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A proxy agent is a network management element which acts as a middleman between a management system and an unmanaged device, allowing management by proxy. The proxy agent appears to the device or client as the server itself so it is also an element of security since the management server is completely invisible to connected devices. There are many types of proxy agents meant for different purposes, such as SNMP proxy agents, WINS proxy agents and DHCP proxy agents.
A proxy agent is an element which allows a management server to communicate with devices or clients outside of its functional domain, meaning the proxy agent provides additional functionalities, which allows it to communicate with these unmanaged devices and then relay control signals between them and the management server. This is the case for a WINS proxy agent, which allows the non-WINS devices to participate in the subnet by facilitating communication with the management server by passing requests from the unmanaged clients to the WINS server. This is also true for an SNMP proxy agent, which facilitates communication with serially connected SNMP devices such as some advanced models of UPS, allowing them to be controlled by a Network Management System.
In the case of security that a proxy agent can provide, the best example is a DHCP proxy agent that acts as a stand-in for the actual DHCP server, ensuring that it is invisible from clients. Because the clients can only see the proxy agent, they are unable to communicate directly with the DHCP server, lessening the possibility of an attack.