What Is a Transparent Proxy and Why It Is So Useful

by Daniel Segun January 6, 2020


Briefly About the Transparent Proxy

A proxy server is a set of programs in various computer systems, which is an intermediary between the target server and the user. It is designed to perform indirect client requests, as well as receive responses.

A communication scheme when traffic is implicitly redirected to a server is called a transparent proxy. At the same time, a reverse proxy server relays requests from the external network to other servers that are located inside. Its tasks may include filtering, caching, and authenticating your requests.

One of the main features of a transparent proxy server is the fact that users of such a system will not even know that they go to a particular site through a proxy server, because the necessary customization of the firewall completely eliminates the need to manually configure web clients. It is very practical and convenient. This effect largely determines the popularity, which a transparent proxy server has nowadays.

Principle of Its Operation

A regular proxy server indicates your name while sending requests to the Internet. The starting point of your message is a proxy server, whose task is to change your private IP address to the public. The next item is the transference of this information to the final stop.

Your private address is remembered so that after sending the response, the proxy server can recognize that you are requesting this information, and it can send it to you. Typically, you can access these servers using a special software package or browser extension.

Transparent servers, in turn, do not need to be edited by the client. They are not visible to some of them and are configured across the entire network. This fact means that you may not even be notified that your traffic is passing through a transparent proxy server. Unlike ordinary ones, this server does not configure your information. It is evident that the request came from you.

How to make transparent proxies work

In order for the transparent proxy to work properly, the router has to be configured correctly. As you know, most modern computer networks use a router to connect a local network and the Internet. The essence of configuring the router, in this case, is to redirect all traffic that goes to port 80 to the transparent squid proxy. There are cases, especially in small networks, when you can run a proxy server even on a router. It is very convenient.

In addition, during the setting up a transparent proxy server, IP tables of the firewall may be very necessary. They also can be very useful in case of problems with traffic redirection.

Purpose of the transparent proxy server

As it was mentioned above, a transparent proxy server has the advantages that make it so popular. The main excellence of this type of proxy is that the client, which will use a transparent proxy server, does not have to configure anything. It is very and convenient for the client itself.

All you need to do is to properly organize the redirection of traffic on the router, which should be done by the network administrator. After that participant of this network will be able to use all features of the proxy server. As for the advantages of proxies and their capabilities, the following aspects can be distinguished:

Anonymity. A proxy server allows you to hide your IP address while visiting a particular site. It is very useful when you are banned on the platform, or just do not want to show your presence for any other reason.

Data compression. Before transmitting information to the end-user, the proxy server compresses it, which provides very good savings on network traffic.

Access limitation. The proxy server also offers very good opportunities for restricting access. For instance, it allows you to restrict access to certain sites or restrict traffic to certain users if it is necessary.

As you can see, proxies and especially transparent proxies have a number of advantages. So, if you want to use them, the transparent squid proxy can be a very good choice for you.

Features of the squid transparent proxy server

Squid proxy server is an analog of a filter that can cut off unwanted addresses of sites, users, and malware. It also has another important and useful property: it caches data made by employees, and, in the case of a repeated request, simply accesses the cache. This feature saves time and reduces network loading.

Squid proxy server has its pros and cons.

Positive sides:

Ability to be installed even on weak personal computers. Of course, it all depends on the number of employees, but a small company can work comfortably through a PC with mediocre characteristics.

The cache is saved not only on disk but also in RAM. It allows you to significantly speed up the work. It is important to consider that you will need a large amount of random-access memory in your computer.

Maintaining the multiple authorization options. It is configured additionally by IP, MySQL, NTLM, or through the LDAP database.

The negative sides of a transparent proxy:

In the transparent mode, the server does not work with SSL. It means that you cannot access the site with the address https: // … In authentication mode, it can work on the HTTP, SSL, FTP protocols.

It does not know how to work in two modes at once: authentication and transparent access to the Internet without any settings, logins and other things. Authentication mode means the user needs to enter a username and password or other settings, which are provided by the administrator.

The server cannot work with POP3, SMTP, IMAP mail servers. You are not able to receive or send mail through a proxy squid.

Using a cascading proxy

As it was previously mentioned, squid can save information in the RAM of the computer, which, if it is necessary, can be returned in a split second. During the searching for information, a cascading proxy allows you to access all groups of the network only if it is absent. Undoubtedly, it is a convenient and useful feature.

Summing up, we can confidently repeat that squid proxy server is an excellent corporate solution for organizing secure Internet access. Squid is a transparent proxy that allows you to access the Internet without additional authentication. However, it also has its drawbacks, the main of which is the inability to use SSL.

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