Operation and uses of the web cache or proxy server

To understand everything a little better, we are going to reaffirm some of the basic concepts, explaining what HTTP and HTTPS is and what it means.

What is HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTP is the acronym for «Hypertext Transfer Protocol “or” Hypertext Transfer Protocol«. Its much more current variant and which is used right now as a hypertext transfer standard, HTTPS means the same, but adding «secure»At the end, that is, secure or encrypted. The use of both protocols is the same, the data transfer. The basic difference between the two is the power of that final “s”, a protocol HTTP is a hypertext transfer protocol between two points which is visible to anyone who intercepts that communication, however, in a data transfer with protocol HTTPS a connection is used secure using a certificate for SSL / TLS use which is only visible to the sender and receiver, since anyone who intercepts that data transfer will not be able to decrypt anything, because communication with HTTPS uses TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3 to encrypt and authenticate communications.

Now what we have left in the air is a couple of concepts to be able to clear any doubts that may arise.

What are the SSL and TLS protocols?

The SSL protocol whose acronym means “Secure Socket Layer” or “Secure Sockets Layer” and the TLS protocol, “Transport Layer Security” or “Transport Layer Security” are protocols designed to ensure that information is not It may be read or manipulated by systems other than the issuer of the request and the receiver of the same. The SSL protocol is currently deprecated due to lack of security, the evolution of SSL is TLS and it is the protocol that is currently used.

Really the TLS is version 3.1 of SSL. It was introduced when the Internet required a more stable and secure protocol. Through a standardization of the process, the TLS protocol was devised in which, the two parties involved, communicate and negotiate the keys they will use to encrypt and decrypt the message. The points on which the TLS Certificate works are the cryptographic security thanks to the negotiation between users’ servers, the interoperability between applications, the extensibility and the efficiency. Currently, the TLS 1.2 protocols are used and also TLS 1.3, which has recently come out, and which provides us with greater security (security by default) and greater speed.

We already have all the basis to understand well the operation of the web cache.

What is the web cache or proxy server?

The concept of a web cache can be easily understood if we liken it to a “store”. This store is within the network that receives HTTP and HTTPS requests on behalf of the origin web server. Its operation consists of storing the objects that we have recently requested as a client. In this way, by configuring our browsers so that all HTTP and HTTPS requests are directed to this store first, these objects can be obtained more quickly without the need to go to the Internet since they are already there because they have been previously requested.

The communication process

To understand everything, we will put a simple case: loading a web page. We open the web page and the first thing the web browser will do is establish a TCP connection (Transmission Control Protocol or Transmission Control Protocol) with the proxy server or web cache, and it will make an HTTP or HTTPS request for the object that needs to be loaded in the page which may or may not be stored in said proxy server.

Now the proxy server will check if it has a copy of the object or file that has been requested by the browser, and if it does, the web cache will quickly return the requested object to the browser for loading. If it does not have this object, the web cache opens a TCP connection with the origin server to request the object it requires to load on the page, after requesting it, it stores it in our store (web cache or proxy server) and what it sends to the client who has requested it, although what will actually arrive will be a copy of the original.

A proxy server acts as a server (for clients, that is, us) and as a client for other servers (when it requests the object if it is not stored on disk). The one who installs a proxy server is usually an ISP (telephone operator) in order to save money on internet traffic.

Reasons to install a Proxy server

The main reason is speed up data transfer by reducing request response time of a client, it is accentuated more when the bandwidth between the client and the origin server is much less than between the client and the cache. The proxy server is a locally installed computer, which results in a high speed between client and web cache which will be able to supply the requested objects very quickly.

Outbound Internet traffic is greatly reducedThus, operators can make connections of any type much more efficient without the need to improve Internet connections, which translates into a cost savings in installation of said web cache. Likewise, we manage not to collapse the Internet networks so much and therefore that the applications that really need to go to the Internet improve their performance.

Let’s imagine that we do not have a web cache and that our Internet connection is 10Mbps, however, our network needs more, if the intensity of traffic on the network approaches 1, the delays begin to increase, and it grows without limit since the “tasks” are stored.

Today we do not have problems with a fiber optic connection, but for areas where this connection is not yet available, the use of this method greatly improves the loading speed in browsers, since the success rate of the use of a web cache is between 0.2 and 0.7 therefore, between 20% and 70% of the requested objects will be from our LAN and not from the Internet, the traffic intensity will drop to levels that we can afford, and in this way the connection and upload of transmission data will be much faster.

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