Tunneling data over SSH is pretty straight-forward:

ssh -D9999 [email protected]

sets up port 9999 on your localhost as a tunnel to example.com, but I have a more specific need:

  • I am working locally on localhost
  • host1 is accessible to localhost
  • host2 only accepts connections from host1
  • I need to create a tunnel from localhost to host2

Effectively, I want to create a "multi-hop" SSH tunnel. How can I do this? Ideally, I'd like to do this without needing to be superuser on any of the machines.

  • 3
    What did you use it for? I want to use it for socks proxy. Will it work?
    – prongs
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 13:57
  • 2
    Yes, you should be able to use the tunneled connection as a SOCKS proxy, unless host2 denies forwarding
    – Mala
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 6:48
  • I was thinking about creating a wrapper over SSH that would set up that using multiple use of ProxyCommand. Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 20:52
  • @prongs Have you managed to use this for SOCKS proxy (all those years ago)?
    – Drux
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 7:32

18 Answers 18


You basically have three possibilities:

  1. Tunnel from localhost to host1:

    ssh -L 9999:host2:1234 -N host1

    As noted above, the connection from host1 to host2 will not be secured.

  2. Tunnel from localhost to host1 and from host1 to host2:

    ssh -L 9999:localhost:9999 host1 ssh -L 9999:localhost:1234 -N host2

    This will open a tunnel from localhost to host1 and another tunnel from host1 to host2. However the port 9999 to host2:1234 can be used by anyone on host1. This may or may not be a problem.

  3. Tunnel from localhost to host1 and from localhost to host2:

    ssh -L 9998:host2:22 -N host1
    ssh -L 9999:localhost:1234 -N -p 9998 localhost

    This will open a tunnel from localhost to host1 through which the SSH service on host2 can be used. Then a second tunnel is opened from localhost to host2 through the first tunnel.

Normally, I'd go with option 1. If the connection from host1 to host2 needs to be secured, go with option 2. Option 3 is mainly useful to access a service on host2 that is only reachable from host2 itself.

  • 1
    I want to do browsing this way. Which one's best? I tried first one but it didn't work. I set a socks proxy in my browser localhost:1234 but no luck. :( please help..
    – prongs
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 13:54
  • 2
    @prongs try option 3
    – Mala
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 6:49
  • 1
    is there a way to forward my public key from localhost, through the tunnel of host 1, on to host2?
    – Noli
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 8:00
  • 7
    @Noli If you use ssh-agent (which you should), you can forward it through the connections using the -A option to ssh. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 11:36
  • 2
    @musically_ut - that's correct, the 2nd ssh command is backgrounded on host1, so if you want to reconnect locally to it, you only need to rerun the first part again. If you add -f, it will immediately background locally, thus ssh -f -L 9999:localhost:9999 host1 will reconnect if you pressed ctrl-c in first case. Or add -f to the original double ssh command when first running it to background everything immediately. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 15:10

There is an excellent answer explaining the use of the ProxyCommand configuration directive for SSH:

Add this to your ~/.ssh/config (see man 5 ssh_config for details):

Host host2
  ProxyCommand ssh host1 -W %h:%p

Then ssh host2 will automatically tunnel through host1 (also works with X11 forwarding etc.).

This also works for an entire class of hosts e.g. identified by domain:

Host *.mycompany.com
  ProxyCommand ssh gateway.mycompany.com -W %h:%p


OpenSSH 7.3 introduces a ProxyJump directive, simplifying the first example to

Host host2
  ProxyJump host1
  • 3
    Is there a way to do this conditionally? I only want to do this sometimes. Also, this is specifically for commands, but I'm looking for something for all of port 22 (ssh, sftp, etc).
    – Stephane
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Stephane what do you mean by specifically for commands? Your SSH config is used by anything using ssh, including git, sftp etc. afaik.
    – kynan
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 20:58
  • 1
    @Stephane I'm not aware of a way of enabling this conditionally (e.g. only when you're outside the network of the target host). I set this option for all hosts in question in a configuration block and then (un)comment the line as needed. Not perfect, but it works.
    – kynan
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 20:58
  • 2
    @Stephane sure: ssh -F /path/to/altconfig. Beware this will ignore the system wide /etc/ssh/ssh_config.
    – kynan
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 11:39
  • 24
    An easy way to make settings "conditional" is to define two different hosts in .ssh/config, that have the same HostName. Connect to host2-tunnel when you want the tunnel, and host2 when you don't. Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 6:55

