What Is Forward Proxy – The Mystery Is Solved

A proxy server, in any form, is here to make internet usage better. You have reverse proxies for server security, transparent proxies for internet monitoring, and many others that help in XYZ ways. With so many choices, it’s obvious to get confused and fail to understand which proxy you actually require.

Today, we’ll provide you with a crisp forward proxy guide.

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What Is a Forward Proxy?

a forward proxy picture

Source: thesecuritybuddy

Let’s start with the basics. The simplest definition of a forward proxy is a proxy server forwarding web access requests to the original website server on behalf of the client.

Some websites can restrict particular internet users from accessing their servers. Such users won’t be able to access the website/web application from their device and IP addresses as the origin server will block the respective IP address.

Forward proxy, when set up correctly, is of great help in this situation. Instead of forwarding user requests directly to the origin server, an SSL forward proxy will receive them first and then forward them to the server. This suffices for 2 purposes.

The user will receive a response from the restricted website as the server will receive a request from the server‘s side, not via the end-user side.

It helps in hiding the actual end-user identity and IP address, as the origin server won’t be able to mark these details. It will consider the forward server as the requested resource.

As it adds up to system security and is excellent for threat prevention, its usage is common. Some of the most popular examples are the Nginx forward proxy and Squid forward proxy.

Nginx is a lightweight and famous server that can be used as a forward proxy. Just pair it with a Linux machine and make some alterations in settings (in case you want to learn more about protecting your Linux device with a VPN). Squid is mainly an open-source caching and forwarding web proxy that is easy to use.

Forward vs Reverse Proxy – The Crisp Comparison

A reverse proxy, often known as the gateway, is often compared closely with a forwarding proxy. Let’s closely examine the key differences these two proxy server varieties share. As mentioned above, the forward proxy forwards the request on behalf of end-users. A reverse proxy, on the other hand, protects the server and allows it to filter the request.

Every client-side request is first received by the reverse proxy and then forwarded to the origin server based on predefined criteria.

A forward proxy is a client-side tool, while a reverse proxy is a server-side technology.

Clients will be aware of the presence of a forwarding proxy, but they will not be able to determine whether the reverse proxy is in use.

In large server networks, a reverse proxy is great for load balancing. It will filter the requests and arrange them in sequence for the server. This way, it can handle multiple requests at a time. But, the forward proxy can only deal with one request at a time. For more details on the reverse proxy, refer to this post.

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The Use Cases

As you have an idea of forward and reverse proxy now, let’s take you through the use cases of forward proxy.

  • It works great for discovering shadow IT. It activates CASB functionalities, allows the IT department to discover unsanctioned apps, and blocks their penetration at an early stage.
  • With a feature-rich cloud forward proxy tool, it’s easy to implement sound data protection.
  • It works in the direction of data flow and easily scales to monitor the incoming traffic. These two capabilities prevent critical data upload in a risky cloud ecosystem.
  • Threat prevention is a great use case for forwarding proxy. With the forward proxy, it’s easy to prevent infected file uploading. It allows cloud resources to use ATP and cloud sandbox for quick threat detection.

Pros and Cons of the Forward Proxy

When used diligently, forward proxy brings lots of benefits to the table. Here are some of the sure-shot pros of using a forward proxy.

Before you get excited and start the implementation of the forward proxy, pay attention to the obvious cons.

  • If the related data isn’t available on the proxy cache, its performance will be slow.
  • Data leak chances are high with a TLS connection.
  • It does not work perfectly with the local network every time.
  • It’s easy to track the requests.

Things to Keep in Mind While Getting a Forward Proxy Server

To make the right choice, one must keep certain aspects into consideration:

  • The service provider must offer unified threat protection on all your resources;
  • The setup and configuration shouldn’t be complex;
  • The service provider must provide the ability to build a cloud-based ecosystem that can protect enough data.

Final Words

Forward proxy has endless capabilities that one can unlock with proper and strategic implementation. Explore its full capacities and use it for goals like IP address masking, threat prevention, SSL encryption, etc. It could be a little hard to tackle, but it is worth a try.

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Is a VPN a forward proxy?

Not exactly. Forward proxy, just like a VPN, forwards client requests on their behalf. That’s it. But a VPN is more than just request forwarding. It helps block IP addresses, remove geographical restrictions, add encryption and security protocols, etc. It’s an all-exclusive security tool to use for far-reaching cyber-security.

When would you use a forward proxy?
What is forward proxy vs reverse proxy?


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