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An application-level proxy server provides all the basic proxy features and also provides extensive packet analysis. When packets from the outside arrive at the gateway, they are examined and evaluated to determine whether the security policy allows the packet to enter into the internal network. Not only does the server evaluate IP addresses, it also looks at the data in the packets for corruption and alteration.
A typical application-level gateway can provide proxy services for applications and protocols like Telnet, FTP (File Transfer Protocol), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). Note that a separate proxy must be installed for each application-level service. (Some vendors achieve security simply by not providing proxies for some services, so be careful in your evaluation.) With proxies, security policies can be much more powerful and flexible because all the information in packets can be used by administrators to write the rules that determine how packets are handled by the gateway. It is easy to audit just about everything that happens on the gateway. You can also strip computer names to hide internal systems and evaluate the contents of packets for appropriateness and security.
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.