HTTP(S) connection and squid proxy issues

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Having set up an Ubuntu 18.04.6 Server recently, with iRedMail, LEMP stack, BIND9 DNS server, ISC DHCP server and Squid 3.5, I've encountered some troubles visible on the client (Windows 10 Home) side.

  1. Without a proxy specified in the browser's parameters, any attempt to connect a site throws 'invalid URL' or 'connection timed out'. Only if I explicitly specify the proxy, the connection to the Internet can be established.
  2. Any attempt to turn Squid proxy transparent leads to the 'empty response' errors, i.e. it can't act as a transparent proxy server.

All of it runs on a rather old hardware, like a veteran Intel MB (SE7320SP2) with second NIC as the network PCI card StarTech ST1000BT32.

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