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I need to create a single AWS EC2 instance to share some work with a collaborator who will have ssh access. My instinct was initially to lock down the instance with a VPN in addition to ssh key access. However, while looking over a tutorial to configure OpenVPN I see that the VPN server itself requires ssh access. (I have ruled out AWS VPN Client in the short term due to cost). Given this information, I don't see the point in creating a VPN for my use case; either way exactly one host is public facing with ssh access.

Am I wrong? Does hiding a single developer machine behind a VPN give more guarantees? If so, what are they?

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You can add extra security by only making it accessible from a certain IP, and have users connect to the VPN so their traffic is coming from that IP.

But using SSH keys is very secure already, so in my opinion there is no need to add a VPN in the middle with all the maintenance coming with it.

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