The Via general-header field MUST be used by gateways and proxies to indicate the intermediate protocols and recipients between the user agent and the server on requests, and between the origin server and the client on responses. It is analogous to the "Received" field of RFC 822 and is intended to be used for tracking message forwards, avoiding request loops, and identifying the protocol capabilities of all senders along the request/response chain.
Via = "Via" ":" 1#( received-protocol received-by [ comment ] ) received-protocol = [ protocol-name "/" ] protocol-version protocol-name = token protocol-version = token received-by = ( host [ ":" port ] ) | pseudonym pseudonym = token
The received-protocol indicates the protocol version of the message received by the server or client along each segment of the request/response chain. The received-protocol version is appended to the Via field value when the message is forwarded so that information about the protocol capabilities of upstream applications remains visible to all recipients.
The protocol-name is optional if and only if it would be "HTTP". The received-by field is normally the host and optional port number of a recipient server or client that subsequently forwarded the message. However, if the real host is considered to be sensitive information, it MAY be replaced by a pseudonym. If the port is not given, it MAY be assumed to be the default port of the received-protocol.
Multiple Via field values represent each proxy or gateway that has forwarded the message. Each recipient MUST append its information such that the end result is ordered according to the sequence of forwarding applications.
Comments MAY be used in the Via header field to identify the software of the recipient proxy or gateway, analogous to the User-Agent and Server header fields. However, all comments in the Via field are optional and MAY be removed by any recipient prior to forwarding the message.
For example, a request message could be sent from an HTTP/1.0 user agent to an internal proxy code-named "fred", which uses HTTP/1.1 to forward the request to a public proxy at nowhere.com, which completes the request by forwarding it to the origin server at www.ics.uci.edu. The request received by www.ics.uci.edu would then have the following Via header field:
Via: 1.0 fred, 1.1 nowhere.com (Apache/1.1)
Proxies and gateways used as a portal through a network firewall SHOULD NOT, by default, forward the names and ports of hosts within the firewall region. This information SHOULD only be propagated if explicitly enabled. If not enabled, the received-by host of any host behind the firewall SHOULD be replaced by an appropriate pseudonym for that host.
For organizations that have strong privacy requirements for hiding internal structures, a proxy MAY combine an ordered subsequence of Via header field entries with identical received-protocol values into a single such entry. For example,
Via: 1.0 ricky, 1.1 ethel, 1.1 fred, 1.0 lucy
could be collapsed to
Via: 1.0 ricky, 1.1 mertz, 1.0 lucy
Applications SHOULD NOT combine multiple entries unless they are all under the same organizational control and the hosts have already been replaced by pseudonyms. Applications MUST NOT combine entries which have different received-protocol values.