SSH or Telnet?

by Jon Schlackl

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This article from The Mender (Issue 15),
Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter.


We all know by now that security is a most important issue when it comes to our web servers and workstations. This is why it is important to keep up on the latest patches to cure our systems of viruses, "security holes" and software exploits. One of the most popular ways of working on the internet is telnet. Simply, telnet allows a user to open a session on a remote server and work in the file system as though he/she was sitting in front of the machine. This concept brings security to mind instantly - what if someone were able to get my password? They could easily gain access to the actual machine from anywhere! YIKES! There is a more secure solution available. It requires a little more configuration to set up, but it provides a far more secure environment and connection to your remote server.

Secure Shell (SSH) is what I'm referring to. SSH will allow you the same benefits of telnet without the plain text, "open" connection across the internet. What's more, you can configure SSH to use an encrypted pass-phrase instead of a plain text password to authenticate your users. This means the likelihood of someone gaining access to your machine is minimal. As a further security measure you should restrict the SSH connections to specific IP addresses - this will cause anyone outside the set of permitted IPs to be denied access via SSH even if they have your passphrase.

Working via telnet is a fantastic way to work, however if you've ever been hacked into you'll agree that it is not very secure. So upgrade your servers and workstations to use SSH and disable all telnet services and clients - a quick, relatively easy way to increase your network security.

Other articles from this issue:
- Site Administrator's Corner
- Building a Web Site is Like Building a Guitar
- SSH or Telnet?
- The Tortoise or The Hare?

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