A Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Use of Web App Proxy
What is a web app proxy and how does it work? Learn more about its uses and importance in improving the accessibility of a digital network to its users.
The modern digital infrastructure largely relies on websites to operate on the internet. However, with the growing trend of mobile phones, the use of applications has spiked as well. The customers’ rising interest in apps has led to the idea of web applications, a website version of an app that is accessible through web browsers. Web app development experts focus on creating an interactive experience for mobile users to access applications through their web browsers. It enables them to open published applications on their own devices.
The ease of access offered by web applications has led enterprises to rely on them for internal communication and information exchange. Employees in an organization can access corporate applications through a closed network within their offices. It ensures selective access to users that belong to a particular corporate network. However, it also raises an accessibility issue for corporate applications outside the office network. Web app development experts have addressed the issue through the idea of web app proxy.
In this article, we will define a web application proxy and explain its functionality. We will also explore some leading uses and important benefits of web app proxy in providing a secure channel for remote accessibility of web applications.
Read along to get insightful details about web application proxy and its role in redefining the remote accessibility of corporate networks.
Defining Web Application Proxy
Web application proxy servers are types of servers that provide a communication channel between clients and web applications. It forwards client requests to a web application and provides a response back to the client. Organizations use separate servers when using a web application proxy to gain access to web applications in a secure environment.
Web application proxy is a role service in Windows Server Remote Access that allows authorized devices to access published applications within a corporate network with Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS). It also offers a reverse proxy functionality that allows users to access corporate applications on devices outside of the organization’s network through a multifactor authentication process that keeps the corporate applications safe from untrusted devices.
The proxy server also provides caching and encryption services for the organization’s applications, providing a safety barrier between corporate applications and the internet. As a result, a web proxy server enables users to access applications remotely while ensuring a secure communication channel. Selective access keeps the network safe from unmanaged and untrusted devices, keeping the corporate network safe from external malicious attacks.
In addition to improved accessibility of corporate web applications, the web app proxy improves the overall performance of the applications. It ensures that only users with relevant authority are able to access the web applications from anywhere outside of work and that too in a secure digital environment. Hence, web application proxy servers are important in creating an improved and dynamic remote access management console for organizations.
Now that you understand the concept of a web application proxy, let’s take a look at how it works.
Web Application Proxy Architecture
Web application proxy configuration is a complex process that begins with the selection of an appropriate WAP server that meets the requirements of a corporate network. The choice is based on the reliability, security, and ease of use of the web application proxy servers. The server manager is always deployed after installing AD FS to ensure that only authenticated and authorized devices can access the corporate applications.
While configuration is managed at the backend, it is important to understand the functionality of a web application proxy in ensuring selective access and publishing applications.
How does a web application proxy work?
A web application proxy works by providing application publishing capabilities to organizations. The service ensures remote access to published web applications for only users of the organization via AD FS authentication.
A WAP service ensures that selective web applications are accessible to the corporate network. The first step is to publish applications in WAP to allow users access to them remotely without installing the application software on their devices. It enables the reverse proxy functionality of a WAP server, leading it to select appropriate methods to process client requests.
The next step is to access applications. It begins with a preauthentication process to determine authorized devices and users before they gain access to applications. The two forms of preauthentication are as follows:
- AD FS preauthentication - it requires the user to log in to an Fs server before they can access published applications
- Pass-through preauthentication - it does not require users to submit their credentials before they can access applications
Web application proxy also supports single sign on (SSO) that requires users to add their credentials only once. For all subsequent logins, the information is saved for reuse. Moreover, in the case of AD FS authentication, additional features of workplace join and multifactor access control. The former joins devices with a common workplace, while the latter ensures the implementation of stricter security protocols.
Hence, a web application proxy works to create a pathway between published web applications and the end user. It facilitates the publishing and accessing of web applications while maintaining the network security of an organization. It allows users to access corporate applications remotely using authorized devices. It also allows corporate networks to manage access control to their published applications.
Uses of Web Application Proxy
A web application proxy supports corporate resources to publish applications and ensure secure remote access to its users. The proxy service ensures that web applications can be accessed on devices other than corporate laptops with the proper form of authentication. In this process, the web application proxy serves two main uses - providing reverse web proxy and federation service proxy.
What are the uses of a web application proxy?
