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One Great Reason to Learn How to Use SSH

Written by DreamHost

The Secure Shell protocol (SSH), has one great advantage over other remote login systems — for me, it made login passwords obsolete! Most people who talk about SSH will mention security, encryption, tunneling, port-forwarding and all the other cool stuff. But for me, SSH always meant one thing: I don’t have to set and remember passwords for the hundreds of servers I have accounts on.

Do you want to ignore all the passwords for all your systems and be merry? Read on!

What is Secure Shell Protocol?

The Secure Shell protocol is a cryptographic network protocol that provides a secure way to access a remote computer. SSH also refers to the set of utilities implementing the protocol in a client-server architecture. Basically, SSH clients are allowed to log in and execute commands to a remote server in a secure, encrypted fashion.

DreamHost’s Director of Technology explains how we keep websites safe.

Without entering into the details of how SSH uses symmetric and asymmetric encryption (you can read about it on Wikipedia, if you’re interested), an SSH authentication can be based simply on an exchange of private/public keys between the client and the server. Instead of the usual username/password combination, all you have to remember is the password to unlock one private key.

How to Create a Private Key

In practice, all you have to do is to create a keypair (we have a guide for how to create SSH keys), and upload the public key in the servers you want to log in to. That’s it!

This video sponsored by the National Science Foundation offers some more explanation on why SSH keys are awesome:

Luckily DreamCompute forces you to add your public key to all your cloud servers, as there is no other way to connect to them otherwise. Follow the tutorials to upload an SSH key via the web UI and connect to your instance with ssh keys.

Once you get the basics of SSH authentication, you’ll be able to move on to other awesome tricks possible with SSH, like tunneling and port forwardingVPN-over-SSH and more!

About the author

DreamHost

Leaders in web hosting, domain registration, and cloud services for individuals, small businesses, and developers!

3 Comments

  • I was not aware that SSH has that additional benefits over other remote login systems. Not remembering the different passwords of 100s of servers really makes life easier.

    • I read it often called “secure socket shell” but your comment made me curious and I searched. I tend not to trust Wikipedia anymore, so I went to check the original RFCs (4251, and others. The original RFC indeed call simply “The Secure Shell”. I think you (and Wikipedia) are correct, thank you.

  • Where did you get the expansion “Secure Socket Protocol” for “SSH”?! I’ve only ever heard it spelled out as “Secure Shell” and that’s what Wikipedia says.