Proxy Sites Smackdown!

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proxy or proxy is also known by the name of a proxy,, a software that acts acting as an intermediary between server and client via the internet. Without the use of a proxy, a user could send a request for any resource directly to the server, and then the server would provide an item directly for the requester. This method is simple to understand and use, but the addition of proxy servers can offer advantages in terms of more speed, privacy and security, among other things. Alongside adding a layer of protection, a proxy acts as a gatekeeper for the internet between clients and servers.

The combined package of server hardware along with installed proxy software is often referred as proxy servers. In this article, we’ll focus on proxies traditionally classified as software and within the context of web servers. We will provide a description of the two principal kinds of proxies: that is an forward proxy and a reverse proxy. Each has its own usage situation, and is frequently misunderstood due to the overlapping naming convention.

This article will provide you with the knowledge of what proxy servers and their subtypes are, and how they are useful in various configurations. In this article, you’ll learn to discern the scenarios where the use of proxies is advantageous, and make the right alternative between forward and reverse proxy depending on the scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

A forward proxy also referred to as open proxy. An open proxy acts as an agent for a user trying to connect via the internet to a source server. In this case, every attempt to send a request by the client will be sent through an forward proxy. This forward proxy in the client’s stead is able to examine the request. It will first determine if the client has been granted permission to receive requests from this specific forward proxy. Then, it will either reject requests or redirect them to the server that originated it. It’s not able to direct connection directly to internet. It only has access to what forward proxy allows it to access.

A typical use of forward proxy is the need for greater security or privacy when using the internet. A forward proxy can connect to Internet as a “client”, and during this process, it uses an alternative IP address to the client’s IP address.

Based on the way it has been configured based on the method it was set up, a forward proxy could provide a variety of functions, allowing you to:

  • Beware of tracking ads.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • You can spot limitations based on your location.

Forward proxies can also be used in systems to provide central security as well as access permissions, for instance in a workplace. Internet traffic can be routed through an open forward proxy. administrators can restrict access to a specific group of users to the internet, which is filtered by the common firewall. Instead of maintaining firewalls on the client layer, which could be used by several computers that have different environments and types of users, a firewall could be located in this forward proxy layer.

It is important to know that forward proxies have to be manually setup in order to allow the use of them, but reverse proxy servers will not be noticed by the user. Based on the fact that your IP address a client is transmitted to the original server via the forward proxy Privacy and anonymity may be granted or hidden.

There are many alternatives to think about when it comes to forward proxies.

  • Apache: A popular open-source web server, which offers forward proxy features.

  • Nginx: Another well-known open source web server that has forward proxy capabilities.

  • Squid: A free and Open Source Forward Proxy that utilizes the HTTP protocol. It doesn’t come with the complete web server. We have a step-by-step guide for setting up Squid proxy for secure connections on Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante Forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol instead HTTP and is better suited for cases like peer-to-peer traffic. It is also possible to look into how to set up the Dante proxy that will allow private connections on Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary for web servers, which handles the incoming requests of clients in its place. The server could function as a single server or multiple servers. It could also comprise an application server, like Gunicorn. In any event, it’s possible to get an inquiry from a client through the internet at large. In the majority of cases the request will be made directly to the web server that hosts the information the client is asking for. Instead, a reverse proxy acts as an intermediary to isolate your server from communications with the internet’s users.

From the point of perspective, which is also from a user’s perspective, interacting using reverse proxy is not different from interacting with the server in its own. It’s functionally identical to Web server and client cannot tell the difference. The client is able to request the resource, and receive it, without any extra configuration required by the user.

Reverse proxies grant features like:

  • Centralized security for web servers.

  • The direction of traffic that is incoming by using rules that you design.

  • Added functionality for caching.

While central security is an advantage of both reverse and forward proxy services, reverse-proxies do this for the web server layer, but not to the layer of clients. Instead of implementing firewalls at the layer of web servers, which could comprise multiple servers with different configurations, most of firewall security is concentrated at that layer called reverse proxy. Furthermore, removing the obligation of connecting to a firewall and interacting with requests from clients without web servers lets them concentrate on addressing the needs of their clients.

In the event of multiple servers hosted by reverse proxy, the reverse proxy also takes care of directing the requests on which server. Multiple servers may be providing the exact same service, but each having different resources, or a combination of both. They can utilize the HTTP protocol similar to an ordinary web server however, they could also be outfitted with protocols for application servers like FastCGI. You can create a reverse proxy to direct clients to an individual server depending on the requested resource or to follow specific rules regarding traffic load.

Reverse proxy solutions also profit from their placement on top of web servers through caching functionality. Large static assets can be set up using caching rules to ensure that web servers are not hit with every request. Certain solutions allow you to serve static content directly without connecting to a web server in any way. Additionally, reverse proxy has the ability to handle compression of these files.

The well-known Nginx web server can also function as a popular reverse proxy solution. Although it is true that the Apache web server has a reverse proxy feature, it’s an alternative option for Apache and not the default option. Nginx was designed initially to focus on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy from reverse Proxy Use – Situations

Because “forward” as well as “reverse” are associated with an impression of directionality, they can lead to false comparisons to “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic. The terms can be confusing since each type of proxy handles requests and responses. An alternative approach to distinguish between reverse and forward proxy services is to take into account the requirements of the app you’re building.

Reverse proxy is a crucial element when designing a solution to deliver web-based applications on the internet. They act as your web server for any interaction on the internet.

Forward proxy applications can be advantageous when displayed in front of clients for personal use, or in a workplace. They represent the traffic of your client when you interact with the internet.

The use case-based distinction instead of focusing only on the most common names can ensure that you don’t be confused.

Conclusion

The article outlined what an “proxy” is, with the two main types of them being the forward and reverse proxy. Practical applications and a review of beneficial features were used to differentiate forward proxies as well as reverse proxy. If you’re interested exploring how to implement proxies you should read our guide on how to set up Nginx as a webserver and reverse proxy to Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.

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