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.
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:
I am testing a lot with my own DNS servers as well as with third-party DNS implementations such as DNS proxies on firewalls, DNSSEC validation on resolvers, etc. While there are a number of free DNS online tools around the Internet I was lacking some DNS test names with certain properties or resource records. Hence I configured a couple of them on my own authoritative DNS servers and its zone weberdns.de.
For example we encountered a bug on the Palo Alto DNS proxy that has not stored the TTL value correctly – hence some test names with different TTL values. Or we had some problems when a single DNS name has more than 15 IPv4/IPv6 addresses – hence some test names with lots of addresses. And many more: Continue reading DNS Test Names & Resource Records
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.
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:
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: