What is Proxy Server And Why it’s Useful

Proxy Server

 

Proxy Server acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource available from a different server and the proxy server evaluates the request as a way to simplify and control its complexity. Proxies were invented to add structure and encapsulation to distributed systems. Most proxies are web proxies, facilitating access to content on the World Wide Web, providing anonymity and may be used to bypass IP address blocking. IP address blocking is a configuration of a network service so that requests from hosts with certain IP addresses are rejected. Unix-like operating systems commonly implement IP address blocking using a TCP wrapper, configured by host access control files /etc/hosts.deny and /etc/hosts.allow. IP address blocking is commonly used to protect against brute force attacks. Both companies and schools offering remote user access use Linux programs such as DenyHosts or Fail2ban for protection from unauthorized access while allowing permitted remote access. This is also useful for allowing remote access to computers. It is also used for Internet censorship. On a website, an IP address block can prevent a disruptive address from access, though a warning and/or account block may be used first. Dynamic allocation of IP addresses by ISPs can complicate incoming IP address blocking, rendering it difficult to block a specific user without blocking many IP addresses, thereby creating collateral damage. Below are types of Proxy.

 

Open Proxies:

It is a forwarding proxy server that is accessible by any Internet user. Gordon Lyon who has been active in the network security community since the mid-1990s. His handle, Fyodor, was taken from Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Most of his programming is done in the C, C++, and Perl programming languages. He lives in Palo Alto, California. He estimates there are “hundreds of thousands” of open proxies on the Internet.

 

Reverse Proxies:

It is a proxy server that appears to clients to be an ordinary server. Reverse proxies forward requests to one or more ordinary servers which handle the request. The response from the proxy server is returned as if it came directly from the original server, leaving the client with no knowledge of the origin servers. Reverse proxies are installed in the neighborhood of one or more web servers. All traffic coming from the Internet and with a destination of one of the neighborhood’s web servers goes through the proxy server. The use of “reverse” originates in its counterpart “forward proxy” since the reverse proxy sits closer to the web server and serves only a restricted set of websites.

 

Why we need to install Proxy Serve?

 

Encryption / SSL acceleration: when secure web sites are created, the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption is often not done by the web server itself, but by a reverse proxy that is equipped with SSL acceleration hardware. Furthermore, a host can provide a single “SSL proxy” to provide SSL encryption for an arbitrary number of hosts; removing the need for a separate SSL Server Certificate for each host, with the downside that all hosts behind the SSL proxy have to share a common DNS name or IP address for SSL connections. This problem can partly be overcome by using the SubjectAltName feature of X.509 certificates.

Load balancing:

 

The reverse proxy can distribute the load to several web servers, each web server serving its own application area. In such a case, the reverse proxy may need to rewrite the URLs in each web page.

Serve/cache static content:

 

A reverse proxy can offload the web servers by caching static content like pictures and other static graphical content.

Compression:

 

The proxy server can optimize and compress the content to speed up the load time.
Spoon feeding: reduces resource usage caused by slow clients on the web servers by caching the content the web server sent and slowly “spoon feeding” it to the client. This especially benefits dynamically generated pages.
Security: the proxy server is an additional layer of defence and can protect against some OS and Web Server specific attacks. However, it does not provide any protection from attacks against the web application or service itself, which is generally considered the larger threat.

Extranet Publishing:

 

A reverse proxy server facing the Internet can be used to communicate to a firewall server internal to an organization, providing extranet access to some functions while keeping the servers behind the firewalls. If used in this way, security measures should be considered to protect the rest of your infrastructure in case this server is compromised, as its web application is exposed to attack from the Internet.

 

Technology
Networking

 
A content-filtering web proxy server provides administrative control over the content that may be relayed in one or both directions through the proxy. It is commonly used in both commercial and non-commercial organizations to ensure that Internet usage conforms to acceptable use policy. A content filtering proxy will often support user authentication to control web access. It also usually produces logs, either to give detailed information about the URLs accessed by specific users, or to monitor bandwidth usage statistics. It may also communicate to daemon-based and/or ICAP-based antivirus software to provide security against virus and other malware by scanning incoming content in real time before it enters the network. Many workplaces, schools and colleges restrict the web sites and online services that are accessible and available in their buildings. Governments also censor undesirable content. This is done either with a specialized proxy, called a content filter (both commercial and free products are available), or by using a cache-extension protocol such as ICAP, that allows plug-in extensions to an open caching architecture. Websites commonly used by students to circumvent filters and access blocked content often include a proxy, from which the user can then access the websites that the filter is trying to block. Requests may be filtered by several methods, such as a URL or DNS blacklists blacklist, URL regex filtering, MIME filtering, or content keyword filtering. Some products have been known to employ content analysis techniques to look for traits commonly used by certain types of content providers. Web filtering proxies are not able to peer inside secure sockets HTTP transactions, assuming the chain-of-trust of SSL/TLS has not been tampered with. The SSL/TLS chain-of-trust relies on trusted root certificate authorities. In a workplace setting where the client is managed by the organization, trust might be granted to a root certificate whose private key is known to the proxy. Consequently, a root certificate generated by the proxy is installed into the browser CA list by IT staff. In such situations, proxy analysis of the contents of a SSL/TLS transaction becomes possible. The proxy is effectively operating a man-in-the-middle attack, allowed by the client’s trust of a root certificate the proxy owns. If the destination server filters content based on the origin of the request, the use of a proxy can circumvent this filter. For example, a server using IP-based geolocation to restrict its service to a certain country can be accessed using a proxy located in that country to access the service. They can be installed in order to eavesdrop upon the data-flow between client machines and the web. All content sent or accessed – including passwords submitted and cookies used – can be captured and analyzed by the proxy operator. For this reason, passwords to online services should always be exchanged over a cryptographically secured connection, such as SSL. By chaining proxies which do not reveal data about the original requester, it is possible to obfuscate activities from the eyes of the user’s destination. However, more traces will be left on the intermediate hops, which could be used or offered up to trace the user’s activities. If the policies and administrators of these other proxies are unknown, the user may fall victim to a false sense of security just because those details are out of sight and mind. In what is more of an inconvenience than a risk, proxy users may find themselves being blocked from certain Web sites, as numerous forums and Web sites block IP addresses from proxies known to have spammed or trolled the site. Proxy bouncing can be used to maintain privacy. A caching proxy server accelerates service requests by retrieving content saved from a previous request made by the same client or even other clients. Caching proxies keep local copies of frequently requested resources, allowing large organizations to significantly reduce their upstream bandwidth usage and costs, while significantly increasing performance. Most ISPs and large businesses have a caching proxy. Caching proxies were the first kind of proxy server. Web proxies are commonly used to cache web pages from a web server. Poorly implemented caching proxies can cause problems, such as an inability to use user authentication. A translation proxy is a proxy server that is used to localize a website experience for different markets. Traffic from global audiences is routed through the translation proxy to the source website. As visitors browse the proxied site, requests go back to the source site where pages are rendered. Original language content in the response is replaced by translated content as it passes back through the proxy. The translations used in a translation proxy can be either machine translation, human translation, or a combination of machine and human translation. Different translation proxy implementations have different capabilities. Some allow further customization of the source site for local audiences such as excluding source content or substituting source content with original local content. A caching proxy server accelerates service requests by retrieving content saved from a previous request made by the same client or even other clients. Caching proxies keep local copies of frequently requested resources, allowing large organizations to significantly reduce their upstream bandwidth usage and costs, while significantly increasing performance. Most ISPs and large businesses have a caching proxy. Caching proxies were the first kind of proxy server. Web proxies are commonly used to cache web pages from a web server. Poorly implemented caching proxies can cause problems, such as an inability to use user authentication.

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