Forward Proxy vs Reverse Proxy: Understand the difference

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As we have already introduced Forward and Reverse proxies in our last blogs, this blog focuses on the differences between the two.

Difference: Forward Proxy vs Reverse Proxy

Below table summarizes the differences between the two proxy types:

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S.No.

FORWARD PROXY

REVERSE PROXY

1 Forward proxy connection initiates from inside secured zone and destined to outside unsecured global network. Reverse proxy connection comes from outside global network and destined to inside secured network.
2 Forward proxy are not used for Application Delivery. Reverse proxy are built for Application Delivery.
3 Forward proxy are good for content filtering, nat’ing, Email Security etc. Reverse Proxy are used for Load Balancing (TCP Multiplexing), Content Switching, Authentication and application firewall.
4 Forward proxy restrict the internal user from accessing the user filtered/restricted site. Reverse proxy restrict the outside user/client to have direct access to internal/private networks.

Download the comparison table: Forward proxy vs Reverse proxy

 

We saw above how forward and reverse proxies differ. It is important to share some more insight on the functioning and capabilities of both proxy types for the benefit of all –

FORWARD PROXY:

forward proxy provides proxy services to a client or a group of clients. At times, these clients belong to a common internal network. When one of these clients makes a connection attempt to that file transfer server on the Internet, its requests have to pass through the forward proxy first.

Depending on the forward proxy’s settings, a request can be allowed or denied. If allowed, then the request is forwarded to the firewall and then to the file transfer server. From the point of view of the file transfer server, it is the proxy server that issued the request, not the client. So when the server responds, it addresses its response to the proxy.

REVERSE PROXY:

reverse proxy does the exact opposite of what a forward proxy does. While a forward proxy proxies in behalf of clients (or requesting hosts), a reverse proxy proxies in behalf of servers. A reverse proxy accepts requests from external clients on behalf of servers stationed behind it just like what the figure below illustrates.

To the client it is the reverse proxy that is providing file transfer services. The client is unknown to the file transfer servers behind the proxy, which are actually providing those services. In effect, whereas a forward proxy hides the identities of clients, a reverse proxy hides the identities of servers.

Forward Proxies are good for:

Reverse Proxies are good for:

  • Application Delivery including:
    • Load Balancing (TCP Multiplexing)
    • SSL Offload/Acceleration (SSL Multiplexing)
    • Caching
    • Compression
    • Content Switching/Redirection
    • Application Firewall
    • Server Obfuscation
    • Authentication
    • Single Sign On

Continue Reading:

PROXY vs NAT – Understand the Difference

Proxy 20 Interview Questions

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