We have a user that suddenly cannot log in via SSH on a Linux box. The error output in /var/log/secure is:

Invalid user foo from xx.xx.xx.xx

input_userauth_request: invalid user foo

Some additional details:

  • The user has a shell correctly specified in /etc/passwd

  • The user has a home directory with the correct permissions

  • We made no changes to sshd_config, verified by the mod date

  • No changes to user's .bashrc or .bash_profile

  • The user cannot log in via password or key

  • I've restarted sshd, and restarted the box

  • The user's shell history shows no commands that might have caused this problem

  • Ditto for root (used by only one person)

  • VERBOSE output for sshd gives no other details

  • No other user has this problem

I've done an extensive search, and have not found where else to look to identify the problem -- any insights would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.

  • 1
    What does getent passwd foo say? – jornane Aug 11 '15 at 17:01
  • Are you able to login as he using su foo? – Jakuje Aug 11 '15 at 17:02
  • Thanks for your replies: # getent passwd foo foo:x:32012:32013::/home/foo:/bin/bash And I am able to su foo as well. – user3693019 Aug 12 '15 at 19:36
  • 1
    be aware, auth.log/journal do not quote the user name, if you see quotes, that means your user is trying to log in with a user-name that literally contains quotes. (for example in an .ssh/config user directive) – ThorSummoner Apr 2 '18 at 20:51

A couple things you can check:

If you are using the AllowUsers directive make sure the IP/hostname matches what's defined in sshd_config.

If you are using hostnames instead of IP addresses with the AllowUsers directive verify the hostname reverses properly.

  • Thanks -- unfortunately I'm not using AllowUsers in sshd_config. – user3693019 Aug 12 '15 at 19:37

It happened to me. It was because he was using a VPN. I had the exact same error. Exit the VPN if you have one.

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