Simple NodeJS Web Proxy

I was on a project recently where we were performing a network penetration test against an internal network, remotely. To facilitate this, we shipped a server to the client so they could install it into their datacenter. We then log in to this host, and perform our testing from it, rather than sending consultants onsite. This is super efficient, and cost-effective. The host we send out in these cases is referred to as a ‘jump box’ — because it offers a jumping-off point into the network.

For whatever reason, this time the jump box did not have the full set of tools installed. In many cases, this wouldn’t be a terrible problem, we’d just install the tools we need and move on. However, in this case, the client was performing egress filtering — meaning we had no way to get out to the internet from our jump box. This led to a dilemma: how can I access the remote services (like web sites) easily? Usually I’d set up tinyproxy or something similar, and set up a tunnel over SSH to access it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have tinyproxy or any other web proxy servers installed, and had no easy way to get one.

However, I did have nodejs installed on the box: which is quite useful for this type of thing! I did a quick search for nodejs proxies, and found a suitable base code over here. (Remember, I can’t get out to the internet from the jump box, so I need to limit my proxy code to only core nodejs modules, I can’t ‘npm install’ anything.)

That post is quite old (6 years!) and some things have changed since it was written. For one thing, the http.createServer() method has been replaced by http.request(). The sample code there also contained some things I didn’t need, like a blacklist of sites to prevent access to, but it had some things I definitely did want (like a whitelist of IPs that are allowed to talk to the proxy. That’s an important factor when doing this sort of test, if you are going to open up services on a client network, you need to take steps to minimize security risks they may cause. Restricting access to this proxy to only the localhost of the jump box helps me do that.)

You can check out the final results at my pentools github repo.

Once I had the code in place, I simply opened up an SSH tunnel to the jump box, and set up port 8080 on my laptop to tunnel to port 8080 on the jump box, like this:

ssh -L 8080:localhost:8080 user@jumpbox

Once I was logged in, I configured Firefox on my laptop to use localhost port 8080 for a web proxy, and I could now point my browser to the client’s internal network addresses and browse their websites from my browser, through the jump box proxy.


A little snippet of code I’m playing with. This started as me learning more about XST, to understand why TRACE being enabled was considered a BadThing(tm). [see: this white paper (.pdf format) for more on that].

In my opinion, the best way to learn is to do, so I quickly whipped up the following so I could play, and handily, this finally gives me a good reason to write my first bit of AJAX even =)

A couple of points:

    • If you change the method from GET to HEAD, this makes a handy banner grabber


    • If you change the method to TRACE, it may or may not work, depending on the browser you are using.

To explain the latter item:

The current versions of both Firefox and IE refuse to run TRACE via XMLHttpRequest.
This is the correct behaviour, per the spec, and is certainly more secure (it goes a fair way to mitigate XST in general in fact). I have not tried older versions or other browsers to see how they handle it.

Note that I snarfed bits and pieces of this code from various places on the net, and didn’t create all of this from scratch. However, I have tweaked and changed things enough to feel OK calling this “my code”.

I’ll probably tweak this further. I’m considering just making different buttons for the different types of requests and letting the function figure out what method to use based on that, for example.

Anyway, here’s the code as it stands after about 20 minutes of crash course in AJAX:

if anyone knows how to post HTML/Javascript to blogspot, I’d be grateful for the tip, it keeps trying to render regardless of my use of pre or code. I even tried to settle for textarea, but it borked the formatting of the code unfortunately and added br tags all over the place. *sigh*. ]

Here’s a pastebin of the code instead

[EDIT 2010-03-02:
Oh for … Apparently IE8 renders the pastebin code as HTML instead of displaying it as text/plain. *cry*.