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I have a machine behind a firewall that I would like to be accessible from the web. I have a VPS at example.com, and I would like traffic sent to device.example.com to reach my device behind the firewall.

I've managed to get the firewalled device accessible through example.com:2210 with the use of a reverse SSH tunnel. On the firewalled device, I ran ssh -R 2210:localhost:22 root@example.com.

Now, I would like HTTP traffic sent to device.example.com to be redirected to my firewalled device. I looked at using a SOCKS proxy, but nginx on example.com seems to be too high of a network layer for a SOCKS proxy. How can I redirect all HTTP traffic (or even all network traffic) to my firewalled device?

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Because you need to look at the Host header in HTTP requests (unless you have multiple IP addresses, so subdomain.example.com can have a dedicated address), you need something that deals with HTTP. So nginx is definitely a good choice. You need to set it up as a so-called “reverse proxy”.

When the reverse proxy receives a request, it will be forwarded (internally) to the specified “upstream” service. The service’s response will then be returned to the client. The client doesn’t know anything about this.

Setting up a reverse proxy is super easy on both Apache and nginx.

  • What if I wanted to receive more than HTTP traffic? e.g. run an arbitrary service on port xxxx and be able to access it through device.example.com:xxxx – Ari Lotter Oct 6 '16 at 17:17
  • Few protocols have a concept of host names. So your service will also be available at example.com, because you’re probably using wildcard subdomains that all point to a single IP address. You could just open up your SSH reverse tunnel publicly. // Keep in mind though that the original remote address is lost this way. A more complicated setup with a VPN tunnel and port forwarding is probably better, but requires good network knowledge. – Daniel B Oct 6 '16 at 17:21

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