October 22, 2017

Redirect from HTTP to HTTPS and viceversa with Apache ProxyPass

In this post I configure a url redirection from HTTP to HTTPS and viceversa using the Apache mod_proxy and the ProxyPass directive. I assume an environment consisting of two hosts: a Web Server Apache in front of a  Tomcat Applicaton Server. In the following first example the Apache ProxyPass redirects the HTTP requests to the SSL port 8443 of the Tomcat Server. In the second example the Apache Web Server is configured to accept SSL connections, so a self-signed certificate is locally installed and the requests are redirected from HTTPS to the non-ssl url of Tomcat Server.

Example 1. From Apache HTTP to Tomcat HTTPS



Example 2. From Apache HTTPS to Tomcat HTTP



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  1. deepak

    This solved problem which i was struggling for some time now.
    I have one question in case of Example 1. From Apache HTTP to Tomcat HTTPS

    if you have do a mutual authentication between apache and tomcat where do you configure the certificates . will this configuration take care of it

    NameVirtualHost *:80

    ServerName mysite.com
    SSLProxyEngine On
    RequestHeader set Front-End-Https “On”
    CacheDisable *
    ProxyPass /myapp https://tomcat-host:8443/myapp
    ProxyPassReverse /myapp https://tomcat-host:8443/myapp
    RedirectMatch ^/$ http://mysite.com/myapp
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/httpd/certs/tomcat-host.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/httpd/certs/tomcat-host.key

    tomcat-host.cer and key are configured on tomcat and tomcat verifies the ssl client.

  2. Leonel


    Thanks a lot for your post! It helped me a lot, but there’s an issue that I cant fix. The application that is running in the tomcat server calls a .ajax URL and it’s giving me 401.

    A cookie of some sort is not getting through the proxy. Do you know how can I fix this?

    1. Giuseppe Urso

      Hi Leonel,
      thanks for comment.
      Make sure that your application does not lose the authentication during the ajax call. 401 error code means Unauthorized access to the requested URL. It requires user authentication but It seems the session loses the credentials when the server invokes the URL with ajax. You should check both the log files of Apache and the Tomcat when the error occurs, in order to figure out if the issue happens from the Apache side or the Tomcat Server side and check also if the http header include the Authentication info.

  3. Sathish

    Thanks a lot for your post!! It helped me a bit, but I have a different scenario which I’m trying mutual SSL

    Client(https) -> Apache -> Weblogic(https)

    In the above scenario, Apache has to redirect the client request to Weblogic server without verifying the client certificate in Apache. The client certificate verification has to happen in WebLogic server.

    Kindly please any suggestions on this.


    1. Giuseppe Urso

      Hi Sathish,

      supposing that Apache is the public fornt-end, I think you should configure two different SSL certificates and use two virtual host entries on your Apache. The first one, serves a normal HTTPS public client access to the Apache server. The second one serves only requests between Apache and Weblogic with a Two-way SSL authentication certificate. Take a look here:


  4. digonzales

    I need help to do the both as https, APACHE https and Tomcat https, I tried but I can’t connect, I receive always error 503

    1. Giuseppe Urso

      503 error code means your server is unavailable and it can happen due to multiple reasons. At first you should figure out which server generates the problem. The 503 error comes from the Apache side or the Tomcat side?

      Check first the Apache HTTPS: use a directive DocumentRoot instead of the ProxyPass/ProxyPassReverse to test the connection (for example DocumentRoot “/var/www/html/test.html”)
      Check the Tomcat HTTPS: try to make a request from the Apache server to Tomcat with wget or curl (for example curl -Ik https://your_tomcat_server:your_tomcat_port/your_webapp)

      If no errors occur replace the DocumentRoot with the ProxyPass/ProxyPassReverse directive and make sure you specify the same Tomcat url used in the Tomcat check.


  5. Ashwini Ravi

    Hi ,
    Current implementation ( From Apache HTTPS to Tomcat HTTP)
    I have a Apache server with Client certificate authentication . I’m not able to pass the certificate details to the tomcat server.
    I wanted to certificate details in my java code to implement certificate based login.

    I had tried to pass the certificate details through the http header , apparently i din’t see the details when i printed all the header details.

    configuration in default-ssl.conf ( snipet )

    # initialize to a blank value to avoid http header forgeries
    RequestHeader set SSL_CLIENT_M_SERIAL ""
    # set the actual value

    I had used the below code to get all header details:

    Enumeration headerNames = request.getHeaderNames();
    while (headerNames.hasMoreElements()) {
    String headerName = (String) headerNames.nextElement();
    logger.info(headerName+" : "+request.getHeader(headerName));

    Kindly let me know how can i extract certificate details and get those in java code.

