sslh – A ssl/ssh multiplexer
sslh accepts connections on specified ports, and forwards them further based on tests performed on the first data packet sent by the remote client.
Probes for HTTP, TLS/SSL (including SNI and ALPN), SSH, OpenVPN, tinc, XMPP are implemented, and any other protocol that can be tested using a regular expression, can be recognised. A typical use case is to allow serving several services on port 443 (e.g. to connect to SSH from inside a corporate firewall, which almost never block port 443) while still serving HTTPS on that port.
sslh acts as a protocol demultiplexer, or a switchboard. With the SNI and ALPN probe, it makes a good front-end to a virtual host farm hosted behind a single IP address.
sslh has the bells and whistles expected from a mature daemon: privilege and capabilities dropping, inetd support, systemd support, transparent proxying, chroot, logging, IPv4 and IPv6, a fork-based and a select-based model, and more.
Compile and install
For Debian, these are contained in packages
For OpenSUSE, these are contained in packages libconfig9 and libconfig-dev in repository http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/multimedia:/libs/openSUSE_12.1/
For Fedora, you’ll need packages
yum install libconfig libconfig-devel
If you can’t find
libconfig, or just don’t want a
configuration file, set
USELIBCONFIG= in the Makefile.
After this, the Makefile should work:
There are a couple of configuration options at the beginning of the Makefile:
USELIBWRAPcompiles support for host access control (see
hosts_access(3)), you will need
libwrapheaders and library to compile (
USELIBCONFIGcompiles support for the configuration file. You will need
libconfigheaders to compile (
USESYSTEMDcompiles support for using systemd socket activation. You will need
systemdheaders to compile (
The Makefile produces two different executables:
sslh-forkforks a new process for each incoming connection. It is well-tested and very reliable, but incurs the overhead of many processes.
If you are going to use
sslhfor a “small” setup (less than a dozen ssh connections and a low-traffic https server) then
sslh-forkis probably more suited for you.
sslh-selectuses only one thread, which monitors all connections at once. It is more recent and less tested, but only incurs a 16 byte overhead per connection. Also, if it stops, you’ll lose all connections, which means you can’t upgrade it remotely.
If you are going to use
sslhon a “medium” setup (a few thousand ssh connections, and another few thousand ssl connections),
sslh-selectwill be better.
If you have a very large site (tens of thousands of connections), you’ll need a vapourware version that would use libevent or something like that.
make cp sslh-fork /usr/local/sbin/sslh cp basic.cfg /etc/sslh.cfg vi /etc/sslh.cfg
cp scripts/etc.init.d.sslh /etc/init.d/sslh
cp scripts/etc.rc.d.init.d.sslh.centos /etc/rc.d/init.d/sslh
You might need to create links in /etc/rc
update-rc.d sslh defaults
If you use the scripts provided, sslh will get its configuration from /etc/sslh.cfg. Please refer to example.cfg for an overview of all the settings.
A good scheme is to use the external name of the machine in
listen, and bind
localhost:443 (instead of all
binding to all interfaces): that way, HTTPS connections
coming from inside your network don’t need to go through
sslh is only there as a frontal for connections
coming from the internet.
Note that ‘external name’ in this context refers to the
actual IP address of the machine as seen from your network,
i.e. that that is not
127.0.0.1 in the output of
Sslh can optionnaly perform
libwrap checks for the sshd
service: because the connection to
sshd will be coming
sshd cannot determine the IP of the
OpenVPN clients connecting to OpenVPN running with
-port-share reportedly take more than one second between
the time the TCP connexion is established and the time they
send the first data packet. This results in
default settings timing out and assuming an SSH connexion.
To support OpenVPN connexions reliably, it is necessary to
sslh’s timeout to 5 seconds.
