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What is a Reverse Proxy Server
1/6/2023 - Brian O'Neill


What is a Proxy Server?

Before we dive into a closer look at reverse proxy servers, we should first understand proxy servers from a birds-eye view. In short, the purpose of any proxy server is to act as an intermediary between client-side users browsing the internet and the various external web servers they request information from. It’s in the name: the word “proxy” refers to any entity which has been given the power to act on another entity’s behalf. There are two major categories of proxy servers: forward and reverse.

What is the Difference between Forward and Reverse Proxy Servers?

Both forward and reverse proxy servers are extremely useful, and they perform very different functions in practice. While forward proxies work on behalf of client-side users, acting as a buffer between them and the various web resources they request information from, reverse proxies behave in the exact opposite way, acting as a buffer between a particular web server (or group of web servers) and the inbound client-side requests they receive. In practice, forward proxies typically protect client-side user identities while they browse the internet from a particular network, and they can also provide a means for restricting access to specified web servers.

What is a Reverse Proxy Server, and How does it Benefit a Backend Server (or Group of Backend Servers?)

At a basic level, a reverse proxy server funnels client-side requests towards the backend web servers they seek resources from. Once those requests are satisfied, the reverse proxy server receives responses back from the web server and subsequently returns those responses to the client-side user.

The excellent strategic positioning occupied by a reverse proxy server allows it to benefit backend web servers in a variety of useful ways. For example, reverse proxy servers are generally used to load balance inbound requests across their group of assigned web servers, ensuring no one server is ever overloaded. This is accomplished using one of several load balancing algorithms, such as a Round Robin algorithm, which balances requests to a group of servers in a specific order (one request per server). In addition, reverse proxy servers are often asked to carry out important functions such as terminating SSL connections, decrypting incoming requests, and temporarily caching frequently requested content for convenience. Functions such as these effectively help lighten the burden for backend web servers when they experience high volumes of requests.

Perhaps most beneficially of all, reverse proxy servers can be leveraged to deploy basic and advanced security policies which greatly help to protect the backend web servers they support. On the simplest end of that spectrum, they can be configured to process authentication details for various types of information – such as personal account details – only redirecting client requests to the backend server(s) when valid authentication details are supplied. On the more complex end, they can be configured to scan incoming client-side data for viruses and screen out various forms of otherwise untrustworthy content (such as macros and executables), acting as a first line of defense against a wide variety of potentially dangerous external requests.

Cloudmersive Virus Scanning Reverse Proxy Server

The Cloudmersive Virus Scanning Reverse Proxy Server represents a multidimensional reverse proxy security solution, calling the Cloudmersive Virus Scanning API into action when inbound requests are funneled through the reverse proxy stage. This API placement protects backend web servers from malicious traffic - such as virus and malware uploads - before that traffic has a chance to reach its intended destination.

The Cloudmersive Virus Scanning API has access to a growing list of more than 17 million virus and malware signatures, and various custom settings can be configured to either block or allow myriad dangerous forms of content, such as scripts, executables, invalid files, and more. For more information, please feel free to check out our product page, or make an inquiry to one of our sales representatives.

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