OpenSSH v7.3 onward supports a -J switch and a ProxyJump option, which allow one or more comma-separated jump hosts, so, you can simply do this now:

ssh -J jumpuser1@jumphost1,jumpuser2@jumphost2,...,jumpuserN@jumphostN user@host
  • ssh -J user1@host1 -YC4c arcfour,blowfish-cbc user2@host2 firefox -no-remote This will speed up getting firefox from host2 to localhost.
    – Jaur
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 16:28
  • I had no idea you could do it like this. Thanks for sharing! Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 23:35
  • 1
    I would add that you can specify ports: -J user1@host1:port1,user2@host2:port2,... Commented May 23, 2022 at 22:59

We have one ssh gateway into our private network. If I'm outside and want a remote shell on a machine inside the private network, I would have to ssh into the gateway and from there to the private machine.

To automate this procedure, I use the following script:

ssh -f -L some_port:private_machine:22 user@gateway "sleep 10" && ssh -p some_port private_user@localhost

What is happening:

  1. Establish a tunnel for the ssh protocol (port 22) to the private machine.
  2. Only if this is successful, ssh into the private machine using the tunnel. (the && operater ensures this).
  3. After closing the private ssh session, I want the ssh tunnel to close, too. This is done via the "sleep 10" trick. Usually, the first ssh command would close after 10 seconds, but during this time, the second ssh command will have established a connection using the tunnel. As a result, the first ssh command keeps the tunnel open until the following two conditions are satisfied: sleep 10 is finished and the tunnel is no longer used.
  • 1
    Very clever!!! LOVE IT! Commented May 6, 2012 at 6:37

After reading the above and glueing everything together, I've created the following Perl script (save it as mssh in /usr/bin and make it executable):


$iport = 13021;
$first = 1;

foreach (@ARGV) {
  if (/^-/) {
    $args .= " $_";
  elsif (/^((.+)@)?([^:]+):?(\d+)?$/) {
    $user = $1;
    $host = $3;
    $port = $4 || 22;
    if ($first) {
      $cmd = "ssh ${user}${host} -p $port -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no";
      $args = '';
      $first = 0;
    else {
      $cmd .= " -L $iport:$host:$port";
      push @cmds, "$cmd -f sleep 10 $args";
      $cmd = "ssh ${user}localhost -p $iport -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no";
      $args = '';
      $iport ++;
push @cmds, "$cmd $args";

foreach (@cmds) {
  print "$_\n";


To access HOSTC via HOSTA and HOSTB (same user):


To access HOSTC via HOSTA and HOSTB and use non-default SSH-portnumbers and different users:

mssh user1@HOSTA:1234 user2@HOSTB:1222 user3@HOSTC:78231

To access HOSTC via HOSTA and HOSTB and use X-forwarding:


To access port 8080 on HOSTC via HOSTA and HOSTB:

mssh HOSTA HOSTB -L8080:HOSTC:8080
  • 1
    this is awesome
    – Mala
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 1:20
  • 1
    I seriously cannot thank you enough, this script makes my life easier on a daily basis. The only thing I changed was to add int(rand(1000)) to iport, to allow multiple instances to run at the same time. I definitely owe you a beer.
    – Mala
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 7:20
  • This works really well. A further improvement would be to resolve HOSTB, HOSTC etc using localhost's /etc/hosts and ~/.ssh/config Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 7:03
  • Also I second Mala's comment. Without the randomized port, if you then try to mssh HOSTA HOSTD you'll actually end up at HOSTB (and maybe won't realise..) Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 2:39

I did what I think you wanted to do with

ssh -D 9999 -J host1 host2

I'm prompted for both passwords, then I can use localhost:9999 for a SOCKS proxy to host2. It's the nearest I can think of to the example you showed in the first place.

  • 1
    This worked perfectly! Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 11:03
  • Didn't work for three hosts
    – vdi
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 6:44

My answer is really the same as all the other answers here, but, I wanted to clarify the usefulness of ~/.ssh/config and ProxyJump.

To illustrate this, suppose I needed to get to a destination in 3 hops, and, for each hop, I needed to specify username, host, port, and identity. To get to the final computer I may have used multiple ssh commands and the identity files are stored on multiple computers:

[yourpc] $ ssh user1@host1 -p 22 -i ~/.ssh/pem/identity1.pem
[host1] $ ssh user2@host2 -p 22 -i ~/.ssh/pem/identity2.pem
[host2] $ ssh user3@host3 -p 22 -i ~/.ssh/pem/identity3.pem
[host3] $ exit
[host2] $ exit
[host1] $ exit
[yourpc] $

If I want to use a single ssh command to go from your PC to any of the hosts. I can use ~/.ssh/config config file which contains the details of each host and all identities needed to access each host on my host PC. The ProxyJump keyword is used to specify an intermediate host is needed to arrive at the target host.

