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External Access

This page describes how I make my smart home accessible from the outer world.

Prior art

When I was running Home Assistant OS, I had DuckDNS add-on installed. DuckDNS addon is the simplest way to make your HA instance available externally available. It will automatically point your DuckDNS record to your router's IP and request a Let's Encrypt SSL certificate.

Downsides of this approach:

  • it is not so convenient when you try to expose more services as subdomains;
  • it exposes your router's IP to everyone on the internet, making you vulnerable to DDoS attacks.

That's why I've migrated to a more universal setup.

Reverse proxy via Nginx Proxy Manager

Nginx Proxy Manager

Nginx Proxy Manager is a Docker container for managing Nginx proxy hosts with a simple, powerful interface. It makes reverse proxying a breeze.

It let you configure proxies via UI, making it easy, especially for those who don't have any experience with Nginx. It automatically requests, invalidates, and renews SSL certificates from Let's Encrypt. It blocks common attacks. It provides basic auth for unsecured services.

It's simple and powerful. I highly recommend it for your home networks.

DNS via Cloudflare

Cloudflare Dashboard

Cloudflare is a company that provides free DNS and CDN services.

Cloudflare gives lots of useful services for free, and it's easy to set up. It gives a free additional level of security by hiding your router's IP, DDoS mitigation, firewall, access policies, etc. It also improves performance by caching and wide CDN.

The most important use-cases for me: hiding my home IP and protecting from common attacks.

My main DNS A-type record exposes my Nginx Proxy Manager (ports 80 and 443). This name record points to my Home Assistant instance. Other services are exposed via CNAME-type records pointing to the main A-type record.

To avoid issues with DDNS, I have enabled Cloudflare integration for Home Assistant for updating my home IP in Cloudflare DNS records.

Accessing SSH and Samba via OpenVPN

Using Cloudflare makes it impossible to access my home via SSH using a domain name. Additionally, I don't want to expose any other ports on my router except 80 and 443.

My router has a built-in OpenVPN server. When I want to SSH into my home server or open a volume over SSH, I just connect to my home VPN. Once I am connected, I can do everything, like I'm connected to my home WiFi.