Tired of being chained to your office computer to access your server? Need to manage your server on the go? If so, you need an SSH client to connect to your server from anywhere in the world.
SSH (Secure Shell) is a network protocol that enables secure connections to remote servers. With an SSH client, you can manage your server, transfer files and run commands from anywhere in the world.
In this article, we’ll show you how to configure and use an SSH client to connect to your server from anywhere. We will discuss the benefits of using SSH, the steps to configure SSH on your server and client, and how to use SSH to manage your server.
Advantages of using SSH
Before we dive into the steps to configure and use an SSH client, let’s explore the benefits of using SSH.
SSH uses strong encryption algorithms to secure your connection to the server. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone to intercept and read your communications.
With SSH you can connect to your server from anywhere in the world. This allows you to manage your server even when you are not physically present in the office.
SSH allows you to run commands on your server remotely. This means you can perform tasks on your server without physically accessing it.
You can transfer files between client and server securely using SSH. This is useful when you need to upload or download files to or from the server.
SSH client settings
Before you can use the SSH client, you must install and configure it on your local computer. Most operating systems come with an SSH client pre-installed. However, if you need to install it manually, you can download it from the official website of the SSH client you want to use.
After installing the SSH client, you need to configure it to work with your server. This involves entering server details including hostname, IP address and port number. You can also configure other options such as encryption algorithms and user credentials.
What is an SSH client?
An SSH client is a program used to establish a secure shell (SSH) connection with a remote server. It allows users to remotely control their server over an encrypted channel, providing a secure way to access and manage their system.
Types of SSH Client
Several types of SSH clients are available, including command-line clients and graphical user interface (GUI) clients. Some of the most commonly used SSH clients are:
- OpenSSH: A free, open-source command-line client included with most Linux distributions and also available for Windows and macOS.
- PuTTY: A popular and widely used GUI client for Windows.
- Terminal: Built-in command line client for macOS.
Features of an SSH Client
SSH client features can vary depending on the specific client being used, but some common features include:
- Encrypted communication: SSH clients use encryption to protect the data transmitted between the client and the server, making it difficult for attackers to intercept and read sensitive information.
- Authentication: SSH clients provide various authentication methods to ensure that only authorized users can access the server.
- Session Management: SSH clients allow users to open multiple sessions on different servers and manage them easily.
- File Transfer: Some SSH clients provide the ability to securely transfer files between your local computer and a remote server.
Connecting to your server using an SSH client
After setting up your server for SSH access, you can now connect to it using an SSH client. There are different ways to connect to your server and in this section, we will explore the most common ways.
A. Basic SSH connection
To establish a basic SSH connection, you need the server’s IP address or domain name, as well as a username and password. Once you have this information, you can open your preferred SSH client and enter the following command:
You will then be prompted for a password and once you enter it correctly, you will be connected to the server.
B. Establishing a Connection with Private Keys
Using private keys to connect to your server is a more secure method than using passwords. To establish a connection using private keys, you must first generate a public-private key pair on the local computer. You can use the following command on your terminal or command line to generate a new key pair:
Once you’ve generated your key pair, you’ll need to copy the public key to your server. You can do this by running the following command:
After copying the public key to the server, you can now connect using the following command:
ssh -i /path/to/private_key username@server_ip_address
You will be prompted for your passphrase (if you set it during key generation) and once you enter it correctly, you will be connected to the server.
C. Using an SSH client with PuTTY
PuTTY is a popular SSH client for Windows that allows you to connect to your server using SSH. To use PuTTY, you must first download and install it on your local computer. Once you have installed PuTTY, you can open it and enter the IP address or domain name of your server in the “Host Name (or IP address)” field. You will also need to select “SSH” as the connection type.
If you want to connect using private keys, you will need to specify the location of your private key in the “Connect” > “SSH” > “Auth” section of the PuTTY configuration. Once you have entered all the necessary information, you can click “Open” to connect to your server.
D. Using an SSH client with a terminal
If you’re using a Mac or Linux computer, you can SSH into your server using the built-in terminal application. To connect, you can use the same command as a basic SSH connection:
You can also use private keys to connect to your server by specifying the location of your private key with the -I parameter:
ssh -i /path/to/private_key username@server_ip_address
Enhancing SSH security
Because SSH is used to access remote servers, it is essential to secure the connection and prevent unauthorized access. Here are some best practices for increasing SSH security:
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds another layer of security to SSH logins by requiring the user to provide a second factor in addition to their password, such as a code sent to their phone.
Disable root login
By default, SSH allows root login, which can be a security risk. It is recommended to disable root login and create a separate user account with sudo rights.
Changing the default SSH port
Attackers often target the default SSH port (22) to exploit vulnerabilities. Changing the default port can make it harder for attackers to discover the SSH server.
Troubleshooting SSH connections
Despite their security and reliability, SSH connections can sometimes run into problems. Here are some common problems with SSH connections and how to solve them:
Connection refused error
This error occurs when the SSH server is not running or accepting connections. Check that the SSH server is running and the firewall is not blocking incoming connections.
Permission Denied Error
This error occurs when the user does not have the correct permissions to access the server. Check that the user has been granted the necessary permissions and that the SSH keys are configured correctly.
Connection Timeout Error
This error occurs when the SSH client cannot establish a connection to the server. Check that the server is reachable and that there are no network issues.
SSH client freezes or hangs
This problem can occur when the connection is unstable or there are network problems. Try closing and reopening the SSH client or restarting the SSH server.
SSH best practices
To ensure the security and reliability of SSH connections, it is recommended to follow these best practices:
Create strong passwords
Use strong passwords that are difficult to guess or brute force.
Update SSH keys regularly
SSH keys can expire over time or be compromised. To maintain security, it is recommended to update your SSH keys regularly.
Revoking access to SSH keys
When an employee leaves the server or no longer needs access to the server, their SSH keys should be revoked to prevent unauthorized access.
Backing up SSH configurations
It is important to regularly back up SSH configurations to quickly restore settings in the event of a failure or security breach.
Comparison of SSH with other remote access protocols
SSH is a secure and reliable protocol for accessing servers remotely, but it is not the only option. Here’s how SSH compares to other remote access protocols:
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
FTP is an unencrypted protocol for transferring files between servers. Not recommended for sensitive data or remote server access.
Telnet is an unencrypted protocol for accessing servers remotely. This is not recommended for security reasons as all data is transmitted in clear text.
RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)
RDP is a protocol for accessing a remote desktop or application. Commonly used for remote access to Windows servers.
VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
VNC is a protocol for accessing a remote desktop or application. Commonly used for remote access to Linux and Mac servers.
SSH is a secure and reliable protocol for remote access to servers. By following best practices for setup, security, and troubleshooting, establishing and maintaining SSH connections is easy. Compared to other remote access protocols, SSH excels in its security and versatility, making it the best choice for remote server access.