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OpenSSH server Security Top 6

OpenSSH is very popular SSH server. Widely used on different Linux distribution. I used it for many years on my VPS server. It is easy to use, but security is the top issue for any server. Here is the top 6 security settings for Open SSH server.

To make it safe and minimize the risk, change the default setting and make it more safe.
OpenSSH setting file is located:

/etc/ssh/sshd_config

1) Only Use SSH Protocol 2
SSH protocol version 1 (SSH-1) has man-in-the-middle attacks problems and security vulnerabilities. SSH-1 is obsolete and should be avoided at all cost. Open sshd_config file and make sure the following line exists:

Protocol 2

2) Allow Only Specific Users or Groups (AllowUsers AllowGroups)
By default anybody who is authenticated successfully are allowed to login. Instead you can restrict which users (or groups) you allow to login to the system.

This is helpful when you have created several user accounts on the system, but want only few of them to login.

This is also helpful when you are using NIS, openLDAP (or some other external system) for authentication. Every user in your company might have account on NIS, OpenLDAP etc. But, on a specific server you want only few of them to login. For example, on production system you want only sysadmins to login.

Add the following entry to the sshd_config file to allow only specific users to login to the system. In the example below only ramesh, john and jason can login to this system. Usernames should be separated by space.

AllowUsers ramesh john jason

Add the following entry to the sshd_config file to allow only the users who belong to a specific group to login. In the exampe below only users who belong to sysadmin and dba group can login to the system.

AllowGroups sysadmin dba

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