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8.4. Configuring an OpenSSH Server

To run an OpenSSH server, you must first make sure that you have the proper RPM packages installed. The openssh-server package is required and is dependent on the openssh package.
The OpenSSH daemon uses the configuration file /etc/ssh/sshd_config. The default configuration file should be sufficient for most purposes. If you want to configure the daemon in ways not provided by the default sshd_config, read the sshd man page for a list of the keywords that can be defined in the configuration file.
To start the OpenSSH service, use the command /sbin/service sshd start. To stop the OpenSSH server, use the command /sbin/service sshd stop. If you want the daemon to start automatically at boot time, refer to Chapter 6, Controlling Access to Services for information on how to manage services.
If you reinstall, the reinstalled system creates a new set of identification keys. Any clients who had connected to the system with any of the OpenSSH tools before the reinstall will see the following message:
Someone could be eavesdropping on you right now (man-in-the-middle attack)!
It is also possible that the RSA host key has just been changed.

If you want to keep the host keys generated for the system, backup the /etc/ssh/ssh_host*key* files and restore them after the reinstall. This process retains the system's identity, and when clients try to connect to the system after the reinstall, they will not receive the warning message.

8.4.1. Requiring SSH for Remote Connections

For SSH to be truly effective, using insecure connection protocols, such as Telnet and FTP, should be prohibited. Otherwise, a user's password may be protected using SSH for one session, only to be captured later while logging in using Telnet.
Some services to disable include:
  • telnet
  • rsh
  • rlogin
  • vsftpd
To disable insecure connection methods to the system, use the command line program chkconfig, the ncurses-based program /usr/sbin/ntsysv, or the Services Configuration Tool (system-config-services) graphical application. All of these tools require root level access.
For more information on runlevels and configuring services with chkconfig, /usr/sbin/ntsysv, and the Services Configuration Tool, refer to Chapter 6, Controlling Access to Services.