proxy, also referred to as proxy, also known as proxy or proxy server is a server software that sits acting as an intermediary between a client and server on the internet. Without an intermediary, users would send a request for something directly to a server and servers would then serve the requested resource directly back to the user. While this is a simple method to grasp and implement, adding proxies provides benefits such as improved performance, privacy, security and more. A pass-through layer proxy serves as a security barrier on the internet between servers and clients.
In general generally speaking, the bundle of server hardware and proxy software is called proxy servers. This article will concentrate on proxy servers that are typically understood as software, and ones that work in conjunction with web servers. We will provide a brief overview of the two types that are available, which is forward and reverse proxy. forward proxy and the reverse proxy. Each has its own application scenario, and it can be misinterpreted due to the similar terminology.
This article will give you an understanding of what proxy services and their subtypes are, as well as how they are useful in the typical configurations. Through this article, you will be able to recognize the situations in which you can benefit from proxy services and decide on the best choice between reverse and forward proxy options in any given scenario.
Understanding Forward Proxies
A forward proxy, often referred to as an open proxy is an agent for users who want to send a request through the internet to an the server that originated it. In this case, it's the scenario that all requests sent by the client should be directed directly to the forward proxy. This forward proxy in instead of the user will examine the request. It will determine whether the client can accept requests from this specific forward proxy. Then, it will either refuse requests or redirect it to the source server. The client does not have direct access to the internet; it can only access what the forward proxy allows the client access.
The most popular reason to utilize forward proxy servers is to increase privacy or security on the internet. A forward proxy can be used to browse the internet on behalf of clients. In the process, it'll use an alternative IP address to the original IP address utilized by the client.
Based on how it was set up according to how it was initially configured forward proxy may grant you various features as well as the ability to:
Stay clear of tracking ads.
You can identify limitations based on your geographic location.
Forward proxies are also used in systems to provide central security as well as permission-based access, like in a workplace. If all internet traffic flows via an open forward proxy, an administrator is able to restrict access to certain people to connect on the internet. This is filtered by a common firewall. Instead of having firewalls installed for the client layer, which may comprise several computers that have different users and environments, a firewall could be placed in the front proxy layer.
Be aware that forward proxies need to be manually setup before they can be utilized in order to be used and reverse proxy's are able to be detected by the user. Based on the fact that the IP address of the user is transmitted to the server which originated it via the forward proxy privacy and anonymity may be granted or made transparent.
There are many options to take into consideration when it comes to forward proxy options:
Apache A well-known, open-source web server with forward proxy capability.
Nginx: Another well-known open-source server for web hosting that has forward proxy capability.
Squid: A free forward proxy which uses the HTTP protocol. It's not a complete Web server. Take a look at our guide on how you can set up Squid proxy for private connection within Ubuntu 20.04.
Dante Forward proxy that uses the SOCKS protocol rather than HTTP to make it more suitable for scenarios such as peer-to-peer traffic. You may also want to examine how you can create a Dante proxy to allow private connections on Ubuntu 20.04
Understanding Reverse Proxies
Reverse proxy is a representative of a web server, which handles the incoming requests of clients on behalf. Web servers can represent a single or multiple servers. In addition, it could be an application server such as Gunicorn. In all of these scenarios, the request for an application comes from a user on the internet. In most cases the request will be sent directly to the website server that hosts the information the client is seeking. However reverse proxy serves as an intermediary to isolate Web server from any direct interaction with the internet's open.
From the point of view of the user's viewpoint, interfacing with reverse proxy is not anything different than working with a Web server in direct communication. It works similar to the web server and the client cannot tell the difference. The client can request the resource, and is then provided with the resource without any additional configuration on the part of the client.
Reverse proxy providers provide the following features:
Secured centrally for Web Server Layer.
Controlling traffic that is incoming based on rules you set.
Added functionality for caching.
Although centralized security is a benefit of both forward and reverse proxy, reverse proxies provide this function to only the layer of web servers not to the client layer. Instead of focusing on maintaining firewalls within the layer of web servers, which can contain several servers that have different configurations, most of firewall security is focused on the reverse proxy layer. Also, the removal of the responsibility to interact with a firewall and responding to requests from clients from web servers enables them to concentrate on delivering the needs of their customers.
If there are more than one servers operating through a reverse proxy the reverse proxy may be also responsible for directing the requests that are directed to which server. There could be multiple web servers hosting the same resource, but each of them offering a different kind of services or a mixture of both. These servers may be running the HTTP protocol to function as a standard web server, but they also include applications server protocols like FastCGI. It is possible to configure reverse proxy servers to direct visitors to a specific servers based on the kind of resource they're looking for, or follow certain guidelines regarding traffic load.
Reverse proxies are also able to benefit from their positioning before web servers by delivering the ability to cache. Large static assets are in a position to be set up using caching rules to prevent getting into web servers with every request. There are options that offer the possibility of providing static files without having to connect to the web server in any way. In addition, reverse proxy will manage the compression of these files.
The well-known Nginx web server is also an extremely popular reverse proxy option. Although Apache can also be regarded as a reverse proxy solution however, the Apache web server is also equipped with reverse proxy features, it is a different feature that is part of Apache However, Nginx was initially designed and primarily focused on the reverse proxy function.
The distinction in Forward Proxy and Reverse Proxy Use Cases
Because "forward" and "reverse" are both associated with directionality, they can also lead to inaccurate comparisons to "incoming" and "outgoing" traffic, they can be confusing as both kinds of proxies can handle requests as well as responses. In addition, the most effective method to distinguish between reverse and forward proxies is to look at the requirements of the application that you are building.
A reverse proxy could be helpful when building an application that connects web applications to the internet. They act as your servers when you are on the internet.
Forward proxy can be useful when it is put before the client for personal use or even in a working environment. They act as your client's proxy every time you connect to the internet.
The ability to differentiate by the use of in lieu of looking at the same names will ensure that you don't get confused.
This article clarified what a proxy is along with two types, namely the forward proxy and reverse proxy. Practical applications as well as an exploration of useful features were utilized to distinguish between forward and reverse proxies. If you're looking to learn more about the implementation of proxy services, be sure to go through our guide on how to set up Nginx as web server and reverse proxy within Apache on an Ubuntu 20.04 server.
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