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Port Forwarding vs Proxy

Posted on 2014-03-31
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As I understand it, Port forwarding sends to a specified IP(port), and this is usually performed by a router or a firewall

However, a proxy does much the same thing, but is usually a server of some sort in the DMZ as opposed to the firewall or router

So what am I missing, what is the difference between a proxy and a firewall
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Question by:Anthony Lucia
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arnold earned 500 total points
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port forwarding deals with packet data it does not review what is in the request.

To differentiate, I'll use the snail mail approach.

port forwarding looks at the envelope and to whom the letter is addressed, and forwards it along.

the proxy in this example is a correspondence processing group of people.
When a letter arrives, they open the letter. look to whom it is addressed, and forward it along.

The difference is the basis on which the determination is made where this should go.

The packet is the envelope (TCP/IP).
The request is always enclosed within the envelope (TCP/IP)
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by:arnold
ID: 39967701
Yes I know, requests are not contained in a single packet.  For the purposes of this example, they do.
Or it would necessitate the introduction of tcp/IP packets, packet assembly, retransmission,..... etc.

Since proxy requires the receipt of all packets to determine the next step/destiantion while the port forwarding setup does not it forwards a packet at a time to be assembled on the receiving end as needed.


It might be possible to illustrate as a treasure hunt where the map is made up of pieces (puzzle) and each piece is sent individually.
Each piece of the puzzle is numbered N of M in no specific order as far as assembling the puzzle. i.e. the map is broken into 32 pieces and labeled in no speicific way 1 of 32 to 32 of 32.

port forwarding when each piece arrives will direct it to the group of people designated to assemble the map (map processors).

proxy handling will mean there is a receiving group of people, who will be charged of making sure they received all 32 pieces before delivering the pieces  to the Map processors.

The difference deals with port forwarding the map processors, would have to initiate a request to the original sender that a piece is missing.  In the proxy case, the receiving group will handle this task.

The true distinction, if all pieces are not delivered, in the proxy setup, the map processors are not aware that a map was ever sent while in the port forwarding, an incomplete set of data was sent on which the map processing group could not act.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Anthony Lucia
ID: 39967873
I understand.  Thanks for taking the time to explain that
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