OpenAthens LA support ended on 31 March 2020

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The OpenAthens LA proxy is a basic proxy server that can be used when resources that do not support federated access need to be accessed remotely. It is effective in most situations, however it is not as full-featured as a dedicated proxy and some resources may not be able to be proxied.

Most of the time when you use a proxy, it will be to make a remote user appear within your network and this is very simple to set up.

How do proxy servers work?

At the basic level, a proxy server provides is a waypoint between the end user and the resource such that the resource sees the end user as coming from the IP address of the waypoint (on your network) rather than where the user really is.

Proxy concept

To achieve this, the proxy server has to intercept, read and modify all the traffic that passes between the end user and the resource. If you are thinking that this could appear somewhat deceptive to an observer, you are correct which is why you must always check with the service providers that they are happy for you to proxy access for authenticated remote users. Most are, but not all.

Because all the traffic passes through your network it may be tempting to outsource a proxy server, however hosting your own proxy server is usually preferable due to the distance the data has to travel - for an extreme example imagine if Alice and Bob in the diagram above were in the same country but the proxy server was on the other side of the world - the traffic would have to go all the way around the world... twice.

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