SOCKS proxy is a Layer 5 proxy that allows secure routing or tunneling of any program or protocol. You can create a SOCKS proxy from your local and a remote host and then configure your applications to route their traffic through the proxy.

You could use it to securely access the internet in a public network, such as in a public WiFi environment, as the traffic between your host and the proxy server is encrypted. It could also be used to access hosts behind a private network under a NAT or firewall just as a VPN would.

You need SSH access to a remote server and create a SOCKS proxy using SSH client from Linux or any other Unix-based operating system to the server at the terminal.

Steps to create SOCKS proxy using SSH:

  1. Launch a terminal application.
  2. Test your SSH connection to the remote host (optional).

    $ ssh [email protected] hostname remote-host

  3. Connect to the remote host using bind_address option to create an SSH SOCKS proxy from your local machine to the remote SSH server.

    $ ssh -D8080 [email protected] The authenticity of host 'remote-host (10.1.1.100)' can't be established. ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:wGCE8M54I94AgSatEcB9Y26CxmDjb9YtlL0HMpSiIRA. Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes ##### snipped 
    -D [bind_address:]port         Specifies a local “dynamic” application-level port          forwarding.  This works by allocating a socket to          listen to port on the local side, optionally bound          to the specified bind_address.  Whenever a connection          is made to this port, the connection is forwarded          over the secure channel, and the application protocol          is then used to determine where to connect to from          the remote machine.  Currently the SOCKS4 and SOCKS5          protocols are supported, and ssh will act as a SOCKS          server. Only root can forward privileged ports.           Dynamic port forwardings can also be specified in          the configuration file.

    8080 in the example is the port that your SOCKS proxy will listen to. You can choose any number from 1025 to 65535 if you're running the command as a normal user, as long as the port number is not currently in use.

    Common options to run SOCKS proxy in the background::

     ssh -D8080 -fCqN  [email protected]
    • -f: Requests ssh to go to background just before command execution
    • -C: Requests compression of all data
    • -q: Quiet mode. Causes most warning and diagnostic messages to be suppressed
    • -N: Do not execute a remote command
  4. Check if the tunnel is running in your local host.

    $ ss -natp | grep 8080 LISTEN  0        128               127.0.0.1:8080               0.0.0.0:*        users:(("ssh",pid=1640,fd=6)) LISTEN  0        128                   [::1]:8080                  [::]:*        users:(("ssh",pid=1640,fd=5))

  5. Connect program to your SOCKS proxy to test if the tunnel is successful.

    $ curl ifconfig.me # Direct connection 95.136.221.23 $ curl -x socks5h://127.0.0.1:8080 ifconfig.me # Via socks proxy tunnel 84.139.115.17

  6. Configure your browser or any other applications to connect through your newly created SOCKS tunnel.

Guide compatibility:

Operating System
Ubuntu Linux
Debian Linux
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Fedora Linux
CentOS Linux
openSUSE Linux
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
FreeBSD
OpenBSD
NetBSD
macOS