I found different kinds of explanations about what Proxy ARP is, just few of them were understandable at first. After merging all of them this explanation came out of my networking workshop:
- Assuming that a router has an ARP entry of some IP address, if he receives an ARP request from somebody for that IP, the router will respond with its own MAC address.
- Proxy ARP is fairly simple technique for nodes to get MAC address of a destination host that is on a different subnet but on the same router. Same router different interface.
And this one to:
- If we have in the network one edge router that is our way out from the local LAN network. That router has Proxy ARP enabled by default. When it receives an ARP request on his interface for a client that is not actually from that local network it will try to be helpful and it will search his routing table if that network is locally connected on some other local interface. If he finds it, it will respond with his own MAC address to tell the source that he is the way to go towards that host.
If we look at the image below, I prepared a more detailed example for those who are still a bit confused about it.
It’s a technique that enables our R7 router on the image below to proxy ARP request from C1 computer which tries to find MAC address of computer C3.
You need to note that C1 has address from /16 range and that is why it thinks that 192.168.50.50 is on the same subnet as 192.168.1.11 . If that was not the case and C1 had the address 192.168.1.11/24, it would send the ARP asking what is MAC address of default gateway. It will go to default gateway because he will know that he is not directly connected to all of network 192.168.0.0/16. We are then talking about standard routing by getting the packets from one subnet to another using routing table examination.