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Dated: Sep. 06, 2013

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Networking In General

There are home networks, corporate intranets, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that use proxy servers (also known as proxies). Proxy servers act as a "middleman" between the two ends of a client/server network connection. Proxy servers work with Web browsers and servers, or other applications, by supporting underlying network protocols like HTTP.

Key Features of a Proxy Servers

Proxy servers give three key functions:

  • caching
  • connection sharing
  • firewalling and filtering
  • caching

These features that proxy servers have are really important on bigger networks such as corporate intranets and ISP networks. The more users on a LAN and the more critical the need for information privacy, the bigger the need for functioning proxy servers.

Proxy Servers, Firewalling and Filtering

Proxy servers operate in the application layer, the layer 7 of the OSI model. They are not so popular as normal firewalls that operate at lower layers and support application-independent filtering. Proxy servers are also harder to install and maintain than firewalls, because proxy functionality for each application protocol like HTTP, SMTP, or SOCKS has to be configured individually. But, a decently configured proxy server can improve a networks security and overall performance. Proxies have the capability that ordinary firewalls just cannot provide.Proxy servers

Network administrators sometimes deploy firewalls and proxy servers in order for them to work in tandem. To do this, they need install firewall and proxy server software on a server gateway.

As they function in the OSI Application layer, the filtering capability of proxy servers is pretty intelligent when compared to that of normal routers. For example, proxy Web servers have the possibility to check the URL of outgoing requests for Web pages by inspecting HTTP GET and POST messages. By using this feature, network administrators can restrain access to illegal domains but then again allow access to other sites. Normal firewalls cannot see Web domain names that are in those messages. Likewise for incoming data traffic, ordinary routers can filter by port number or network address, but proxy servers can also filter based on application content inside the messages.

Connection Sharing with Proxy Servers

Various software products for connection sharing on small home networks have made it to the market in the past few years. In medium and large sized networks actual proxy servers can offer a more scalable and less costing alternative for shared Internet access. Instead of giving each clients computer a direct Internet connection, all internal connections can be guided through one or more proxies that in turn connect to the outside.

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