man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: July 2014
 
 

ssh(1)

Name

ssh - secure shell client (remote login program)

Synopsis

ssh [-l login_name] hostname | user@hostname [ command]
ssh [-afgknqstvxACNTX1246] [-b bind_address] [-m mac_spec] 
     [-c cipher_spec] [-e escape_char] [-i identity_file] 
     [-i PKCS#11-URI]
     [-l login_name] [-F configfile] [-o option] [-p port] 
     [-L [bind_address:]port:host:hostport]
     [-R [bind_address:]port:host:hostport]
     [-D [bind_address:]port] hostname | user@hostname [command]

Description

ssh (Secure Shell) is a program for logging into a remote machine and for executing commands on a remote machine. It is intended to replace rlogin and rsh, and to provide secure encrypted communications between two untrusted hosts over an insecure network. X11 connections and arbitrary TCP/IP ports can also be forwarded over the secure channel.

This implementation of ssh supports both SSH protocol versions 1 and 2 simultaneously. Because of security weaknesses in the v1 protocol, only v2 should be run, if possible.

Support for v1 is provided to help sites with existing ssh v1 servers to transition to v2. v1 might not be supported in a future release.

ssh connects and logs into the specified hostname. The user must prove his or her identity to the remote machine using one of several methods depending on the protocol version used:

SSH Protocol Version 1

First, if the machine the user logs in from is listed in /etc/hosts.equiv or /etc/shosts.equiv on the remote machine, and the user names are the same on both sides, the user is immediately permitted to log in. Second, if .rhosts or .shosts exists in the user's home directory on the remote machine and contains a line containing the name of the client machine and the name of the user on that machine, the user is permitted to log in. This form of authentication alone is normally not allowed by the server because it is not secure.

The second (and primary) authentication method is the rhosts or hosts.equiv method combined with RSA-based host authentication. It means that if the login would be permitted by $HOME/.rhosts, $HOME/.shosts, /etc/hosts.equiv, or /etc/shosts.equiv, and if additionally the server can verify the client's host key (see /etc/ssh_known_hosts in the FILES section), only then is login permitted. This authentication method closes security holes due to IP spoofing, DNS spoofing, and routing spoofing.

Note to the administrator: /etc/hosts.equiv, $HOME/.rhosts, and the rlogin/rsh protocol in general, are inherently insecure and should be disabled if security is desired.

As a third authentication method, ssh supports RSA-based authentication. The scheme is based on public-key cryptography. There are cryptosystems where encryption and decryption are done using separate keys, and it is not possible to derive the decryption key from the encryption key. RSA is one such system. The idea is that each user creates a public/private key pair for authentication purposes. The server knows the public key, and only the user knows the private key. The file $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys lists the public keys that are permitted for logging in. When the user logs in, the ssh program tells the server which key pair it would like to use for authentication. The server checks if this key is permitted, and if so, sends the user (actually the ssh program running on behalf of the user) a challenge in the form of a random number, encrypted by the user's public key. The challenge can only be decrypted using the proper private key. The user's client then decrypts the challenge using the private key, proving that he or she knows the private key but without disclosing it to the server.

ssh implements the RSA authentication protocol automatically. The user creates his or her RSA key pair by running ssh-keygen(1). This stores the private key in $HOME/.ssh/identity and the public key in $HOME/.ssh/identity.pub in the user's home directory. The user should then copy the identity.pub to $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys in his or her home directory on the remote machine (the authorized_keys file corresponds to the conventional $HOME/.rhosts file, and has one key per line, though the lines can be very long). After this, the user can log in without giving the password. RSA authentication is much more secure than rhosts authentication.

The most convenient way to use RSA authentication can be with an authentication agent. See ssh-agent(1) for more information.

If other authentication methods fail, ssh prompts the user for a password. The password is sent to the remote host for checking. However, since all communications are encrypted, the password cannot be seen by someone listening on the network.

SSH Protocol Version 2

The SSH version 2 protocol supports multiple user authentication methods, some of which are similar to those available with the SSH protocol version 1. These authentication mechanisms are negotiated by the client and server, with the client trying methods in the order specified in the PreferredAuthentications client configuration option. The server decides when enough authentication methods have passed successfully so as to complete the authentication phase of the protocol.

When a user connects by using protocol version 2, similar authentication methods are available. Using the default values for PreferredAuthentications, the client tries to authenticate first by using the hostbased method. If this method fails, public key authentication is attempted. Finally, if this method fails, keyboard-interactive and password authentication are tried.

