The Secure Shell, also known as Secure Socket Shell or SSH offers users the ability to securely access a computer over an unsecured network.

There are a few utilities provided by SSH that implement the protocol and the suite of utilities itself. By combining strong password authentication and public key authentication with Secure Shell, you can communicate securely over an open network, such as the Internet.

As well as strong encryption, SSH offers remote access, command execution, and file transfers between computers over a network.

As a cryptographic network protocol, SSH can be thought of as a set of utilities that implement this protocol and a suite of tools for using it. The Secure Shell client application displays the session while the SSH server runs the session. We call this the client-server model. SSH implementations often support applications such as terminal emulation and file transfers.

How does SSH work?

A secure terminal emulator and login program was invented as alternatives to Telnet, rlogin (remote login), and rsh (remote shell). The same functions are enabled by SSH as well — logging in to remote systems and running terminal sessions from those systems. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and rcp (remote copy) also have to be replaced by SSH, which can also replace the file transfer programs.

What is SSH used for?

SSH is a security protocol presented on every data center server, whether a Unix, Linux, or Mac server, by default. It is also possible to use SSH connections to send software patches, updates, and other administrative or management tasks, such as secure remote access to resources or remote execution of commands, in addition to securing many types of communication between local and remote computers.

Additionally, SSH allows for managing routers, server hardware, virtualization platforms, operating systems, and file transfer software inside programs that manage systems.

In Secure Shell, connections are made to servers, changes are made, and uploads and exits are performed using tools or the terminal directly to accomplish those tasks. In scripts, backups, configuration management tools, and many other applications, SSH keys can be used to automate access to servers by automating access to scripts and backups.

SSH implementations

The SSH protocol is open-source. In most cases, it has been implemented on a computing platform. Most Linux and Unix systems and Apple’s macOS use the open source OpenSSH implementation.

Windows PowerShell started supporting OpenSSH in 2015. As of 2018, Windows 10 now supports OpenSSH as an option. Microsoft’s ported version of OpenSSH requires explicit enablement in the Windows Settings app, unlike most Unix-like OSes that have SSH by default.

Open source SSH implementation PuTTY is another option. It was originally written for Windows, macOS, and Unix/BSD but now runs on Windows, macOS, and Unix/BSD. Using SSH on a Windows system is one of the most popular options.

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