A guideline for SSH

This post will show you how to use SSH.

Parameters used for this guideline

hostIP address
e-mail server192.168.0.253

Connect with SSH hosts


Save connections

You can store and label your SSH hosts within your users .ssh directory


The least host configuration looks like this:

  Port 22
  User root

With this host configuration stored, you're able to connect by simply passing the hosts label.

ssh HOST

You are allowed to overwrite stored parameters with new ones.

ssh -p 111 user@HOST

Change configuration on the fly

The main configuration file for SSH on a Debian system is:


! Tip: If you are connected to a host and you change something in inside the SSH configuration files, you can restart the SSH service. Even if you change the port. The connection stays as long as you log out.

Restart the service

You have to restart the server, if you want to activate the changes you have taken.

service ssh restart

Change your SSH Port

The standard Port for SSH is22. This is known by any script kiddie in the whole universe. So, if you receive a lot of Brute Force attacks on your SSH port, it may help if you change it. Search the line with port in the main configuration file and change it:

Port 22

Use SSH without a password

It is possible to login to a SSH host without a password but using aRSA key pair instead.

At first, create the public/private RSA key pair with following command:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

You will store the public key on remote hosts later on. After that, you are able to connect to all of these hosts, by using your private key. If someone will steal your private key, he or she will be able to connect to all of your hosts. So you can now decide if you will set a password for your private key. If not, you can follow along by clicking Enter until all questions are asked.

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/test/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /home/test/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/test/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:nm9VTWqhaFf8yeOmjq0Xt0X74aa574WpkVL5dJvk2c4 test@testpc
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 2048]----+
|             .   |
|          .   + .|
|         o o =.*.|
|        . B * O++|
|       .S* o B.oo|
|       .o.o . o=.|
|        o. +  +E+|
|         .= .+.+.|
|         ++++=*  |

Now you can transfer the public key to a host of your choice:

ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub -p 22 root@

You will get prompted for a password. Afterwards the public key will be transferred via the network to the host:

/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: Source of key(s) to be installed: "/home/test/.ssh/id_rsa.pub"
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: attempting to log in with the new key(s), to filter out any that are already installed
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: 1 key(s) remain to be installed -- if you are prompted now it is to install the new keys
root@'s password:

Number of key(s) added: 1

Now try logging into the machine, with:   "ssh -p '22' 'root@'"
and check to make sure that only the key(s) you wanted were added.

Prevent root login via password

After you have uploaded your public key to the remote host there is no real need to login via password, especially to the root user. You can change following parameter to prohibit-password:

PermitRootLogin prohibit-password

These are the options this parameter provides:

  1. "yes", root user is able to login to the server with a password
  2. "no", root user is not allowed to login with SSH
  3. "without-password" or "prohibit-password", allows the root user to login but only with a RSA key pair

Restart the SSH service and try to access it with a different host which doesn't own the private key (.ssh/id_rsa) and you'll see that there is no way to login without the key.

Send mail on SSH login

A possible way to send an e-mail directly after the login of an user is shown here. The following file is invoked on each succesfull SSH login.


This script sends a mail including the IP address of the logged in user. Additionally the log system will also receive a log line.

ip=`echo $SSH_CONNECTION | cut -d " " -f 1`
    # Get the IP Adress of the connected user

logger -t ssh-wrapper $USER login from $ip
    # Log to syslog

echo "User $USER just logged in from $ip" | sendemail -q -u "SSH Login" -f "Originator" -t "Login <logins>" -s &
    # Send mail

Author:René Zingerle, SSCP
Last Update: 20.07.2022