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Protect your infrastructure with SSH Jump Hosts

This post shows you how to use SSH jump hosts to access internal SSH servers. It also shows how to create limited accounts that can only be used for jumphost access

Rohan MolloyRohan Molloy

SSH includes a feature known as ProxyJump. ProxyJump allows an SSH connection to be used as a transparent proxy for a subsequent SSH connection. In other words, allowing you to "jump" through one server to reach another. These ProxyJumps can be chained together.

This sounds a bit confusing, but it's really just an extension of the SSH LocalForward option. To illustrate, suppose we have Host1 which shares an internal network with Host2. If we wanted to access Host2, we could do the following:

SSH ProxyJump simplifies this process, so that we can do the above in one line ssh host2user@host2 -J host1

Defining Jump Hosts in ~/.ssh/config


This feature is most powerful when ProxyJumps are defined in ~/.ssh/config because any SSH features (like port-forwarding or SCP) can be used through a jump host.

With this definition, every SSH connection to 'host2' will go through host1. Resolution of the hostname will be performed on host1. If custom options for host1 (such as a different port or user) are required, add an above entry in ~/.ssh/config

We can also add wildcard entries, like this

Chaining ProxyJump Entries

Host1 is reachable. Host2 is only reachable via Host1. Host3 is only reachable via Host2

Note: Hostname resolution is performed on the jump host. 'host2' must resolve correctly on host1, and host3 must resolve correctly on host2.
This problem can be solved by adding IP addresses as the hostnames in your local ~/.ssh/config.

Creating a locked down account for JumpHosts

Add the above to /etc/ssh/sshd_config to restrict the user sshjumpsa as a jump host service account. The PermitOpen statement is a whitelist of allowed upstream  destinations. The match is string/regex based, so adding a hostname does  not permit requests that use the corresponding IP.

To create the service account, use the following commands:

Locked Down Access in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys


It is also possible to define locked-down access for a particular public key in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

In the example below, the public key can open ssh connections to host2 and host3:22; access is only allowed from 203.0.113.0/24 (the  from= statement is optional)







 

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Rohan Molloy

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