Once in a while i have to connect to a server where access is highly restricted.
Only inbound SSH via VPN is allowed by the DMZ firewall.
Outbound HTTP connections are blocked.

I'm looking for an easy way to tunnel web access through my SSH session, so i can install updates and software via yum / apt-get. Ideally, i would like to avoid installing additional software/services in the protected area.

What do you do in such a situation?

SSH has the -D <port> SOCKS proxy option. But unfortunately it's only one-way from client to server and there is no reverse option.

2 Answers 2


I finally managed to accomplish this with ssh only:

  1. start a local SOCKS proxy on your client machine (using ssh -D) EDIT: not necessary with SSH>7.6
  2. connect to remote server and setup a reverse port forwarding (ssh -R) to your local SOCKS proxy
  3. configure the server software to use the forwarded proxy

1. Start local socks proxy in the background

EDIT SSH>7.6 allow a simpler syntax to start the proxy. Skip this and continue with step 2!

Connect to localhost via SSH and open SOCKS proxy on port 54321.

$ ssh -f -N -D 54321 localhost

-f runs SSH in the background.

Note: If you close the terminal where you started the command, the proxy process will be killed. Also remember to clean up after yourself by either closing the terminal window when you are done or by killing the process yourself!

2. connect to remote server and setup reverse port forwarding

Bind remote port 6666 to local port 54321. This makes your local socks proxy available to the remote site on port 6666.

$ ssh root@target -R6666:localhost:54321

EDIT SSH>7.6 allows a simpler syntax to start the proxy! Step 1 is not needed then:

$ ssh root@target -R6666:localhost

3. configure the server software to use the forwarded proxy

Just configure yum, apt, curl, wget or any other tool that supports SOCKS to use the proxy

Voilá! Happy tunneling!

4. optional: install proxychains to make things easy

proxychains installed on the target server enables any software to use the forwarded SOCKS proxy (even telnet). It uses a LD_PRELOAD trick to redirect TCP and DNS requests from arbitrary commands into a proxy and is really handy.

Setup /etc/proxychains.conf to use the forwarded socks proxy:

# SSH reverse proxy
socks5 6666

Tunnel arbitrary tools (that use TCP) with proxychains:

$ proxychains telnet google.com 80
$ proxychains yum update
$ proxychains apt-get update

Newer versions of SSH allow to use the very simple option of ssh -R <[bind_address:]port>. Using only the port on the host and maybe the bind address, but not specifying the client side port will create a reverse SOCKS proxy.

This is also stated in the man pages of newer SSH versions:

[...] if no explicit destination was specified, ssh will act as a SOCKS 4/5 proxy and forward connections to the destinations requested by the remote SOCKS client.

You can test this with curl connecting to a simple "give me my IP"-API like http://ifconfig.io.

$ curl ifconfig.io


$ curl --socks5 localhost:<PORT> ifconfig.io

  • 2
    It would be useful to mention in which version number that feature was introduced.
    – kasperd
    Sep 21, 2018 at 10:33
  • 1
    much simpler, thanx!
    – Kaii
    Oct 2, 2018 at 20:48
  • 2
    @kasperd: OpenSSH 7.6, released on 2017-10-03. Check the 3rd bullet point under New Features
    – MestreLion
    Jun 19, 2019 at 10:16
  • More details medium.com/faun/… Mar 22, 2021 at 17:13

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