Nginx reverse proxy with SSL offloading and authentication

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What’s it

Recently we’ve started down the ElasticSearch/Kibana road and also had a handful of other node.js apps. Setting up access control for these was becoming a pain - especially with ES which doesn’t come with any authentication/security out of the box. General advice on the interwebs is to let upstream server handle authentication and SSL + basic auth is good enough.

Install nginx

  1. sudo apt-get install nginx apache2-utils Apache2 utils is for generating the htpasswd file for use later.

Configuring nginx

There’s a few things to handle:

  1. we want SSL offloading to happen

  2. Each application is going to be set up as it’s own virtual host - so think,

  3. All apps will be served on SSL. HTTP requests will be forwarded to HTTPS automatically.

Password db

You can create the password db with

htpasswd -c /etc/nginx/passworddb <username>

You’ll be asked to confirm a password for the user and you’re all set.

Reverse proxy server variables

See the last one setting a few other server variables - X-Forwarded-For, X-Forwarded-Host, X-Forwarded-Proto? You’ll need this if the app you’re serving is written to be reverse proxy aware - in that case, it would use these headers to generate any links in the html it generates (so that it doesn’t return a document with http://internalhost:port/path - and instead returns http://reverseproxyhost/path). If the app you’re proxying doesn’t do this, then you’re in the realm of output content rewriting (basically regex the output content and replace link - ughhh!)