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I am reviewing the security of one of our servers and wanted to see if SSH can ask for public keys when authenicating or use password & challenge response if no key exists.

I cannot seem to work out how to do this. Any ideas?

2 Answers 2

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That's the way it already works. Check the manpage. Note that public key authentication comes before challenge-response authentication.

From the AUTHENTICATION section from the manage:

 The methods available for authentication are: GSSAPI-based authentication, host-based authentication, public key authentication,
 challenge-response authentication, and password authentication.  Authentication methods are tried in the order specified above,
 though protocol 2 has a configuration option to change the default order: PreferredAuthentications.
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Try ssh in verbose mode

ssh -v user@server

You should see a line like this:

debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,keyboard-interactive

You can disable certain authentications methods on server and client side. An you can change the order.

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