The public key method is similar to RSA authentication described in the previous section and allows the RSA or DSA algorithm to be used: The client uses his or her private key, $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa or $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa , to sign the session identifier and sends the result to the server. The server checks whether the matching public key is listed in $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys and grants access if both the key is found and the signature is correct. The session identifier is derived from a shared Diffie-Hellman value and is only known to the client and the server.

If public key authentication fails or is not available, a password can be sent encrypted to the remote host for proving the user's identity, or an extended prompt/reply protocol can be engaged.

Additionally, ssh supports hostbased or challenge response authentication.

Protocol 2 provides additional mechanisms for confidentiality (the traffic is encrypted using 3DES, Blowfish, CAST128 or Arcfour) and integrity (hmac-sha2-256, hmac-sha2-256-96, hmac-sha2-512, hmac-sha2-512-96, hmac-sha1, and hmac-md5). Protocol 1 lacks a strong mechanism for ensuring the integrity of the connection.

Login Session and Remote Execution

When the user's identity has been accepted by the server, the server either executes the specified command, or logs into the machine and gives the user a normal shell on the remote machine. All communication with the remote command or shell is automatically encrypted.

If a pseudo-terminal has been allocated (normal login session), the user can use the escape characters noted below. If a pseudo-terminal has been allocated (normal login session), the user can disconnect with ~., and suspend ssh with ~^Z. All forwarded connections can be listed with ~#. If the session blocks waiting for forwarded X11 or TCP/IP connections to terminate, ssh can be backgrounded with ~&, although this should not be used while the user shell is active, as it can cause the shell to hang. All available escapes can be listed with ~?.

A single tilde character can be sent as ~~, or by following the tilde with a character other than those described above. The escape character must always follow a newline to be interpreted as special. The escape character can be changed in configuration files or on the command line.

If no pseudo tty has been allocated, the session is transparent and can be used to reliably transfer binary data. On most systems, setting the escape character to “none” also makes the session transparent even if a tty is used.

The session terminates when the command or shell on the remote machine exits and all X11 and TCP/IP connections have been closed. The exit status of the remote program is returned as the exit status of ssh.

Escape Characters

When a pseudo-terminal has been requested, ssh supports a number of functions through the use of an escape character.

A single tilde character can be sent as ~~ or by following the tilde with a character other than those described below. The escape character must always follow a newline to be interpreted as special. The escape character can be changed in configuration files using the EscapeChar configuration directive or on the command line by the –e option.

The supported escapes, assuming the default ~, are:

~.

Disconnect.

~^Z

Background ssh.

~#

List forwarded connections.

~&

Background ssh at logout when waiting for forwarded connection / X11 sessions to terminate.

~?

Display a list of escape characters.

~B

Send a break to the remote system. Only useful for SSH protocol version 2 and if the peer supports it.

~C

Open command line. Only useful for adding port forwardings using the –L and –R options).

~R

Request rekeying of the connection. Only useful for SSH protocol version 2 and if the peer supports it.

X11 and TCP Forwarding

If the ForwardX11 variable is set to ``yes'' (or, see the description of the –X and –x options described later) and the user is using X11 (the DISPLAY environment variable is set), the connection to the X11 display is automatically forwarded to the remote side in such a way that any X11 programs started from the shell (or command) goes through the encrypted channel, and the connection to the real X server is made from the local machine. The user should not manually set DISPLAY. Forwarding of X11 connections can be configured on the command line or in configuration files.

The DISPLAY value set by ssh points to the server machine, but with a display number greater than zero. This is normal behavior, because ssh creates a “proxy” X11 server on the server machine for forwarding the connections over the encrypted channel.

ssh also automatically sets up Xauthority data on the server machine. For this purpose, it generates a random authorization cookie, store it in Xauthority on the server, and verify that any forwarded connections carry this cookie and replace it by the real cookie when the connection is opened. The real authentication cookie is never sent to the server machine (and no cookies are sent in the plain).

If the ForwardAgent variable is set to “yes” (or, see the description of the –A and –a options described later) and the user is using an authentication agent, the connection to the agent is automatically forwarded to the remote side.

Forwarding of arbitrary TCP/IP connections over the secure channel can be specified either on the command line or in a configuration file. One possible application of TCP/IP forwarding is a secure connection to an electronic purse. Another possible application is firewall traversal.

