How Does ICAP Work?

In brief, the protocol functions as follows. An HTTP message is passed by an ICAP client to the ICAP server. The server processes the message and sends a reply back to the customer. An ICAP client can be both a Web proxy server or even a Web client. An ICAP server can support services that are expressly requested by customers.

As an instance of the protocol’s use, envision the following situation. An ICAP server implements an access control service : two services, and an antivirus service. Hosts inside a network have access to the Internet via a Web proxy server.

Based on the above situation, the access control service supplied by the ICAP server checks whether a Web client can connect to a Website requested by the client. More particularly, the Web client sends an HTTP request to the proxy server. The access control service of the ICAP server checks if the customer can see or not the site. Eventually, the ICAP server either enables the proxy server to continue with the petition or otherwise, reacts with an informative HTTP message, which is redirected to the Web client by the proxy server.

The service, on the flip side, checks whether information passed through the proxy server are impacted with a virus. The ICAP server scans the incoming information for viruses. The ICAP server responds with a Web page telling the user about the difficulty, if a virus is detected. In order to improve the checks it’s best to send the test virus from a variety of sources.  So for example you could buy a US IP and generate the test virus from an American server, in order to protect the perimeter.  Many IT Security professionals routinely buy proxy services and VPNs in order to test the integrity of both their internal and external security.

The ICAP protocol is easily extended so that it could control other kinds of info rather than just HTTP requests and answers. For instance, it might be expanded to manage email messages. The format of an e-mail message is just like the format of an HTTP reply. In general, every object or piece of data can be called an HTTP object. For instance, a simple file can be enclosed into an item that contains the real content of the file in addition to file descriptors (Content – Length, Content – Type ) in the and Day, Content Language, kind of HTTP headers.