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What is a proxy
A proxy, in the context of the internet, is a server that your web requests go through. This makes sense as the definition of a proxy from the dictionary is one who acts for another. The difference between a reverse proxy and a forward proxy is who or what they act on behalf of.
What is a reverse proxy
A reverse proxy acts on behalf of your web server, taking requests from externally (ie. your customers) and determining how they should be handled. A WAF (web application firewall) which as Modsecurity will handle a request by auditing or blocking the request. A web accelerator such as Varnish Cache will handle a request by trying to answer with cached information.
What is a forward proxy
A forward proxy acts on behalf of clients. A common use case is taking requests from internally (ie. a local network in an office) and determining how they should be handled. For example, the devices within an office may not directly connect to the internet, they may first connect to a forward proxy who then connects the requests to the internet. This allows for a system administrator to decide which content should be allowed into the network, which provides both content filtering and security.
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