Server Authentication

ssh automatically maintains and checks a database containing identifications for all hosts it has ever been used with. Host keys are stored in $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts in the user's home directory. Additionally, the file /etc/ssh_known_hosts is automatically checked for known hosts. The behavior of ssh with respect to unknown host keys is controlled by the StrictHostKeyChecking parameter. If a host's identification ever changes, ssh warns about this and disables password authentication to prevent a trojan horse from getting the user's password. Another purpose of this mechanism is to prevent attacks by intermediaries which could otherwise be used to circumvent the encryption. The StrictHostKeyChecking option can be used to prevent logins to machines whose host key is not known or has changed.

However, when using key exchange protected by GSS-API, the server can advertise a host key. The client automatically adds this host key to its known hosts file, $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts, regardless of the setting of the StrictHostKeyChecking option, unless the advertised host key collides with an existing known hosts entry.

When the user's GSS-API credentials expire, the client continues to be able to rekey the session using the server's public host key to protect the key exchanges.

GSS-API User and Server Authentication

ssh uses the user's GSS-API credentials to authenticate the client to the server wherever possible, if GssKeyEx and/or GssAuthentication are set.

With GssKeyEx, one can have an SSHv2 server that has no host public keys, so that only GssKeyEx can be used. With such servers, rekeying fails if the client's credentials are expired.

GSS-API user authentication has the disadvantage that it does not obviate the need for SSH host keys, but its failure does not impact rekeying. ssh can try other authentication methods (such as public key, password, and so on) if GSS-API authentication fails.

Delegation of GSS-API credentials can be quite useful, but is not without danger. As with passwords, users should not delegate GSS credentials to untrusted servers, since a compromised server can use a user's delegated GSS credentials to impersonate the user.

GSS-API user authorization is covered in gss_auth_rules(5).

Rekeying can be used to redelegate credentials when GssKeyEx is “yes”. (See ~R under Escape Characters above.)

Configure ssh with:

UseFIPS140 yes

...to run OpenSSL in FIPS-140 mode. Only SSH Protocol Version 2 is supported. SunSSH may still delegate cryptographic operations for user/host authentication to other parts of Solaris which may or may not be FIPS 140–certified. The default value of UseOpenSSLEngine option is no, and the setting of UseOpenSSLEngine to yes does not have an effect in FIPS mode. As a further requirement to run ssh in FIPS-140 mode, the client needs to generate the user's private key in PKCS#8 format with the ssh-keygen –8 command.

For the case of ssh with FIPS-140 enabled, when logging into a non-FIPS-140 sshd, the supported and approved FIPS ciphers must be explicitly specified in the sshd_config (4), using “Ciphers” for this scenario.

Options

The following options are supported:

–1

Forces ssh to try protocol version 1 only.

–2

Forces ssh to try protocol version 2 only.

–4

Forces ssh to use IPv4 addresses only.

–6

Forces ssh to use IPv6 addresses only.

–a

Disables forwarding of the authentication agent connection.

–A

Enables forwarding of the authentication agent connection. This can also be specified on a per-host basis in a configuration file.

Agent forwarding should be enabled with caution. Users with the ability to bypass file permissions on the remote host (for the agent's UNIX-domain socket) can access the local agent through the forwarded connection. An attacker cannot obtain key material from the agent. However, the attacker can perform operations on the keys that enable the attacker to authenticate using the identities loaded into the agent.

–b bind_address

Specifies the interface to transmit from on machines with multiple interfaces or aliased addresses.

–c cipher_spec

Selects the cipher specification for encrypting the session.

For protocol version 1, cipher_spec is a single cipher. See the Cipher option in ssh_config(4) for more information.

For protocol version 2, cipher_spec is a comma-separated list of ciphers listed in order of preference. See the Ciphers option in ssh_config (4) for more information.

–C

Requests compression of all data (including stdin, stdout, stderr, and data for forwarded X11 and TCP/IP connections). The compression algorithm is the same used by gzip(1). The gzip man page is available in the SUNWsfman package. The “level” can be controlled by the –CompressionLevel option (see ssh_config(4) ). Compression is desirable on modem lines and other slow connections, but only slows down things on fast networks. The default value can be set on a host-by-host basis in the configuration files. See the –Compression option in ssh_config(4).

–D [bind_address:]port

Specifies a local dynamic application-level port forwarding. This works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local side, optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Whenever a connection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over the secure channel. The application protocol is then used to determine where to connect to from the remote machine. Currently, the SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 protocols are supported and ssh acts as a SOCKS server. Only a user with enough privileges can forward privileged ports. Dynamic port forwardings can also be specified in the configuration file.