The two main uses of web application proxy include the provision of:
- Reverse web proxy - to ensure reverse proxy functionality
- Federation service proxy - to manage authentication and requests of remote-access users
The reverse web proxy ensures the reverse proxy functionality of the server. It forwards client requests to web servers without revealing the identity of the server. It also moves requests on behalf of the web server. Hence, it creates a pathway for communication between the user and the web server, ensuring a secure and efficient channel. The reverse web proxy also has the capability to regulate user requests based on their demand and location.
In addition to it, the WAP also offers a federation service proxy. The federation proxy is a role service of AD FS that lies in a fraction of a particular network separated from the rest of the system. Being part of the AD FS, it manages the authentication of users trying to access applications remotely. The Fs proxy can authenticate or issue a claim to remote users trying to access a particular network on the basis of their authorization.
Thus, a web application proxy is used to provide a secure channel for remote access to web applications within a corporate network. It also allows organizations to publish applications using an AD FS server to ensure selective access to only authenticated and authorized devices.
Benefits of Web Application Proxy
Web application proxy has created a dynamic digital environment to access corporate applications through authenticated and authorized devices. While it ensures ease of communication and information handling within a corporate network at all times, its benefits include several other aspects.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important advantages of web application proxy.
What are the benefits of web application proxy?
Some of the leading advantages of web application proxy include:
- Increased security
- Simplified remote access
- Seamless integration with AD FS
- Load balancing capabilities
1. Increased security
One of the major benefits of web application proxy is the increased security of web application accessibility for remote users. The service ensures that only users from a selective corporate network are able to access that organization’s published applications through their web browsers. The fs servers enable a multifactor authentication system that requires users to add their credentials for logging into the system remotely.
The security features create a firewall between the internet and an organization’s corporate applications, ensuring safety from outside threats and malicious attacks. It allows external users to access web applications without letting them into the backend servers. It ensures network isolation and the safety of its corporate applications.
2. Simplified remote access
A web application proxy is a role service of the Remote Access role in a Windows server that enables an end user’s device outside of a specified network to access their published web applications. With features like single sign on and workplace join, the web application proxy servers provide ease of access for people within a corporate network when they have to work on the corporate applications remotely. The network recognizes the authorized users and saves their relevant information to enable quick access on subsequent login attempts.
3. Seamless integration with AD FS
The integration of selective access for users outside of the organization’s network becomes easy with the installation of AD FS in a web application proxy. It offers sign on services and access control to both old and modern applications, making it easy to implement in all web app development environments. Moreover, it requires the same set of credentials when accessing applications on-premises or remotely through an authenticated and authorized device. It also offers an easy way to authenticate IDs within the organizational directory, saving developers from extensive authentication efforts.
4. Load balancing capabilities
The federation service proxy enables the WAP to authenticate or issue a claim to any user’s request for access. In doing so, the web application proxy has the capacity to control and manage the incoming load of requests. As a result, it organizes a load of traffic on the backend servers. With its ability to manage requests and communication between users and the web servers, it balances the load capabilities of the backend web servers.
Hence, the web application proxy offers ease of selective access with better security and load management for the corporate network. The ease of implementation offered by the AD FS makes it a favorable choice for managing communication channels between users and web servers.
A web application proxy is a server that allows a secure channel of communication for users to access web applications with proper authorization. It enables corporate networks to publish their web applications with proper multifactor authentication in place via the AD FS server. Hence, the web proxy server becomes a barrier between corporate applications and the internet that allows access only to authenticated and authorized devices.
It plays an important role in improving the performance of corporate applications, and that too within a secure network. The reverse web proxy and federation service proxy work together to create a dynamic remote access role of the web application proxy that initiates, controls and manages communication between the client and the web server in a secure and efficient manner.
Some major advantages of web application proxy include better security, simple and easy remote accessibility, ease of integration with the AD FS server, and proper load balancing capabilities among the backend servers. It plays a crucial role in the web application development process as it enables developers to create a sufficient barricade to keep the corporate network isolated while providing selective access to external users. As a result, improving the functionality of the network and hence the web applications.
Web application proxy has the potential to improve the future of web app development. With increased reliance on machine learning processes at the backend, the importance and need for data has grown significantly. Hence, there is a growing need to maintain better security of web applications and corporate networks. Web application proxy can contribute to establishing improved security networks and better management of increasing traffic on multiple servers.
Updated: May 31, 2023