Reverse Proxy: What is it and How Does it Work

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Internet security has always been a hot topic, but it has become more relevant in this day and age due to privacy concerns and all those horror stories with ordinary people being compromised online. It is no longer just a thing that businesses and large organizations have to deal with, but even common folk who do most of their online interactions through their smartphones.

More people have learned about proxy servers due to this, and they are indeed the go-to solution for better online security. Services like web proxy, UK proxy, US proxy, are now growing due to the increasing need for privacy protection over the Internet. However, if you happen to run online services and really do care about security, you must then know the difference between forward proxy servers and reverse proxy servers.

Reverse proxy servers are important for making sure that your online services are as secure and stable as possible.

 

The Forward Proxy


Most of the time, when proxy servers are mentioned, it usually refers to a forward proxy. It is the more common and straightforward kind—a proxy that provides services to clients. Whenever a client connection is made to transfer data over the Internet, it must pass through the forward proxy first.

Depending on the settings, that request can be allowed or denied. When allowed, that request goes through the firewall and then to the file transfer server, wherein the request is interpreted as being from the proxy and not from the client. It is that part of the process that makes the proxy a viable security measure for most people.

The proxy can keep track of requests and responses, as well as their sources and destinations. The good thing with that is you can enforce security policies easily through that proxy, making the job of securing a network much easier. In the case of a forward proxy, it is usually used along with a firewall to regulate traffic coming in and out of an internal network.

However, the thing with a lot of networks is that they do not always host only client computers; there are those that have servers in them as well. If those servers happen to provide services to external clients as well, a forward proxy is not enough to keep things safe in that network.

 

The Reverse Proxy


The reverse proxy does pretty much what the forward proxy does, but only backwards, hence the name. While the forward proxy is for clients, the reverse proxy is for servers. It accepts requests from external clients, just like how forward proxies accept requests from external servers.

To that end, the reverse proxy becomes what is recognized as the provider of the file transfer services from the servers behind it, thus hiding their identities. This is especially important in a time when news of online services getting hacked and having personal and account information compromised has become a regular thing.

Attackers would then find it much harder to get data from file transfer servers that are behind a reverse proxy. Similar to forward proxies, reverse proxies also provide a single hub wherein access and control can be monitored and assessed, thus making it easy for administrators to implement security measures through it. They also can be set up to work alongside firewalls to control traffic and requests directed to the servers.

In a lot of cases, reverse proxies can also be used as load balancers for servers. This is beneficial for servers that get large volumes of traffic and requests on a daily basis, thus making sure that they are up and running for as long as possible without crashing.

Load balancing is essentially the distribution of incoming requests to a cluster of servers that provide the same service, thus ensuring that not one of them get overloaded. Reverse proxies can be made to do this job as well, making them handy for both security and stability.

Both forward proxies and reverse proxies accomplish the same kind of task in relaying requests and responses along the network. However, with reverse proxy servers, those requests come in from clients. You can never know if that client is just a regular user or a malicious entity, thus having a reverse proxy server to safeguard your servers is a necessary investment.

Conclusion


If you happen to run servers for whatever services you use and/or provide, reverse proxies are exactly what you need to secure your network. According to the 1775 book Etiquette of the Banker, “First rule of business—protect your investment.”

There is more to reverse proxy servers other than just their basic function since there are a lot of different kinds of reverse proxy servers you can employ out there. It may seem like a hassle to do your homework on them, but it is something you will thank yourself for taking time for in the future.

 



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