Raven - Blog
June 16, 2022

SOCKS proxy via SSH

Posted on June 16, 2022  •  5 minutes  • 858 words  • Other languages:  Français
IMPORTANT: Never use a free public proxy. You will compromise your data and the risk is always much higher than the potential benefit.

In this article, I will introduce you to the concept of proxy and its uses. Then I will show you a simple method to set up a SOCKS proxy through an SSH tunnel. This article is not intended to anonymize an internet connection. The goal here is to access another network to bypass the limits of a firewall or to access services, web interfaces… available on this other network.

What is a proxy ?

Proxy means agent, so it’s a server (in other words another machine) to which you will send data and to which you give “mandate” to route these data.

This means that you must have absolute confidence in the proxy server you use.

If you use a corporate or school filtering proxy for example, all your browsing data can be read, be aware of that. If you want to use an “anonymizing” public/open proxy (never do that…) it’s the same thing.

The utility of a proxy

There are many uses for a proxy but I will stop at 4 uses that I consider to be the main ones:

SOCKS proxy via SSH server

Having said that, let’s get a little technical and get back to what we’re interested in today: implementing a SOCKS proxy through an SSH tunnel!

Just as creating an SSH tunnel is done with the simple -L option in SSH, starting an SSH SOCKS proxy just requires the -D option. The latter enables the dynamic forwarding feature of SSH which supports the SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 protocols.

With this -D option and a browser setting (see below), your SSH connection will be a true SOCKS proxy! It will allow your web browser to dialog through an encrypted SSH tunnel to the remote SSH server’s network card as if it were its own.

This means that all web resources accessible to the remote server will now be accessible to your browser. As if you were present on the network. And your identity for the visited sites will be the one of the remote server too (do the test by visiting monip.io after configuration!)

Come on, you can’t stand it anymore and the CTRL+C is itching you, so here is a simple example of a command to copy and run :

ssh user@REMOTE_HOST -D 8080

Then, in your browser, go to the network settings in order to activate the SOCKS server by filling in the port selected. Example here for Mozilla Firefox:

Firefox Proxy SOCKS Configuration

That’s it ! Now access any WEB interface present on the LAN of the remote server via your browser.


You all remember the good old OSI model, right ? As a reminder, here it is:

OSI model

A proxy is applicative, so it acts at the layer 7 application level. VPN protocols, for example, generally act much lower, on Layer 3 Network (or even Layer 2). So there is no point in looking for a proxy with network commands such as `traceroute’, you won’t see it.

So to configure a proxy or check that there is one in place on the machine you are using, it is done :

Go further …

I strongly recommend that you complete this reading by watching the video of the excellent Yves Rougy and that I discovered while writing my article. You will find it here ! (French content)

He also shows you how to set up a SOCKS proxy but he mostly talks about SSH tunneling if you are interested and he even explains perfectly the `-R’ option, not easy to understand. In short, go for it!

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