What is SSH (Secure Shell)? | Understanding the Secrets of a Secure Connection

In today’s digital world, businesses and groups must access servers from a distance securely. That’s where the SSH protocol comes in handy. It provides a safe way for users to connect to servers and do things like manage systems and transfer files.

In this article, we’ll discuss the history, advantages, and workings of SSH and why it’s a safer choice than other remote access methods. So, let’s get started and learn more about Secure Shell!

What is SSH?

Credit: WallpaperFlare

What Exactly is the SSH Protocol, and What Does It Do?

SSH (Secure Shell) is a safe way to reach a server from afar. It helps you connect to a server and do things like manage systems and transfer files securely over the Internet.

When you connect, it scrambles details like your username and password so no one else can see them. It has many security features to keep your info safe.

It uses different methods to make sure it’s safe to connect. These methods include passwords, keys, and certificates for verifying who you are. Public keys help keep the connection secure, while private keys make sure it’s really you trying to connect.

You can also use this protocol to send data safely. It’s excellent for transferring files securely because it encrypts the data. This means nobody can snoop on or steal the data while it’s being sent.

It’s a safer option than other ways of reaching servers remotely. For example, some protocols like Telnet don’t encrypt your username and password. This means if someone steals your login details, they can use them. Using Secure Shell helps prevent this by creating a secure connection.

SSH History

Tatu Ylönen, a student at the University of Helsinki in Finland, created SSH in 1995. At the time, other protocols like Telnet and FTP weren’t secure, even though people wanted to send data over the network safely.

Ylönen created the Secure Shell protocol (SSH) to address this need. It uses the TCP/IP protocol and encrypts network communication, allowing data to move securely.

After the first release in 1995 for Unix, later versions were made for different systems like Windows and Mac OS. There are also open-source programs and libraries in many programming languages to help support it.

Even though it was first used for transferring data, it is now used in many other ways. For example, it’s used for things like managing servers, connecting to desktops from far away, and handling databases.

It’s become popular because it’s easy to use and keeps things safe, so lots of businesses use it to protect their networks. It’s also handy for letting employees far away connect to servers securely from anywhere with the Internet.

The protocol’s creation shows how essential open-source software is. Lots of developers worldwide work on it, so it’s always getting better. Since it’s open-source, anyone can use and improve it.

Even today, it’s one of the top ways to keep communication encrypted. As people want more internet security, SSH is becoming increasingly important.

How Does SSH Work?

The way SSH works is like this: it has a client-server setup. To start, the client asks the server if it can connect. The server then checks if the client is allowed in. Once that’s done, the client can safely connect to the server.

This protocol keeps communication safe by using encryption. It scrambles the messages using keys, which are like secret codes, for both the client and the server. When they connect, they make sure their keys match up. Then, they create a new key for talking during that connection.

Secure Shell uses two protocols, SSH-1 and SSH-2, for this connection. SSH-2 is newer and better because it has more features and keeps things safer. Most of the time, people prefer to use SSH-2.

System administrators use this protocol to manage servers and move files. It also works across mixed operating systems.

What are the Advantages?

Many people use the Secure Shell network protocol because it has lots of benefits, especially when you need to keep access and information safe. Here are the main advantages:

  1. Secure access: Encryption keeps messages safe when they travel online. It also makes it quicker to get through password or security checks.
  2. Encryption: It lets people talk secretly online, stopping bad guys from spying on their messages. At the same time, they’re being sent over the Internet.
  3. Authentication: It helps people talk secretly online, so nobody sneaky can listen in or read their messages while they’re being sent over the Internet.
  4. Flexibility: A unique way of doing things that work on lots of different computer systems lets people share information.
  5. Remote management: It enables people who manage servers to control them from far away, which makes it easier for them to do their job, especially if they’re not in the same place as the servers.
  6. File transfer: It helps people who take care of servers to control them from far away, which makes it easier for them to manage and fix the servers, especially if they’re working from home.
  7. Monitoring and logging: People can watch and keep a record of what they do online, which helps make the Internet safer and easier to find any problems that might be risky.
  8. Remote access: People can watch and record what they do on the Internet, which makes the Internet safer and helps detect security issues.
  9. Ease of updates: An easy way to keep your PC safe is by regularly adding security updates so it stays current and protected.
  10. Wide range of uses: This tool helps people who run computer systems control servers and move files around.

How to Make Secure Data Transfer?

This information is safe when it’s sent from one place to another. It uses special codes to make sure no encryption technology can spy on or steal your data while it’s moving around. Plus, it checks to make sure only the right people can access the servers.