Instead of using OpenVPN’s port sharing, it is more reliable
--openvpn option to get
sslh to do the
Using proxytunnel with sslh
If you are connecting through a proxy that checks that the
outgoing connection really is SSL and rejects SSH, you can
encapsulate all your traffic in SSL using
should work with
corkscrew as well). On the server side you
receive the traffic with
stunnel to decapsulate SSL, then
sslh to switch HTTP on one side and SSL on the
In that case, you end up with something like this:
ssh -> proxytunnel -e ----[ssh/ssl]---> stunnel ---[ssh]---> sslh --> sshd Web browser -------------[http/ssl]---> stunnel ---[http]--> sslh --> httpd
Configuration goes like this on the server side, using
stunnel -f -p mycert.pem -d thelonious:443 -l /usr/local/sbin/sslh -- \ sslh -i --http localhost:80 --ssh localhost:22
- stunnel options:
-pfor specifying the key and certificate
-dfor specifying which interface and port we’re listening to for incoming connexions
sslhin inetd mode.
- sslh options:
-ifor inetd mode
--httpto forward HTTP connexions to port 80, and SSH connexions to port 22.
On Linux (only?), you can compile sslh with
make use of POSIX capabilities; this will save the required
capabilities needed for transparent proxying for unprivileged
Alternatively, you may use filesystem capabilities instead
of starting sslh as root and asking it to drop privileges.
You will need
CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE for listening on port 443
CAP_NET_ADMIN for transparent proxying (see
You can use the
setcap(8) utility to give these capabilities
to the executable:
# setcap cap_net_bind_service,cap_net_admin+pe sslh-select
Then you can run sslh-select as an unpriviledged user, e.g.:
$ sslh-select -p myname:443 --ssh localhost:22 --ssl localhost:443
CAP_NET_ADMIN does give sslh too many rights, e.g.
configuring the interface. If you’re not going to use
transparent proxying, just don’t use it (or use the libcap method).
Transparent proxy support
On Linux and FreeBSD you can use the
--transparent option to
request transparent proxying. This means services behind
sshd and so on) will see the external IP and ports
as if the external world connected directly to them. This
simplifies IP-based access control (or makes it possible at
sslh needs extended rights to perform this: you’ll need to
CAP_NET_ADMIN capabilities (see appropriate chapter)
or run it as root (but don’t do that).
The firewalling tables also need to be adjusted as follow.
The example connects to HTTPS on 4443 – adapt to your needs ;
I don’t think it is possible to have
httpd listen to 443 in
this scheme – let me know if you manage that:
# iptables -t mangle -N SSLH # iptables -t mangle -A OUTPUT --protocol tcp --out-interface eth0 --sport 22 --jump SSLH # iptables -t mangle -A OUTPUT --protocol tcp --out-interface eth0 --sport 4443 --jump SSLH # iptables -t mangle -A SSLH --jump MARK --set-mark 0x1 # iptables -t mangle -A SSLH --jump ACCEPT # ip rule add fwmark 0x1 lookup 100 # ip route add local 0.0.0.0/0 dev lo table 100
Tranparent proxying with IPv6 is similarly set up as follows:
# ip6tables -t mangle -N SSLH # ip6tables -t mangle -A OUTPUT --protocol tcp --out-interface eth0 --sport 22 --jump SSLH # ip6tables -t mangle -A OUTPUT --protocol tcp --out-interface eth0 --sport 4443 --jump SSLH # ip6tables -t mangle -A SSLH --jump MARK --set-mark 0x1 # ip6tables -t mangle -A SSLH --jump ACCEPT # ip -6 rule add fwmark 0x1 lookup 100 # ip -6 route add local ::/0 dev lo table 100
Note that these rules will prevent from connecting directly to ssh on the port 22, as packets coming out of sshd will be tagged. If you need to retain direct access to ssh on port 22 as well as through sslh, you can make sshd listen to 22 AND another port (e.g. 2222), and change the above rules accordingly.
