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I'm opening my SSH to the world on my home based server. I changed the default port. I made the passwords for root and the only manually added user (done at install time) to totally random 64 character passwords which I store on a USB thumb drive.

In addition, I have followed the steps here to restrict outside access to the IP of my blackberry device:

I also disabled root login (though I may re-enable so I can more easily add/remove/edit files using WinSCP as root - especially if I can restrict root login to address???)

Anyways, studying the SSH config file I see an option:

PasswordAuthentication yes

which when changed to 'no' seems to stop login to the SSH server if I don't have a public key. I've tried setting that up before but always had problems with putty on Windows.

My question is, what advantage does PPK provide in addition to SSH? I thought SSH was already secure? Hence Secure Shell? Perhaps I may have misunderstood, that SSH is only as secure as FTP unless you also configure the SSH to use PPK?

Regards, Alex

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closed as off topic by EEAA, Iain May 6 '12 at 16:17

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This question is off topic for serverfault as it is based on a home system. It may be on topic for security but check their faq and search their site before asking there. – Iain May 6 '12 at 16:17

PasswordAuthentication No makes very sure that any attempts to brute force the password will be in vain. Also, a compromised sshd is not able to sniff the private key when connecting to it; with password authentication it is still tunneled clear text so anybody breaking the server and installing a modified sshd or pam stack now has the password you used to logon, which might be valid on more than just that single server he/she was able to compromise.

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I'm not terribly concerned with brute force based solely on the fact the passwords are 64 characters long and total random gibberish. Being transmitted in plain-text typically isn't a concern either as I usually only SSH into the server from home. However now I have this nifty SSH client for my blackberry - I need to open the port and allow remote logins and the possibility of someone intercepting the password in transmission is more likely. I have always been under the impression that SSH encrypted the password before transmission - that was the whole point behind using SSH. :s – Alex.Barylski May 6 '12 at 16:30
It ceases being encrypted once sshd uses it to authenticate you to the host machine. For example, for a company that uses a couple hundred remote hosts at diverse providers and locations, the chance of one host being tampered with to record the password is less remote than the hosts are. – rackandboneman May 6 '12 at 16:48

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