IPv6 addresses can be specified with an alternative syntax: [bind_address/]port or by enclosing the address in square brackets. By default, the local port is bound in accordance with the GatewayPorts setting. However, an explicit bind_address can be used to bind the connection to a specific address. The bind_address of localhost indicates that the listening port be bound for local use only, while an empty address or * indicates that the port should be available from all interfaces.

–e ch | ^ch | none

Sets the escape character for sessions with a pty (default: `~'). The escape character is only recognized at the beginning of a line. The escape character followed by a dot (.) closes the connection. If followed by CTRL-z, the escape character suspends the connection. If followed by itself, the escape character sends itself once. Setting the character to none disables any escapes and makes the session fully transparent.

–f

Requests ssh to go to background just before command execution. This is useful if ssh is going to ask for passwords or passphrases, but the user wants it in the background. This implies the –n option. The recommended way to start X11 programs at a remote site is with something like ssh –f host xterm.

–F configfile

Specifies an alternative per-user configuration file. If a configuration file is specified on the command line, the system-wide configuration file, /etc/ssh_config, is ignored. The default for the per-user configuration file is $HOME/.ssh/config.

–g

Allows remote hosts to connect to local forwarded ports.

–i identity_file

Selects a file from which the identity (private key) for RSA or DSA authentication is read. The default is $HOME/.ssh/identity for protocol version 1, and $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa and $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa for protocol version 2. Identity files can also be specified on a per-host basis in the configuration file. It is possible to have multiple –i options (and multiple identities specified in configuration files).

–I PKCS#11–URI

Works with a certificate and a private key stored in the PKCS#11 token, instead of an identify file. See the Using X.509 Certificates section in the sshd(1M) man page for details.

–l login_name

Specifies the user to log in as on the remote machine. This also can be specified on a per-host basis in the configuration file.

–L [bind_address:]port:host:hostport

Specifies that the specified port on the local (client) host is to be forwarded to the specified host and port on the remote side. This works by allocating a socket to listen to the port on the local side, optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Then, whenever a connection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over the secure channel and a connection is made to host port hostport from the remote machine. Port forwardings can also be specified in the configuration file. Only a user with enough privileges can forward privileged ports. IPv6 addresses can be specified with an alternative syntax: [bind_address/]port/host/hostport or by enclosing the address in square brackets.

By default, the local port is bound in accordance with the GatewayPorts setting. However, an explicit bind_address can be used to bind the connection to a specific address. The bind_address of localhost indicates that the listening port be bound for local use only, while an empty address or * indicates that the port should be available from all interfaces.

–m mac_spec

Additionally, for protocol version 2 a comma-separated list of MAC (message authentication code) algorithms can be specified in order of preference. See the MACs keyword for more information.

–n

Redirects stdin from /dev/null (actually, prevents reading from stdin). This must be used when ssh is run in the background. A common trick is to use this to run X11 programs on a remote machine. For example,

ssh -n shadows.cs.hut.fi emacs &

starts an emacs on shadows.cs.hut.fi, and the X11 connection is automatically forwarded over an encrypted channel. The ssh program is put in the background. This does not work if ssh needs to ask for a password or passphrase. See also the –f option.

–N

Does not execute a remote command. This is useful if you just want to forward ports (protocol version 2 only).

–o option

Can be used to give options in the format used in the configuration file. This is useful for specifying options for which there is no separate command-line flag. The option has the same format as a line in the configuration file.

–p port

Specifies the port to connect to on the remote host. This can be specified on a per-host basis in the configuration file.

–P

Obsoleted option. SSHv1 connections from privileged ports are not supported.

–q

Quiet mode. Causes all warning and diagnostic messages to be suppressed. Only fatal errors are displayed.

–R [bind_address:]port:host:hostport

Specifies that the specified port on the remote (server) host is to be forwarded to the specified host and port on the local side. This works by allocating a socket to listen to the port on the remote side. Then, whenever a connection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over the secure channel and a connection is made to host port hostport from the local machine. Port forwardings can also be specified in the configuration file. Privileged ports can be forwarded only when logging in on the remote machine as a user with enough privileges.

IPv6 addresses can be specified by enclosing the address in square braces or using an alternative syntax: [bind_address/]host/port/ hostport.

By default, the listening socket on the server is bound to the loopback interface only. This can be overridden by specifying a bind_address. An empty bind_address, or the address *, indicates that the remote socket should listen on all interfaces. Specifying a remote bind_address only succeeds if the server's GatewayPorts option is enabled. See sshd_config(4) .