Host hop1
    User user1
    HostName host1
    Port 22
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/pem/identity1.pem

Host hop2
    User user2
    HostName host2
    Port 22
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/pem/identity2.pem
    ProxyJump hop1

Host hop3
    User user3
    HostName host3
    Port 22
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/pem/identity3.pem
    ProxyJump hop2

From your computer, you can test each jump individually, i.e.

[yourpc] $ ssh hop1 # will go from your PC to host1 in a single step
[host1] $ exit
[yourpc] $ ssh hop2 # will go from your PC to host2 via host1 (i.e. two steps)
[host2] $ exit
[yourpc] $ ssh hop3 # will go from your PC to host3 via host1 and host2 (i.e. three steps)
[host3] $ exit
[yourpc] $ 

Another cool thing about the ~/.ssh/config file is that this will also enable sftp file transfers via any series of hops, e.g.

[yourpc] $ sftp hop1 # for file transfers between your PC and host1
Connected to hop1.
sftp> quit
[yourpc] $ sftp hop2 # for file transfers between your PC and host2
Connected to hop2.
sftp> quit
[yourpc] $ sftp hop3 # for file transfers between your PC and host3
Connected to hop3.
sftp> quit



This answer is similar to kynan, as it involves the use of ProxyCommand. But it's more convenient to use IMO.

If you have netcat installed in your hop machines you can add this snippet to your ~/.ssh/config:

Host *+*
    ProxyCommand ssh $(echo %h | sed 's/+[^+]*$//;s/\([^+%%]*\)%%\([^+]*\)$/\2 -l \1/;s/:/ -p /') nc $(echo %h | sed 's/^.*+//;/:/!s/$/ %p/;s/:/ /')


ssh -D9999 host1+host2 -l username

will do what you asked.

I came here looking for the original place where I read this trick. I'll post a link when I find it.

ssh -L 9999:host2:80 -R 9999:localhost:9999 host1

-L 9999:host2:80

Means bind to localhost:9999 and any packet sent to localhost:9999 forward it to host2:80

-R 9999:localhost:9999

Means any packet received by host1:9999 forward it back to localhost:9999

  • Brilliant, most simple answer to make a tunnel so you can access the application on host2 directly from localhost:9999
    – dvtoever
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:45
  • Following this answer, I get a channel 3: open failed: administratively prohibited: open failed error message. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 18:16

Only this helped me on more than two hosts:

ssh -L 6010:localhost:6010 user1@host1 \
-t ssh -L 6010:localhost:6010 user2@host2 \
-t ssh -L 6010:localhost:6010 user3@host3

It will prompt you with three passwords.

Inspired by this answer

  • ssh -L 33033:localhost:33032 user1@host1 -t ssh -L 33032:localhost:3306 user2@host2 Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 5:36

you should be able to use port forwarding to access a service on host2 from localhost. A good guide is located here. Excerpt:

There are two kinds of port forwarding: local and remote forwarding. They are also called outgoing and incoming tunnels, respectively. Local port forwarding forwards traffic coming to a local port to a specified remote port.

For example, if you issue the command

ssh2 -L 1234:localhost:23 username@host

all traffic coming to port 1234 on the client will be forwarded to port 23 on the server (host). Note that localhost will be resolved by the sshdserver after the connection is established. In this case localhost therefore refers to the server (host) itself.

Remote port forwarding does the opposite: it forwards traffic coming to a remote port to a specified local port.

For example, if you issue the command

ssh2 -R 1234:localhost:23 username@host

all traffic which comes to port 1234 on the server (host) will be forwarded to port 23 on the client (localhost).

In your cast, replace localhost in the example with host2 and host with host1.

  • according to that article, the connection will only be secured until the middle machine (host1). Is there a way to make sure the whole thing stays secure?
    – Mala
    Commented Jan 16, 2010 at 7:21
  • I've never tried this, but if host1 and host2 are both ssh servers, you might be able to set up a tunnel from host1 to host2, then set up a tunnel from localhost to host1 for the same service (getting your local and remote ports right). I don't know if that's possible in one command from localhost.
    – fideli
    Commented Jan 16, 2010 at 16:13

In this answer I will go through a concrete example. You just need to replace computers' hostnames, usernames and passwords by yours.