    1. Giuseppe Urso

      Hi Ashwini,

      it seems you have not enable the SSL support on Tomcat. Make sure both Tomcat and Apache Httpd are enabled to receives HTTPS connections.
      Remember that from the Tomcat side (that means Java) you need to create your certificate keystore with “keytool”. Take a look at the official Tomcat documentation.

      After this, the quick way to test your SSL configuration on Tomcat is to write a java client that simulates Https requests directly to Tomcat. You can find a lot of examples around the web. Here is a nice snippet that make use of HttpsURLConnection of javax.net:


      Take a look at the method which prints the certificate’s parts.

  6. Mrityunjay Kumar

    Hi Giuseppe,

    I have a query. I have a communication channel with an entity outside my organization. My system generate a http request which is then sent to a proxy server. The proxy server converts that http request to https and sends it to outside entity. Similarly the outside entity generates a https request to proxy which is then converted to http and sent back to our application. We have a message encrytption algorithm called SHA1 to sign them. We want to convert them to SHA2. We need to confirm few things for the same.

    1. If we convert the SHA2 algorithm for messages, do we have to worry about the proxy server. Whether the proxy server needs to be configured to handle a SHA2 algorithm.
    2. Do we have to take any extra steps.

    Please help me understand here. Thanks in advance.

    1. Giuseppe

      Hi Mrityunjay,

      is not easy to understand your needs. There are not enough information and details. Anyway it seems, you use SHA-1 only to sign messages exchanged between your client and the outside entity. In this case, I think both the client and the outside entity (not the proxy) should update the algorithm and the process of signature . As you described, it seems, the task of proxy is only to encrypt the communication torwards the outside entity.
      Contrariwise, if you want to update the HTTPS link (proxy-outside_entity) with a SHA-2 certificate, take a look a this:


      I hope this will help you.

  7. rasbian


    I want to do bridge between http and https among two applications in raspberrypi. I installed apache.
    I dont see httpd directory in pi .

    In this case, which file i should modify to make it work.

    Thanks for this stunning guide and your time

  8. rasbian

    Hi, thanks for your reply.

    Now that I need to modify sites-avilable [apache2.conf is a tar file, though can be opened in editor ],
    i like to know the purpose of Paroxypass an dproxypassreverse. both are same.

    if i put below lines in sites-availble , will the http to https and vice versa will happen?

    NameVirtualHost *:80
    ServerName localhost.com
    SSLProxyEngine On
    RequestHeader set Front-End-Https "On"
    CacheDisable *
    ProxyPass /system/console https://localhost.com:8443/system/console
    ProxyPassReverse /system/console https://localhost.com:8443/system/console
    NameVirtualHost *:443
    ServerName localhost.com
    ProxyPass /system/console http://localhost.com
    ProxyPassReverse /system/console http://localhost.com
    SSLEngine on

    I am a beginner in this http ,webserver stuff so, please excuse my naive questions.

    1. Giuseppe

      The apache.conf is a simple text file so you can open it with any text editor.
      ProxyPass and ProxyPassReverse are the two Apache directives which implement the Reverse proxy pattern when a client connects to a server, requesting some service. If you need to offer both the HTTP and HTTPS url to the outside, you have to configure two VirtualHost entries which point to the same destination url. Something like this:

      NameVirtualHost *:80
      NameVirtualHost *:443

      # Start VirtualHost *:80
      ServerName localhost.com
      ProxyPass /yourPath http://destinationHost/yourPath
      ProxyPassReverse /yourPath http://destinationHost/yourPath
      # End VirtualHost

      # Start VirtualHost *:443
      ServerName localhost.com
      ProxyPass /yourPath http://destinationHost/yourPath
      ProxyPassReverse /yourPath http://destinationHost/yourPath
      SSLEngine on
      SSLCertificateFile /yourCertificate.crt
      SSLCertificateKeyFile /yourCertificateKey.key
      # End VirtualHost

      In addition, I think, you should take a look at some basic concepts about the Apache mod_proxy and its directives. Here is some useful resources:

  9. Anuj Kaushik


    I have a query if we are using apache to proxy request using reverse proxy from app to apache on http and then apache making https request to a server and this server is returning SSL back to apache in response can apache decrypt the response and send back http to app.

    if yes please guide me the configuration required in apache to do the same apache is Oracle http server being used in my case.

    1. Giuseppe


      what you’ve described seems a bit confused. Is the Apache between the Tomcat and the SSL Server? Where do the requests come from?
      Anyway I think that first of all, you should understand which server layer generates the problem:
      1) make sure the Tomcat server responds as you aspect
      2) make sure Apache server responds to Tomcat as you aspect
      3) make sure SSL server responds to Apache as you aspect
      4) finally make an integration test with the full stack

      Take a look at the log files of every layer and check if errors occur.

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