Given you have no firewall defined yet, you can use the following configuration to have ipfw properly redirect traffic back to sslh
/etc/rc.conf firewall_enable="YES" firewall_type="open" firewall_logif="YES" firewall_coscripts="/etc/ipfw/sslh.rules"
#! /bin/sh # ssl ipfw add 20000 fwd 192.0.2.1,443 log tcp from 192.0.2.1 8443 to any out ipfw add 20010 fwd 2001:db8::1,443 log tcp from 2001:db8::1 8443 to any out # ssh ipfw add 20100 fwd 192.0.2.1,443 log tcp from 192.0.2.1 8022 to any out ipfw add 20110 fwd 2001:db8::1,443 log tcp from 2001:db8::1 8022 to any out # xmpp ipfw add 20200 fwd 192.0.2.1,443 log tcp from 192.0.2.1 5222 to any out ipfw add 20210 fwd 2001:db8::1,443 log tcp from 2001:db8::1 5222 to any out # openvpn (running on other internal system) ipfw add 20300 fwd 192.0.2.1,443 log tcp from 198.51.100.7 1194 to any out ipfw add 20310 fwd 2001:db8::1,443 log tcp from 2001:db8:1::7 1194 to any out
This will only work if
sslh does not use any loopback
localhost), you’ll need to use
explicit IP addresses (or names):
sslh --listen 192.168.0.1:443 --ssh 192.168.0.1:22 --ssl 192.168.0.1:4443
This will not work:
sslh --listen 192.168.0.1:443 --ssh 127.0.0.1:22 --ssl 127.0.0.1:4443
Transparent proxying means the target server sees the real
origin address, so it means if the client connects using
IPv6, the server must also support IPv6. It is easy to
support both IPv4 and IPv6 by configuring the server
accordingly, and setting
sslh to connect to a name that
resolves to both IPv4 and IPv6, e.g.:
sslh --transparent --listen <extaddr>:443 --ssh insideaddr:22 /etc/hosts: 192.168.0.1 insideaddr 201::::2 insideaddr
Upon incoming IPv6 connection,
sslh will first try to
connect to the IPv4 address (which will fail), then connect
to the IPv6 address.
Systemd Socket Activation
If compiled with
USESYSTEMD then it is possible to activate
the service on demand and avoid running any code as root.
In this mode any listen configuration options are ignored and the sockets are passed by systemd to the service.
Example socket unit:
[Unit] Before=sslh.service [Socket] ListenStream=188.8.131.52:443 ListenStream=184.108.40.206:444 ListenStream=220.127.116.11:445 FreeBind=true [Install] WantedBy=sockets.target
Example service unit:
[Unit] PartOf=sslh.socket [Service] ExecStart=/usr/sbin/sslh -v -f --ssh 127.0.0.1:22 --ssl 127.0.0.1:443 KillMode=process CapabilityBoundingSet=CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE CAP_NET_ADMIN CAP_SETGID CAP_SETUID PrivateTmp=true PrivateDevices=true ProtectSystem=full ProtectHome=true User=sslh
With this setup only the socket needs to be enabled. The sslh service will be started on demand and does not need to run as root to bind the sockets as systemd has already bound and passed them over. If the sslh service is started on its own without the sockets being passed by systemd then it will look to use those defined on the command line or config file as usual. Any number of ListenStreams can be defined in the socket file and systemd will pass them all over to sslh to use as usual.
To avoid inconsistency between starting via socket and starting directly via the service Requires=sslh.socket can be added to the service unit to mandate the use of the socket configuration.
Rather than overwriting the entire socket file drop in values can be placed
In addition to the above with manual .socket file configuration there is an optional systemd generator which can be compiled - systemd-sslh-generator
This parses the /etc/sslh.cfg (or /etc/sslh/sslh.cfg file if that exists instead) configuration file and dynamically generates a socket file to use.
This will also merge with any sslh.socket.d drop in configuration but will be overriden by a /etc/systemd/system/sslh.socket file.
To use the generator place it in /usr/lib/systemd/system-generators and then call systemctl daemon-reload after any changes to /etc/sslh.cfg to generate the new dynamic socket unit.
If using transparent proxying, just use the standard ssh
rules. If you can’t or don’t want to use transparent
proxying, you can set
fail2ban rules to block repeated ssh
connections from a same IP address (obviously this depends
on the site, there might be legimite reasons you would get
many connections to ssh from the same IP address…)
See example files in scripts/fail2ban.
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sslh mailing list here:
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