TIL: SSH Jump Host

The jump host is an option of the SSH client, that allows to use a third SSH server as "proxy" to access the final intended SSH server

This post is part of the TIL (Today I Learned) series; they are small posts in which I write something that I learned recently, and found interesting enough to be shared in this format.

Last week I needed to access a remote server to do some maintenance but I couldn’t connect via SSH. The problem was that I had configured the SSH server to listen to a custom port and the network I was connected to had a very strict firewall configuration that blocked outbound SSH on ports different than 22.

How could I bypass the firewall? Yes, I could SSH on another host on port 22 and then access my final destination from here.

But I didn’t want to mess with SSH keys.

Then I discovered that this use case is actually considered by SSH: there is a simple option that allows to specify jump hosts, namely hosts that are in-between you and your final destination.

By specifying a jump host we realize a proxy behavior.


Let’s see the man pages:

-J destination
	Connect to the target host by first making a ssh connection to the jump host
	described by destination and then establishing a TCP forwarding to the
	ultimate destination from there.  Multiple jump hops may be
	specified separated by comma characters.  This is a shortcut to specify a
	ProxyJump configuration directive.  Note that configuration directives
	supplied on the command-line generally apply to the destination
	host and not any specified jump hosts.  Use ~/.ssh/config to specify
	configuration for jump hosts.

We can use jump hosts in this way:

ssh -J jump final

Where jump is the jump host and final is the final SSH server.

For example:

ssh -J user@myserveron22 user@myserveroncustomport

Since the only thing that the firewall sees is that I’m SSH-ing on port 22, it is allowed.

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