31.5. Configuring a Transparent Proxy

The usual way of working with proxy servers is the following: the Web browser sends requests to a certain port in the proxy server and the proxy provides these required objects, whether they are in its cache or not. When working in a network, several situations may arise:

In all these cases, a transparent proxy may be used. The principle is very easy: the proxy intercepts and answers the requests of the Web browser, so the Web browser receives the requested pages without knowing from where they are coming. As the name indicates, the entire process is done transparently.

31.5.1. Configuration Options in /etc/squid/squid.conf

The options to activate in the /etc/squid/squid.conf file to get the transparent proxy up and running are:

  • httpd_accel_host virtual

  • httpd_accel_port 80

    The port number where the actual HTTP server is located

  • httpd_accel_with_proxy on

  • httpd_accel_uses_host_header on

31.5.2. Firewall Configuration with SuSEfirewall2

Now redirect all incoming requests via the firewall with help of a port forwarding rule to the Squid port. To do this, use the enclosed tool SuSEfirewall2, described in Section 37.4.1, “Configuring the Firewall with YaST”. Its configuration file can be found in /etc/sysconfig/SuSEfirewall2. The configuration file consists of well-documented entries. To set a transparent proxy, you must configure several firewall options:

  • Device pointing to the Internet: FW_DEV_EXT="eth1"

  • Device pointing to the network: FW_DEV_INT="eth0"

Define ports and services (see /etc/services) on the firewall that are accessed from untrusted (external) networks such as the Internet. In this example, only Web services are offered to the outside:


Define ports or services (see /etc/services) on the firewall that are accessed from the secure (internal) network, both via TCP and UDP:

FW_SERVICES_INT_TCP="domain www 3128"

This allows accessing Web services and Squid (whose default port is 3128). The service “domain” stands for DNS (domain name service). This service is commonly used.

The most important option is option number 15:

Example 31.1. Firewall Configuration: Option 15

# 15.)
# Which accesses to services should be redirected to a local port
# on the firewall machine?
# This can be used to force all internal users to surf via your
# Squid proxy, or transparently redirect incoming Web traffic to
# a secure Web server.
# Format: list of <source network>[,<destination network>,<protocol>[,dport[:lport]]
# Where protocol is either tcp or udp. dport is the original
# destination port and lport the port on the local machine to
# redirect the traffic to
# An exclamation mark in front of source or destination network
# means everything EXCEPT the specified network
# Example: ",0/0,tcp,80,3128 0/0,,tcp,80,8080"
# Note: contrary to previous SuSEfirewall2 versions it is no longer necessary
# to additionally open the local port

The comments above show the syntax to follow. First, enter the IP address and the netmask of the internal networks accessing the proxy firewall. Second, enter the IP address and the netmask to which these clients send their requests. In the case of Web browsers, specify the networks 0/0, a wild card that means “to everywhere.” After that, enter the original port to which these requests are sent and, finally, the port to which all these requests are redirected. Because Squid supports protocols other than HTTP, redirect requests from other ports to the proxy, such as FTP (port 21), HTTPS, or SSL (port 443). In this example, Web services (port 80) are redirected to the proxy port (port 3128). If there are more networks or services to add, they must be separated by a blank space in the respective entry.


To start the firewall and the new configuration with it, change an entry in the /etc/sysconfig/SuSEfirewall2 file. The entry START_FW must be set to "yes".

Start Squid as shown in Section 31.3, “Starting Squid”. To check if everything is working properly, check the Squid logs in /var/log/squid/access.log. To verify that all ports are correctly configured, perform a port scan on the machine from any computer outside your network. Only the Web services (port 80) should be open. To scan the ports with nmap, the command syntax is nmap -O IP_address.