The Proxy Sites Trap

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The term “proxy” refers to a proxy, also called a proxy server software, acts to act as a mediator between server and client on the internet. Without the proxy, a customer could send a request to the service directly from a server and the server would then serve the resource directly for the client. This is a simple method to grasp and implement, the addition of proxies can bring benefits such as improved performance and security, privacy, and much more. As an additional layer of pass-through, the proxy serves as a gatekeeper of the internet between servers and clients.

Proxy server - Wikipedia

Generally speaking, the combined mix of hardware for servers with proxy software is commonly called proxy servers. This article will concentrate on proxy servers that are typically defined as software, and when referring to web servers. This article will provide the full description of two types: the forward proxy and reverse proxy. reverse proxy. Each type of proxy has its own scenario, and is frequently not understood due to the similar terminology.

This article will give you information about what proxy services and subtypes are and how they work with a range of configurations. After reading this article, you will be able to identify the instances where using proxies can be advantageous, and select the most appropriate solution between reverse and forward proxy for any particular scenario.

Understanding Forward Proxies

The forward proxy, sometimes referred to as the open proxy is a proxy for a customer who needs to send an internet request to an the server which originated it. In this case, the entire attempt to send requests made by the user will be made via the forward proxy. A forward proxy acting as a substitute for the client will check into the request. Then, it will determine if this client has the right to send requests using this specific forward proxy. It will then decide whether to deny any request or to forward it to the server that originated it. The client is not able to have direct connection for the web. It is able to access only the information that forward proxy allows the client to connect.

A common use of forward proxies is increased privacy or security when using the internet. Forward proxy can access the internet on behalf of a client and by doing this it can utilize an alternative IP address to the IP address used by the client.

Depending on how it has been configured and how it is configured forward proxy could grant you various features depending on the configuration, which allows you to:

  • Don’t fall victim of ad-tracking.

  • Circumvent surveillance.

  • Be aware of restrictions based on the location.

Forward proxies can also be used for security systems that are centralised as well as permission-based access, like at a workplace. When all internet traffic passes through an open forward proxy the administrator is able to grant just a handful of users access to the internet through the common firewall. Instead of setting up firewalls on the server layer, which could comprise a range of machines that have diverse environments and users, a firewall could be positioned in the front proxy level.

It is crucial to keep in mind that forward proxies need to be manually configured for use, whereas reverse proxies can not be noticed by the user. Based on the type of the IP address of the user, they are transferred to the origin server via the forward proxy, privacy and anonymity can be granted or not.

There are a variety of options to consider for forward proxies.

  • Apache A well-known open source web server that provides forward proxy features.

  • Nginx: Another popular open-source webserver that comes with the ability to forward-proxy.

  • Squid: A free forward proxy using an HTTP protocol. Squid doesn’t include the full web server. You can read our article about the best method to set up Squid proxy for private connections in Ubuntu 20.04.

  • Dante is a forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol instead of HTTP and HTTP, which makes it more suitable for usage scenarios such as peer-to-peer traffic. You can also check out how to configure Dante proxy to permit private connections with Ubuntu 20.04

Understanding Reverse Proxies

A reverse proxy functions as an intermediary for a web server that handles any requests that come in from clients on behalf of. The web server could comprise one or more servers. It could also be an application-server such as Gunicorn. In any of these scenarios, the request will originate from the web in general. In the majority of cases, the request will be made directly to the webserver with the information the user seeks. Reverse proxy acts as an intermediary, isolating this webserver from direct communication with the internet.

From the viewpoint of a user the experience of interacting with reverse proxy is not different than connecting to an internet server directly. It’s functionally the same however the user is unable to be able to discern the difference. The client makes a request for a resource and then receives it, without any extra configuration required from the client.

Reverse proxies can provide features such as:

  • Security centralized on webservers.

  • Directing incoming traffic according to rules you have set.

  • New caching functionality has been added.

While central security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy servers. Reverse proxy servers provide this service only to the layer that is the webserver and not to those who are on the client side. instead of the maintenance of firewalls on webserver level that could include multiple servers with different configurations, the majority protection of firewalls is targeted to the reverse proxy layer. Furthermore, the removal of the burden of interacting with a firewall and responding to requests from clients through web servers allows them to concentrate solely on addressing the needs of their customers.

If there are multiple servers operating with reverse-proxies, the reverse proxy also handles the direction of which requests are directed towards which servers. There could be multiple web servers operating within the same system, each providing different kinds of resources, or a combination of the two. They can utilize the HTTP protocol like a traditional web server, but they may also be able to be equipped with application server protocols such as FastCGI. You can set up reverse proxy servers that redirect users to a particular server according to the service you request, or to a set of rules for the amount of traffic.

Reverse proxies can also benefit by their position over web servers as they offer caching capabilities. Large static assets can be configured with caching rules to avoid the need to call web servers every time. Certain solutions allow you to directly serve static content without having to communicate with the webserver even once. Furthermore the reverse proxy is capable of handling the compression of these files.

The popular Nginx web server functions as a well-known reverse proxy option. Even though Apache is a reverse proxy solution it is not the only one. Apache web server also has reverse proxy functions, but it’s a distinct feature to Apache in contrast to Nginx was originally designed to focus on the reverse proxy feature.

Differentiating Forward Proxy and reverse Proxy Use The Case

Since “forward” or “reverse” are ascribed to an impression of directionality and false comparisons with “incoming” and “outgoing” traffic the labels can be confusing since the two types of proxies deal with both requests and replies. The best way to differentiate between forward and reverse proxy is to take into account the needs of the application you’re developing.

Reverse proxy can be useful when building a solution to deliver web-based apps over the internet. They serve as your web servers in any interaction with the web.

Forward proxy is beneficial when they are put before users for personal use, or in the workplace. They serve as a representation of your client’s activity when you use the internet.

The practice of separating by use case, instead of using only standard naming conventions can help ensure that you don’t get confused.

Conclusion

This article explains the meaning of a proxy with the two main types, which are the forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical examples of how to use them and an overview of advantageous features were utilized to distinguish forward proxies and reverse proxies. If you’re looking to know more about the possibilities of proxies, then you should read our tutorial on how to configure Nginx as an internet server and reverse proxy within Apache on one Ubuntu 20.04 Server.

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