Problem statement

Let's assume we have the following network topology:

our local computer <---> server 1 <---> server 2

For the sake of concreteness, let's assume we have the following computers' hostnames, usernames and passwords:

LocalPC            <--->  hostname: mit.edu         <---> hec.edu
                          username: bob                   username: john 
                          password: dylan123              password: doe456

Goal: we want to set up a SOCKS proxy that listens on port 9991 of LocalPC so that each time a connection on LocalPC is initiated from port 9991 it goes through mit.edu then hec.edu.

Example of use case: hec.edu has an HTTP server that is only accessible on, for security reasons. We would like to be able to visit by opening a web browser on LocalPC.


In LocalPC, add in ~/.ssh/config:

Host HEC
    HostName hec.edu
    User john
    ProxyCommand ssh [email protected] -W %h:%p

Then in the terminal of LocalPC, run:

ssh -D9991 HEC

It will ask you the password of bob on mit.edu (i.e., dylan123), then it will ask you the password of john on hec.edu (i.e., doe456).

At that point, the SOCKS proxy is now running on port 9991 of LocalPC.

For example, if you want to visit a webpage on LocalPC using the SOCKS proxy, you can do in Firefox:

enter image description here

Some remarks:

  • in ~/.ssh/config, HEC is the connection name: you may change it to anything you want.
  • The -D9991 tells ssh to set up a SOCKS4 proxy on port 9991.
  • ssh -D9991 HEC simply sshs into hec.edu here
    – olejorgenb
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 19:57

The best solution is Jump Proxy:

ssh -N -A -J user1@host1 -D 8123 user2@host2

then you can use SOCKS in local via

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 8:50

If you can SSH into both machines, take a look at ssh's ProxyCommand directive. This will let you go straight from localhost into host2 (in one easy command if you use public keys!!). Then you can do whatever you want with host2.



The option 2 of the best answer could be used with different ssh users than the current one aka : user@host

    export local_host_port=30000
    export host1_user=xyz
    export host1=mac-host
    export host1_port=30000
    export host2=
    export host2_user=ysg
    export host2_port=13306

    # Tunnel from localhost to host1 and from host1 to host2
    # you could chain those as well to host3 ... hostn
    ssh -tt -L $local_host_port:localhost:$host1_port $host1_user@$host1 \
    ssh -tt -L $host1_port:localhost:$host2_port $host2_user@$host2

In my case I did

localhost$ ssh -D 9999 host1
host1$ ssh -L 8890:localhost:8890 host2

where host2:8890 is running on a Jupyter Notebook.

Then I configured Firefox to use localhost:9999 as a SOCKS host.

So now I've got the notebook running on host2 accessible by Firefox at localhost:8890 on my machine.


The three options mentioned in the accepted answer didn't work for me at all. Since I don't have much permission over both hosts, and seem like our DevOps team has a pretty strict rules when comes to authentication and are doing MFA. Somehow the commands above cannot play well with our authentication.

The context is really similar to answers above though: I cannot ssh into production server directly, and have to do 1 hop using a jump server.

Yet Another Solution - a naive one

I ended up doing it by a very naive way: instead of trying to run all the commands on my laptop, I run the commands on each of the machine, as below:

  1. SSH into your jump server, then run ssh -v -L 6969:localhost:2222 -N your-protected.dest.server. If you're prompted with any password input, type it.
  2. Now on your laptop, run ssh -v -L 6969:localhost:6969 -N your-jump-server.host.name. This will forward any of your request on port 6969 on your laptop, to the jump server. Then by turn, since we configured in our previous step, the jump server will again forward requests of port 6969 to port 2222 on the protected destination server.

You should see the command "hangs" there after printing some message - it means they're working! One exception - you should not see error message like Could not request local forwarding., if you see that, then it's still not working :(. You can now try to fire request on port 6969 from your laptop, and see if it's working.

Hopefully if you are someone who failed all the methods above, perhaps you can try this.


Add the following to your ~/.ssh/config.

Host jump_host
  HostName example.com
  User <jump_host_user>
  IdentityFile <local/path/to/jump_id>

Host destination_host
  HostName <ip or url>
  User <destination_host_user>
  IdentityFile <local/path/to/id>
  ProxyJump jump_host

This will make the destination act as if you had direct access so that you can call

ssh -D9999 destination_host

Using these of course requires, that you add your id_rsa.pub into the authorized_keys file on the respective serves.

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