# Reverse proxy to Tor

# Advantages

  • no port forwarding needed on the LAN of the host
  • encrypted connection
  • hides the IP of the host

# Requirements

  • a Virtual Private Server (VPS) - eg. a minimal package on Lunanode for ~3.5$/month
  • root access on the VPS - you need to set up webserver and install packages

Get the Tor .onion address of your BTCPay Server via the Server settings > Services page. See information in the "HTTP-based TOR hidden services" section.

# VPS Setup

You will create a nginx reverse proxy and a socat service, which forwards requests to your BTCPay Server.

Login as root and install the required dependencies: (example assumes a Debian based system)

# switch to root user (if not logged in as root)
sudo su -

# install dependencies
apt update
apt install -y certbot nginx socat tor

# Socat setup

Create the service file /etc/systemd/system/http-to-socks-proxy@.service:

Description=HTTP-to-SOCKS proxy

ExecStart=/usr/bin/socat tcp4-LISTEN:${LOCAL_PORT},reuseaddr,fork,keepalive,bind= SOCKS4A:${PROXY_HOST}:${REMOTE_HOST}:${REMOTE_PORT},socksport=${PROXY_PORT}


Create the configuration for the service in /etc/http-to-socks-proxy/btcpayserver.conf:

# create the directory
mkdir -p /etc/http-to-socks-proxy/

# create the file with the content below
nano /etc/systemd/system/http-to-socks-proxy@.service

Replace the REMOTE_HOST and adapt the ports if needed:


Create a symlink in /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants to enable the service and start it:

# enable
ln -s /etc/systemd/system/http-to-socks-proxy\@.service /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/http-to-socks-proxy\@btcpayserver.service

# start
systemctl start http-to-socks-proxy@btcpayserver

# check service status
systemctl status http-to-socks-proxy@btcpayserver

# check if tunnel is active
netstat -tulpn | grep socat
# should give something like this:
# tcp        0      0*               LISTEN      951/socat

# Webserver setup

# Prepare SSL and Let's Encrypt

# generate 4096 bit DH params to strengthen the security, may take a while
openssl dhparam -out /etc/ssl/certs/dhparam.pem 4096

# create directory for Let's Encrypt files
mkdir -p /var/lib/letsencrypt/.well-known
chgrp www-data /var/lib/letsencrypt
chmod g+s /var/lib/letsencrypt

# nginx configuration: http

Create a variable mapping to forward the correct protocol setting, e.g. /etc/nginx/conf.d/map.conf:

map $http_x_forwarded_proto $proxy_x_forwarded_proto {
  default $http_x_forwarded_proto;
  ''      $scheme;

Create a config file for the domain, e.g. /etc/nginx/sites-available/btcpayserver.conf:

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name mydomain.com;

  # Let's Encrypt verification requests
  location ^~ /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
    allow all;
    root /var/lib/letsencrypt/;
    default_type "text/plain";
    try_files $uri =404;

  # Redirect everything else to https
  location / {
    return 301 https://$server_name$request_uri;

We will configure the https server part in the same config file once we obtained the SSL certificate.

Enable the web server config by creating a symlink and restarting nginx:

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/btcpayserver.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/btcpayserver.conf

systemctl restart nginx

# Obtain SSL certificate via Let's Encrypt

Run the following command with adapted email and domain parameters:

certbot certonly --agree-tos --email admin@mydomain.com --webroot -w /var/lib/letsencrypt/ -d mydomain.com

# nginx configuration: https

Now that we have a valid SSL certificate, add the https server part at the end of /etc/nginx/sites-available/btcpayserver.conf:

server {
  listen 443 ssl http2;
  server_name mydomain.com;

  # SSL settings
  ssl on;
  ssl_stapling on;
  ssl_stapling_verify on;

  ssl_session_timeout 1d;
  ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:10m;
  ssl_session_tickets off;

  # Update this with the path of your certificate files
  ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/mydomain.com/fullchain.pem;
  ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/mydomain.com/privkey.pem;

  ssl_dhparam /etc/ssl/certs/dhparam.pem;
  ssl_protocols TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3;
  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers off;

  resolver valid=300s;
  resolver_timeout 30s;

  add_header Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=63072000" always;
  add_header X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN;
  add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

  # Proxy requests to the socat service
  location / {
    proxy_set_header Host $host;
    proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $proxy_x_forwarded_proto;
    proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
    proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";

Restart nginx once more:

systemctl restart nginx

Now, visiting mydomain.com should show your BTCPay Server instance.

# Resources