HTTP Working GroupM. Nottingham
Intended status: Standards TrackP. Sikora
Expires: August 13, 2021Google
February 9, 2021

The Proxy-Status HTTP Response Header Field


This document defines the Proxy-Status HTTP field to convey the details of intermediary response handling, including generated errors.

Note to Readers

RFC EDITOR: please remove this section before publication

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This Internet-Draft will expire on August 13, 2021.

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1. Introduction

HTTP intermediaries -- including both forward proxies and gateways (also known as "reverse proxies") -- have become an increasingly significant part of HTTP deployments. In particular, reverse proxies and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) form part of the critical infrastructure of many Web sites.

Typically, HTTP intermediaries forward requests towards the origin server and then forward their responses back to clients. However, if an error occurs before a response is obtained from upstream, the response is often generated by the intermediary itself.

HTTP accommodates these types of errors with a few status codes; for example, 502 Bad Gateway and 504 Gateway Timeout. However, experience has shown that more information is necessary to aid debugging and communicate what's happened to the client. Additionally, intermediaries sometimes want to convey additional information about their handling of a response, even if they did not generate it.

To enable these uses, Section 2 defines a new HTTP response field to allow intermediaries to convey details of their handling of a response, Section 2.1 enumerates the kind of information that can be conveyed, and Section 2.4 defines a set of error types for use when a proxy encounters an issue when obtaining a response for the request.

1.1. Notational Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

This specification uses Structured Fields [I-D.ietf-httpbis-header-structure] to specify syntax and parsing. The terms sf-list, sf-item, sf-string, sf-token, sf-integer and key refer to the structured types defined therein.

Note that in this specification, "proxy" is used to indicate both forward and reverse proxies, otherwise known as gateways. "Next hop" indicates the connection in the direction leading to the origin server for the request.

3. IANA Considerations

Upon publication, please create the HTTP Proxy-Status Parameters registry and the HTTP Proxy Error Types registry at and populate them with the types defined in Section 2.1 and Section 2.4 respectively; see Section 2.3 and Section 2.5 for its associated procedures.

4. Security Considerations

One of the primary security concerns when using Proxy-Status is leaking information that might aid an attacker. For example, information about the intermediary's configuration and back-end topology can be exposed.

As a result, care needs to be taken when deciding to generate a Proxy-Status field. Note that intermediaries are not required to generate a Proxy-Status field in any response, and can conditionally generate them based upon request attributes (e.g., authentication tokens, IP address).

Likewise, generation of all parameters is optional.

5. References

5.1. Normative References

Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997, <>.
Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, “Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs”, BCP 26, RFC 8126, DOI 10.17487/RFC8126, June 2017, <>.
Hoffman, P., Sullivan, A., and K. Fujiwara, “DNS Terminology”, BCP 219, RFC 8499, DOI 10.17487/RFC8499, January 2019, <>.
Leiba, B., “Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words”, BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, May 2017, <>.
Nottingham, M. and P. Kamp, “Structured Field Values for HTTP”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-header-structure-19 (work in progress), June 2020.
Friedl, S., Popov, A., Langley, A., and E. Stephan, “Transport Layer Security (TLS) Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation Extension”, RFC 7301, DOI 10.17487/RFC7301, July 2014, <>.

5.2. Informative References

Ludin, S., Nottingham, M., and N. Sullivan, “Loop Detection in Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)”, RFC 8586, DOI 10.17487/RFC8586, April 2019, <>.

Authors' Addresses

Mark Nottingham
Prahran, VIC
Piotr Sikora