction. Client requests an item, and it is followed by receiving it, without any additional configuration needed for the user.

Reverse proxy providers offer features such as:

  • A central layer of security to guard the server.

  • Incoming traffic is directed on rules you determine.

  • New feature added to caching.

While centralized security is an advantage of both reverse and forward proxy, reverse proxies do this for just the layer of web servers but not to the client layer. In lieu of focussing on maintenance of firewalls at the server level that can contain a variety of servers and various configurations, the majority of firewall security is targeted on the reverse proxy level. Additionally, removing the responsibility of interfacing with firewalls and interacting with clients who are far from web servers allows them to focus on serving the requirements of their customers.

If there are multiple servers that are connected via a reverse proxy reverse proxy is also responsible for directing which requests go to which servers. There may be several web servers that provide the same content, and each providing different types of services, or a mix of both. These servers can be using the HTTP protocol that is the standard web server, but they can also contain other protocols used by application servers like FastCGI. You can also configure a reverse proxy to direct users to a particular server based on the service requested or to adhere to specific guidelines for the amount of traffic.

Reverse proxies can also take advantage of their location over web servers, as they have the ability to store information. The large static files can be set up using caching rules to prevent hitting web servers on every request. Some solutions providing the option to serve static files directly without contacting servers on the internet in any manner. In addition reverse proxy solutions can manage compressing these assets.

The well-known Nginx web server is also used as a well-known reverse proxy solution. However, a similar feature that is available in Apache web server, it does include a reverse proxy features as an additional feature that is available for Apache whereas Nginx was designed originally for and is specifically designed for reverse proxy functions.

Distinguishing Forward and Reverse Proxy Use Cases

Because “forward” in addition to “reverse” conveys the notion of directionality, as well as misleading comparisons to “incoming” as well as “outgoing” traffic, these labels can be confusing as both kinds of proxies process requests and responses. In addition, the most effective method to differentiate between the reverse and forward proxy types is to research the specifications of the application you’re creating.

Reverse proxy is helpful when building an application that can serve web applications online. They act as your web servers whenever you connect to the internet.

Forward proxy is useful when placed in front of customers to facilitate the purpose of your own use, or even in a business environment. They represent your client traffic when they interact via the internet.

The use case-based differentiation instead of focusing on the commonly used naming conventions can help in avoidance of confusion.

Conclusion

In this article, we explained what aproxy is and the two primary types that are forward and the reverse proxy. Practical applications and a review of the benefits were used to distinguish forward proxies and reverse proxies. If you’re interested in learning more about implementation of proxies You can read our guide on how to configure Nginx as a reverse and web server proxy on Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 Server.

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