Implement SSH key-based authentication on Linux
SSH (Secured Shell) is a protocol which creates a cryptographically secured connection between the SSH client and remote servers.
Using SSH you can manage and administer remote servers securely. This can be helpful in many ways.
- Multi-server deployment
- Stop/start services remotely
and all your creativity (hopefully)…
As a sysadmin, this is kind of basic stuff to know.
Let’s learn how…
I will generate a private key and a public key. The private key should be stored on your ssh client machine and must be kept secured. The public key must be copied to the remote server to login to that server from the SSH client machine with no password required.
You’ll learn the following.
- Install SSH (not required if already installed)
- Generate SSH Keys
- Copy SSH Key to a remote server
- Log in to the remote server using SSH
For demonstration purpose, I have 2 servers with below IP addresses, one system is a client and the other one is a server on which I will log in through ssh from a client machine.
- Client (user -> geekflare) : 192.168.56.102
- Remote (user -> ubuntu) : 192.168.56.101
Before you follow the steps mentioned in this article, make sure
openssh-server is installed on the servers. If it is not installed, run the commands below to install.
sudo apt-get install openssh-server sudo systemctl enable ssh sudo systemctl start ssh
You can run ssh command to check whether it is installed on the system or not.
geekflare@geekflare:~$ ssh usage: ssh [-46AaCfGgKkMNnqsTtVvXxYy] [-B bind_interface] [-b bind_address] [-c cipher_spec] [-D [bind_address:]port] [-E log_file] [-e escape_char] [-F configfile] [-I pkcs11] [-i identity_file] [-J [user@]host[:port]] [-L address] [-l login_name] [-m mac_spec] [-O ctl_cmd] [-o option] [-p port] [-Q query_option] [-R address] [-S ctl_path] [-W host:port] [-w local_tun[:remote_tun]] destination [command]
Generate SSH Keys
This needs to be done on a client server.
ssh-keygen command to generate a SSH key. Just press enter when it asks for the file, passphrase, same passphrase. It generates a pair of keys in ~/.ssh directory by default. Id_rsa is the private key and id_rsa.pub is the associate public key.
geekflare@geekflare:~$ ssh-keygen Generating public/private rsa key pair. Enter file in which to save the key (/home/geekflare/.ssh/id_rsa): Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): Enter same passphrase again: Your identification has been saved in /home/geekflare/.ssh/id_rsa. Your public key has been saved in /home/geekflare/.ssh/id_rsa.pub. The key fingerprint is: SHA256:3XDm62tzJegGm8oAmFYCyeFZovJOuU42zNgyn9GzH30 geekflare@geekflare The key's randomart image is: +---[RSA 2048]----+ |o+.. | |+o+ | |oo. . . o | |.. * . * | | B . S . o. | | O o . . . ... .| |+ @ o o . E=. o | | B + o + .o.= . | | + ... o. oo+ | +----[SHA256]-----+
It will generate two new files in
Copy SSH Key to Remote Server
The private key should be copied
~/.ssh folder on a remote server. Most of the servers should already have this folder if not, you need to create a folder.
And, to do so:
- Log in to the remote server with the user you would like to get connected. In my case, its
- Ensure the present working directory is the user’s home directory and then create a .ssh folder. You can also use the following single command to create one
mkdir -p ~/.ssh
If you already have .ssh folder then take a backup of it.
Next, let’s push the public key from a client server.
On the client machine (192.168.56.102), run the command below to copy the public key on the remote server inside an
authorized_keys file in .ssh directory.
geekflare@geekflare:~$ cat .ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh firstname.lastname@example.org 'cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys' email@example.com's password:
Run the command below to set permissions on the authorized_keys file on remote server.
geekflare@geekflare:~$ ssh firstname.lastname@example.org "chmod 700 .ssh; chmod 640 .ssh/authorized_keys"
Great, this concludes key is exchanged and permission is all set.
Login to Remote Server using SSH
Let’s test to see if it works!
Let’s login to the remote server (192.168.56.101) from a client machine (192.168.56.102) as geekflare user.
Run the command below to test, it won’t ask password this time.
geekflare@geekflare:~$ ssh email@example.com Welcome to Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-151-generic i686) * Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com * Management: https://landscape.canonical.com * Support: https://ubuntu.com/advantage 346 packages can be updated. 11 updates are security updates. Last login: Mon Jun 17 00:10:32 2019 from 192.168.56.101
Here you go…
I have logged in to remote server successfully. Running below command will give the IP details of the remote machine.
ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ifconfig enp0s3 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 08:00:27:9b:47:86 inet addr:10.0.2.15 Bcast:10.0.2.255 Mask:255.255.255.0 inet6 addr: fe80::5c62:3267:b752:fe5d/64 Scope:Link UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 RX packets:20239 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:5406 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 RX bytes:22678039 (22.6 MB) TX bytes:701710 (701.7 KB) enp0s8 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 08:00:27:a9:4a:6b inet addr:192.168.56.101 Bcast:192.168.56.255 Mask:255.255.255.0 inet6 addr: fe80::54a9:761c:9034:21a2/64 Scope:Link UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 RX packets:330 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:197 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 RX bytes:42847 (42.8 KB) TX bytes:32774 (32.7 KB) lo Link encap:Local Loopback inet addr:127.0.0.1 Mask:255.0.0.0 inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:65536 Metric:1 RX packets:997 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:997 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1 RX bytes:79654 (79.6 KB) TX bytes:79654 (79.6 KB)
Setting up SSH key exchange is very straightforward as you can see. I hope this helps you and interested in learning Linux administration and troubleshooting then check out this Udemy course.