Archive for proxy

What is a Proxy?

Posted in Uncategorized, security, big-ip, silva, application delivery, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 28th, 2017

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The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another. You may have heard of a proxy vote. Where you submit your choice and someone else votes the ballot on your behalf.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and does something to requests and sometimes responses.

The first kind of proxy we’ll discuss is a half proxy. With a Half-Proxy, a client will connect to the proxy and the proxy will establish the session with the servers. The proxy will then respond back to the client with the information. After that initial connection is set up, the rest of the traffic with go right through the proxy to the back-end resources. The proxy may do things like L4 port switching, routing or NAT’ing but at this point it is not doing anything intelligent other than passing traffic.

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Basically, the half-proxy sets up a call and then the client and server does their thing. Half-proxies are also good for Direct Server Return (DSR). For protocols like streaming protocols, you’ll have the initial set up but instead of going through the proxy for the rest of the connections, the server will bypass the proxy and go straight to the client. This is so you don’t waste resources on the proxy for something that can be done directly server to client.

A Full Proxy on the other hand, handles all the traffic. A full proxy creates a client connection along with a separate server connection with a little gap in the middle. The client connects to the proxy on one end and the proxy establishes a separate, independent connection to the server. This is bi-directionally on both sides. There is never any blending of connections from the client side to the server side – the connections are independent. This is what we mean when we say BIG-IP is a full proxy architecture.

The full proxy intelligence is in that OSI Gap. With a half-proxy, it is mostly client side traffic on the way in during a request and then does what it needs…with a full proxy you can manipulate, inspect, drop, do what you need to the traffic on both sides and in both directions. Whether a request or response, you can manipulate traffic on the client side request, the server side request, the server side response or client side response. You get a lot more power with a full proxy than you would with a half proxy.

reverseproxy_thumb.jpgWith BIG-IP (a full proxy) on the server side it can be used as a reverse proxy. When clients make a request from the internet, they terminate on the reverse proxy sitting in front of application servers. Reverse proxies are good for traditional load balancing, optimization, server side caching, and security functionality. If you know certain clients or IP spaces are acceptable, you can whitelist them. Same with known malicious sources or bad ranges/clients, you can blacklist them. You can do it at the IP layer (L4) or you can go up the stack to Layer 7 and control an http/s request. Or add a BIG-IP ASM policy on there. As it inspects the protocol traffic if it sees some anomaly that is not native to the application like a SQL injection, you can block it.

forwardproxy_2.jpgOn the client side, BIG-IP can also be a forward proxy. In this case, the client connects to the BIG-IP on an outbound request and the proxy acts on behalf of the client to the outside world. This is perfect for things like client side caching (grabbing a video and storing locally), filtering (blocking certain time-wasting sites or malicious content) along with privacy (masking internal resources) along with security.

You can also have a services layer, like an ICAP server, where you can pass traffic to an inspection engine prior to hitting the internet. You can manipulate client side traffic out to the internet, server side in from the internet, handle locally on the platform or or pass off to a third party services entity. A full proxy is your friend in an application delivery environment.

If you'd like to learn more about Proxies, check out the resources below including the Lightboard Lesson: What is a Proxy?

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Lightboard Lessons: What is a Proxy?

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 15th, 2017

The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and do something to requests and sometimes responses.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I light up the various types of proxies.

 

 

 

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Ride The Crime Coaster

Posted in security, big-ip, application security, silva, research, law, cybercrime, context, proxy by psilva on April 10th, 2013

Now that would be a fun amusement park ride - the Crime Coaster - with the hills and valleys designed based on crime statistic charts.  You can even get a digital photo of yourself as you fly thru the Tunnel of Turmoil.  Muuhahahahahahahahahah!

With all the dire warnings of how cybercrime is the nation's top priority, I was wondering how other crimes have been faring.  And NO, this is not a for/against 'gun control' rant but for instance, is burglary loosing its luster to smashing a server's window?  Since cyber crime is a billion dollar business will the door-to-door thief change tactics?  Probably not for now but as physical, non-cyber crimes drop, does digital crime go up?  Or, since 'stealing something' is the ultimate goal, as more available methods (like cyber) to accomplish the goal become available, does all crime go up?  I should also note that crime stats should be taken with a grain of salt since law enforcement can only comment on the crimes that have been reported to them.  Crimes like car theft are often reported due to insurance claims while other crimes, like domestic disputes, are under reported due to embarrassment or other hindering factors.  Add to that, different jurisdictions have various scales of classification, penalties and measurement. Plus, the recent report that says few companies report that cybercrime results in big losses only adds to the confusion.

According to the FBI, violent crimes in the US are down for the 5th year in a row.  Granted, for now, cybercrime is probably more property related than violent but that could change.  Cities like Los Angeles, are reporting that crime - violent and property- is down significantly even though, overall, LA is much higher than the rest of California and violent crime in LA occurs at a rate higher than in most communities of all population sizes in America, according to neighborhoodscout.com.  Most criminologists agree that several factors are contributing to the decline.  We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world; there has been an increased police presence; there are security cameras everywhere; the aging population; and programs to help both the youngsters and those in need can all be attributed to the decline.

So while our physical bodies and personal property in the material world are safer, our identity, privacy, passwords, infrastructure, and other digital collateral are more at risk than ever.  On a daily basis, companies are getting probed and breached yet might not know or simply might not report it.  I bet, however, if someone threw a rock smashing their lobby window, a couple Five-O's will be on the scene taking statements.  The company, local employees and the police will have a BOLO issued and everyone will be on heightened alert.  There might also be additional security measures taken, tempered glass, CCTV, key card entry and other physical protection mechanisms.

We readily deploy layered security for our physical property with locks, alarms, dogs, cameras, window bars, weapons, panic rooms, etc all within the context of what we are trying to protect.  We should do the same for our digital assets.  Imagine if we took the same safeguards (or paranoia in this case), albeit with different technologies, to protect our bits and bytes.  Yes, there will still be breaches but maybe things like D/DoS, SQLi and other well known vulnerabilities can be greatly reduced since we do have the technology to protect against such attacks.  It just has to be deployed.

We thwart criminals and protect our personal physical property with a vast array of mechanisms and we feel/are secure...maybe we should take that same focus, fear and fever in protecting our digital self.  Then, as you peel off the pixilated mask you'll hear, '...and I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddling firewalls!'

ps

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