Doing It All with OpenSSH, Part 1

    Date29 May 2003
    3051
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Way back when, on this very corner, I did a series of articles on encryption and hiding your tracks, something I called the High Tech How Not to be Seen. In that series, I talked about the dangers of plain-text communications . . . Way back when, on this very corner, I did a series of articles on encryption and hiding your tracks, something I called the High Tech How Not to be Seen. In that series, I talked about the dangers of plain-text communications to security. Here's a quick recap for those who still might be connecting to remote systems using telnet. Anyone running a program like sniffit (reptile.rug.ac.be/~coder/sniffit/sniffit.html) can snoop on every packet sailing across your network. If you are logging in using telnet, that person can see your user name and password plain as day. Look at Figure 1, and see if you can guess the user nessie's password. This should dissuade you from using telnet for any kind of communication where security is even remotely important.

    One way around this dilemma is to use the secure shell. OpenSSH is an open-source implementation of the secure shell protocol that comes with almost every major Linux distribution. You can run out to www.openssh.org to get the latest and greatest, but you probably already have it on your system. That said, keeping up to date with the latest version of OpenSSH is essential if you want to maintain security. So, if your version of OpenSSH is more than a few months old, you may want to consider checking for an update.

    The secure shell is more than a simple way to keep your passwords to yourself. In this series, I take you from the basics through some nifty features that should make you wonder why you use anything else to communicate (well, almost).

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