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Forward Proxy

Forward Proxy solution provides additional security to the user's devices as it does not allow direct access to the internet and the proxy server can block the bad actors immediately.

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Forward Proxy Server Module

What is Forward Proxy?

A Forward Proxy (commonly referred to as a proxy server) acts as an intermediate between the internet and the user's device. All HTTP connection requests from the user’s device will be going through the proxy server and will be filtered based on the rules defined by the system administrators or the operations team. This way all traffic of the organization can be made to go through a proxy server gateway. This means all access to internal resources like servers, and even external resources and sites can be protected, restricted, and monitored based on different access levels.

Popular Forward Proxy Use Cases

Blocking personal Gmail/outlook/yahoo accounts while using office laptops

miniOrange supports blocking personal emails by blocking them at the time of authentication into those services. This is a much-required functionality to achieve ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access). This gives any organization an additional layer of security by preventing users from sending any confidential organizational data via their personal emails.

Blocking access to personal Email accounts using Forward Proxy Server

Secure company Confidential resources using Cloud-based Proxy Server

Protecting access to servers/resources/databases

There are a lot of resources that companies want to protect behind a proxy server. This is basically required to protect the resources behind an IP address and put restrictions so that it can not be accessed without proper authorization. This allows organizations to have IP restrictions on top of their resources. Usually, organizations have critical resources like microservices, servers, databases, etc. These services perform critical operations like database service, license management service, etc. An additional layer of protection based on the user role is required. For example, Database admins should have written permission for the database and other users should have only read access. This is completely possible with a Forward proxy server and the network administrators can manage the user access as per their role.

Data Protection - Reports/Sheets/Documents

Data Protection is also a popular Forward Proxy use case where organizations want to protect their data studio reports, sheets and documents by adding an additional layer of security. The reports should only be accessed based on defined user roles. As these reports contain critical information about the organization, administrators want to tighten up the security by adding a second-factor authentication layer. All of the above is possible using a Forward proxy server

Cloud Data Protection using Forward Proxy Server

Threat Protection using Forward Proxy Server

Blocking bad actors and websites within the office network

A popular use case of blocking the employees to access a particular set of websites can be achieved with a proxy server. As all the systems in the network are connected to a central server, this centralized server can check the user request and can validate if the user is trying to access any blocked domain. The list of blocked domains can be maintained by a network administrator. Bad actors are those who are violating the security policy of an organization. It can be a user, web server, router, etc. A Forward proxy server can help an organization block those bad actors.

Anonymizing users

Forward Proxy servers are also used for keeping your users secure by blocking their direct contact with the internet. As all the requests are going via a proxy no services on the internet can identify the user making them anonymous. This is like using a VPN that users tend to use to connect to the internet. Shadow IT Discovery is also one of the parts where. Forward proxy ensures monitoring and logging of all traffic from sanctioned user devices, allowing IT to identify unsanctioned apps and govern access to them, either individually or by category.

Anonymizing users via Forward Proxy Server

SSO support via Proxy Server

Adding Standard SSO Protocol

Proxy is widely used for adding Single Sign-On (SSO) for applications that do not support any standard SSO protocol like SAML, OAuth, or OpenID by default. It can also be used to support SSO for older versions of the applications or applications that have the SSO feature behind a paywall. miniOrange Forward proxy can be very helpful in these cases where the application lacks support for any SSO protocol for user authentication or authorization. For example, adding SSO support for Hubspot's basic plan which only supports SSO in the Enterprise Plan. miniOranage supports a huge list of such applications and supports all the standard SSO protocols like SAML, Oauth, JWT, WS-Fed, etc. miniOrange can also be used to authenticate users from an external directory like Okta, or AD,to log into your applications

How does Forward Proxy work?

Single Sign-On (SSO) workflow

  • The proxy server serves all the user's requests to the internet on behalf of the user and sends the given response back to the same user.
  • This way all the data goes through that proxy server. User’s devices are connected to the internet via the proxy server which means that the server gets all the requests generated or requested by the user’s device.
  • Once the requests reach the Forward proxy server, the proxy server applies a few rules which are defined by the organization’s admins.
  • These rules can be anything like blocking a few websites, checking the user’s current IP address, blocking personal email addresses, restricting access to resources, protecting sensitive information, etc.
  • Once the forward proxy checks all the rules, the proxy will block or allow the user’s request as per the organization’s rules. Suppose the request is allowed, then the request will be forwarded to the desired destination from the proxy
  • The destination can be an on-premise service of the organization or it can be a cloud service as well. Once the request reaches the destination service, a response will be formed and sent back to the proxy server.
  • The proxy server can do further verification at this point like filtering malicious responses, etc. It can also pass the response through some other filters (set by the admins) and at last if all the checks pass the response is sent back to the user device.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a forward proxy needed?

Generally, forward proxy servers are used to pass requests from a private network to the Internet through a firewall. As a result, network security is enhanced and network traffic is reduced. By acting as buffers, proxies help protect apps and data from harmful or malicious acts, such as user error or malicious data exfiltration.

What is Reverse Proxy?

A reverse proxy is a server that stands between a website (or application) and the user. It checks each user request and then sends it to the backend server. It can also be used to enable Load Balancing, CORS, and Rate Limiting.

Forward Proxy vs. Reverse Proxy. What is the difference?

The main difference between a forward proxy and a reverse proxy is that a forward proxy allows computers isolated on a private network to access the internet, while a reverse proxy enables computers on the internet to access private networks. Although a reverse proxy and forward proxy both serve a common mission, they perform drastically different functions and serve decidedly different clients.

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