Using DNS to Securely Publish Secure Shell (SSH) Key Fingerprints

    Date05 Jul 2006
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    This document describes a method of verifying Secure Shell (SSH) host keys using Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC). The document defines a new DNS resource record that contains a standard SSH key fingerprint.

    The SSH [6] protocol provides secure remote login and other secure network services over an insecure network. The security of the connection relies on the server authenticating itself to the client as well as the user authenticating itself to the server. If a connection is established to a server whose public key is not already known to the client, a fingerprint of the key is presented to the user for verification. If the user decides that the fingerprint is correct and accepts the key, the key is saved locally and used for verification for all following connections. While some security-conscious users verify the fingerprint out-of-band before accepting the key, many users blindly accept the presented key. The method described here can provide out-of-band verification by looking up a fingerprint of the server public key in the DNS [1][2] and using DNSSEC [5] to verify the lookup.

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