–s

Can be used to request invocation of a subsystem on the remote system. Subsystems are a feature of the SSH2 protocol which facilitate the use of SSH as a secure transport for other applications, for example, sftp. The subsystem is specified as the remote command.

–t

Forces pseudo-tty allocation. This can be used to execute arbitrary screen-based programs on a remote machine, which can be very useful, for example, when implementing menu services. Multiple –t options force allocation, even if ssh has no local tty.

–T

Disables pseudo-tty allocation (protocol version 2 only).

–v

Verbose mode. Causes ssh to print debugging messages about its progress. This is helpful in debugging connection, authentication, and configuration problems. Multiple –v options increase the verbosity. Maximum is 3.

–x

Disables X11 forwarding.

–X

Enables X11 forwarding. This can also be specified on a per-host basis in a configuration file.

X11 forwarding should be enabled with caution. Users with the ability to bypass file permissions on the remote host (for the user's X authorization database) can access the local X11 display through the forwarded connection. An attacker can then be able to perform activities such as keystroke monitoring.

For this reason, X11 forwarding might be subjected to X11 SECURITY extension restrictions. Refer to the ForwardX11Trusted directive in ssh_config(4) for more information.

If X11 forwarding is enabled, remote X11 clients is trusted by default. This means that they have full access to the original X11 display.

Environment Variables

ssh normally sets the following environment variables:

DISPLAY

The DISPLAY variable must be set for X11 display forwarding to work.

SSH_ASKPASS

If ssh needs a passphrase, it reads the passphrase from the current terminal if it was run from a terminal. If ssh does not have a terminal associated with it but DISPLAY and SSH_ASKPASS are set, it executes the program specified by SSH_ASKPASS and opens an X11 window to read the passphrase. This is particularly useful when calling ssh from a .Xsession or related script. On some machines it might be necessary to redirect the input from /dev/null to make this work. The system is shipped with /usr/lib/ssh/ssh-askpass which is the default value for SSH_ASKPASS

SSH_AUTH_SOCK

Indicates the path of a unix-domain socket used to communicate with the agent.

SSH_LANGS

A comma-separated list of IETF language tags (see RFC3066) indicating the languages that the user can read and write. Used for negotiation of the locale on the server.

LANG, LC_ALL, LC_COLLATE, LC_CTYPE,
LC_MESSAGES, LC_MONETARY, LC_NUMERIC, LC_TIME

The values of these environment variables can be set in remote sessions according to the locale settings on the client side and availability of support for those locales on the server side. Environment Variable Passing (see RFC 4254) is used for passing them over to the server side.

See the ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES section in the sshd(1M) man page for more information on how locale setting can be further changed depending on server side configuration.

Exit Status

The status of the remote program is returned as the exit status of ssh. 255 is returned if an error occurred at anytime during the ssh connection, including the initial key exchange.

Files

$HOME/.ssh/known_hosts

Records host keys for all hosts the user has logged into that are not in /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts. See sshd(1M).

$HOME/.ssh/identity
$HOME/.ssh/id_dsa
$HOME/.ssh/id_ssa

Contains the authentication identity of the user. These files are for protocol 1 RSA, protocol 2 DSA, and protocol 2 RSA, respectively. These files contain sensitive data and should be readable by the user but not accessible by others (read/write/execute). ssh ignores a private key file if it is accessible by others. It is possible to specify a passphrase when generating the key. The passphrase is used to encrypt the sensitive part of this file using 3DES.

/etc/ssh/sshrc

Commands in this file are executed by ssh when the user logs in just before the user's shell or command is started. See sshd(1M) for more information.

$HOME/.ssh/rc

Commands in this file are executed by ssh when the user logs in just before the user's shell or command is started. See sshd(1M) for more information.

$HOME/.ssh/environment

Contains additional definitions for environment variables. See ENVIRONMENT VARIABLES.

Attributes

See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following attributes:

ATTRIBUTE TYPE
ATTRIBUTE VALUE
Availability
network/ssh
Interface Stability
See below.

The command line syntax is Committed. The remote locale selection through passing LC_* environment variables is Uncommitted.

See Also

rlogin(1), rsh(1), scp(1), ssh-add(1), ssh-agent(1), ssh-keygen(1), ssh-http-proxy-connect(1), ssh-socks5-proxy-connect(1), telnet(1), sshd (1M), ssh_config(4), sshd_config (4), attributes(5), gss_auth_rules(5), kerberos(5), privileges(5)

See the discussion of the .k5login file in krb5_auth_rules(5).

RFC 1928

RFC 4254