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Secure Shell (SSH) is the Wrong Approach to Security

Most system administrators use secure shell nowadays to login to remote machines. It obviously is a great tool that provides many useful features: most importantly it encrypts all data so that your passwords can not be sniffed.

But it is one big chunk of code and therefore it does neither fit into a layered network world nor into the Unix world where every program should do one thing well. By combining its encryption capabilities with a remote shell functionality it doesn't offer the encrypted connection to other programs (well, it does offer this port-forwarding kludge, but not every program cooperates well with it).

The answer of course are Virtual Private Networks (VPN) that can transparently encrypt any traffic travelling between two systems, but anyone who has already setup one of these IPsec beasts knows that tunnelled IPsec connections are no match for ssh's ease of use. What is actually needed is some form of lightweight (point-to-point) VPN much like CIPE. The only remaining problem with CIPE is that it must be set up by the system administrator -- the end-user is not able to set up a connection.

PS: Yes, I am usually using telnet/rlogin (and all those other "insecure" protocols) over the Internet, because I think the net should take care of security and not every single application.

PPS: Someone will now scream that the net can't provide end-to-end security, but you can't provide end-to-end security anyway on a Unix system (if you are not the BOFH yourself).

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Revision: 1.3, cmeerw.org/notes/ssh.html
Last modified: Mon Sep 03 18:20:51 2018
Christof Meerwald <cmeerw@cmeerw.org>
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