For administrative purposes, SSH is used quite often. Almost everyone in IT knows it. Keywords: OpenSSH, simply using “ssh <hostname>” on your machine, PuTTY for Windows, username + password or public key authentication, TCP port 22, simple firewall rules, ignoring the fingerprints 🤦♂️, SCP and SFTP. That’s it – basically.
However, it gets much more complicated if you look into the details. You have to deal with many different types and representations of fingerprints, as well as crypto algorithms. Troubleshooting specific connection problems is challenging.
To get an overview of your SSH server’s configuration is to scan them with appropriate tools. I’m showing two of them here: ssh_scan and the Nmap script “ssh2-enum-algos“.
Continue reading Scanning SSH Servers →
It is widely believed that public/private keys or certificates are “more secure” than passwords. E.g., an SSH login via key rather than using a password. Or a site-to-site VPN with certificate authentication rather than a pre-shared key (PSK). However, even certificates and private keys are not unlimited secure. They can be compromised, too, since the public-key cryptography only implies that private keys won’t be exposed if a brute-force attack is nearly impossible.
So, what’s the real security level of passwords compared to public keys/certificates?
Continue reading Passwords vs. Private Keys →
Until now I generated all SSHFP resource records on the SSH destination server itself via
ssh-keygen -r <name>. This is quite easy when you already have an SSH connection to a standard Linux system. But when connecting to third-party products such as routers, firewalls, whatever appliances, you don’t have this option. Hence I searched and found a way to generate SSHFP resource records remotely. Here we go:
Continue reading Generating SSHFP Records Remotely →
This is actually a bad user experience problem: To generally omit the manual verification of SSH key fingerprints I am using SSHFP. With fully qualified domain names (FQDN) as the hostname for SSH connections such as
ssh nb10.weberlab.de this works perfectly. However, admins are lazy and only use the hostname without the domain suffix to connect to their servers since the domain search does the rest:
ssh nb10. Not so for SSHFP which fails since the default OpenSSH client does not use canonicalization for its DNS queries. Hence you must explicitly enable canonicalization for OpenSSH.
Continue reading SSHFP: FQDN vs. Domain Search/DNS-Suffix →
I am intensely using the SSH Public Key Fingerprint (SSHFP, RFC 4255) in all of my environments. Since my zones are secured via DNSSEC I got rid of any “authenticity of host ‘xyz’ can’t be established” problems. As long as I am using my central jump host with OpenSSH and the “VerifyHostKeyDNS yes” option I can securely login into any of my servers without any warnings. Great!
However, I encountered a couple of daily problems when using SSHFP. One of them was the question whether SSHFP works behind CNAMEs, that is, when connecting to an alias. Short answer: yes. Some more details here:
Continue reading SSHFP behind CNAME →
As a network administrator I know that there are SSH fingerprints. And of course I know that I must verify the fingerprints for every new connection. ;) But I did not know that there are so many different kinds of fingerprints such as md5- or sha-hashed, represented in base64 or hex, and of course for each public key pair such as RSA, DSA, ECDSA, and Ed25519. Uh, a bit too complicated at a first glance. Hence I draw a picture.
Continue reading SSH Key Fingerprints →
If you are using a Lastline device (Manager, Engine, Sensor or Pinbox) you can reach the machine via SSH after you activated it via
monitoring_user_password . However, per default this uses only a password for authentication. If you want to use the key-based authentication for this “monitoring” user account you can add the public key to the authorized_keys file for that user.
This is a small record on how to add a public key to the Lastline device. However, it is quite general since the Lastline appliance is built upon a standard Ubuntu server.
Continue reading Lastline SSH Key-Based Authentication for “monitoring” User →
The usage of the SSHFP resource record helps admins to authenticate the SSH server before they are exposing their credentials or before a man-in-the-middle attack occurs. This is only one great extension of DNSSEC (beside DANE whose TLSA records can be used to authenticate HTTPS/SMTPS servers).
While there are some great online tools for checking the mere DNS (1, 2), the correct DNSSEC signing (3, 4), or the placement of TLSA resource records for DANE (5, 6, 7), I have not found an online SSHFP validator. That’s the idea:
Continue reading Idea: SSHFP Validator →
This is really cool. After DNSSEC is used to sign a complete zone, SSH connections can be authenticated via checking the SSH fingerprint against the SSHFP resource record on the DNS server. With this way, administrators will never get the well-known “The authenticity of host ‘xyz’ can’t be established.” message again. Here we go:
Continue reading SSHFP: Authenticate SSH Fingerprints via DNSSEC →
Sometimes you want to reinstall your Raspberry Pi without switching the SD-card or via remote since it is located on another physical location. Here is a solution to reinstall the operating system remotely.
Continue reading Reinstall your Raspberry over the Network →