This protocol is essential for ensuring your data travels safely. It’s like a security guard, for your information. You can also use it to send files securely using SCP or SFTP. It has lots of tricks to keep your data safe, and once you’ve proven who you are, you can send your stuff without worrying.

1) Key Management

It’s super important to make sure the keys are in the right hands to send data safely. Keys are like secret codes that let you prove who you are and keep your data safe while it’s moving.

In key management, there are two types of keys: private and public. The private key is like your personal secret code, and the public key is like the code that everyone knows. When you send data, the receiver uses your private key to make sure it’s really you and the public key to unlock the message.

2) Server Management

The special computers used to send data are called server infrastructure. They keep your information safe by turning it into secret code when it’s sent. Also, they give you the keys you need to prove who you are.

People often use these servers to access their stuff from far away. For instance, a computer expert might use it to control a server from a different place. These servers ensure that you can access your stuff and that it’s all kept safe.

3) File Transfer

This way, it ensures that files are sent safely. It uses special codes to protect files while they’re moved around. People can use a tool to send files securely. These tricks ensure that files stay secret while they’re sent. Plus, it checks who you are while your files are sent.

4) SCP (Secure Copy Protocol)

SCP is a part of the secure way of moving files around. It makes sure files are copied safely when you’re using a server. SCP works well with Unix and Linux systems. It keeps your file transfers safe by turning them into secret code. Plus, SCP checks who you are while you’re moving files.

5) SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol)

This protocol has something called SFTP for moving files around. SFTP works kind of like regular FTP, but it keeps things extra safe by using secret codes to protect your files. It’s commonly found on Unix and Linux systems.

SFTP keeps your file transfers safe by checking who you are. Plus, it turns your data into secret code while it’s moving around, so nobody can peek at it.

How to Manage a Server using SSH?

Managing servers comes with lots of good things, like making sure connections are safe, being able to control them from far away, setting up secure tunnels, and using special codes to prove who you are. Plus, there are plenty of ways to keep everything safe and secure while you’re managing servers.

When you’re keeping a server safe, here are the main things you need to do:

  1. Connecting to the Server

To connect to the server safely, you can use something called an SSH client. This connection makes sure that the data between the server and your computer is kept secret by turning it into code.

  1. Sending Commands

Server management lets you send commands. These commands give you power over the server, so you can delete files, open programs, and change users’ passwords.

  1. Creating Tunnels

Server management lets you create safe tunnels for doing things on the server. These tunnels help you connect two computers securely. They go through a server and send secret-coded data.

  1. Using Key-Based Authentication

With server management, you can use key-based authentication to do tasks on the server. Instead of needing a username and password, you can prove who you are using a particular pair of keys: one public and one private.

  1. Setting Security Settings

When you’re managing a server, you have different ways to set up how secure it is. These choices help make sure the server is really safe.

How to Encrypt and Decrypt Data?

To make data secret, we often use symmetrical key encryption. Both the sender and receiver have the same key to lock and unlock the data. The sender locks the data with this key using a particular method, and the receiver unlocks it with the same key.

There’s also asymmetrical key encryption, where two different keys are used. The sender locks the data with one key, and the receiver unlocks it with another. This way is faster but even safer.

Different methods, like AES, Blowfish, 3DES, and RSA, help to keep the critical safe while encrypting and decrypting data.

The protocol does all the work of locking and unlocking data automatically, so users don’t need to do anything extra. When you connect to the server, your data is locked up automatically, and it’s unlocked when required, all without you having to do a thing.

How to Make an SSH Connection?

To start an SSH connection, you need to get client software. This program might already be on your computer, but if it’s not, there are lots of free options available. Examples include OpenSSH, PuTTY, and WinSCP.

To connect, you need to know the IP address or website name of the server you want to reach. Then, open the client program and type in that IP address or website name. After that, you’ll need to give the details required to get into the server. Usually, it’s a username and password, but sometimes, for extra security, you might use key-based authentication instead.

Follow these steps to make an SSH connection:

  1. Before you try to connect, make sure you know the server’s IP address or website name.
  2. After that, open the Secure Shell client. If you’re using a Mac, you can find the “Terminal” program by searching for it in Spotlight. On Windows, you can use a program like PowerShell or PuTTY.
  3. On your computer, type in the command to connect to the server:
ssh username@server_ip_address

Change the username and server IP address to match the one you’re trying to connect to. You can also use the domain name instead of the server’s IP address.

For instance, if you want to connect to a server named “example.com” as the user “john,” type the command:

ssh john@example.com

You can see the files on the server by typing ‘ls’ or moving to another folder using ‘cd.’ If you want to transfer files, you can use the ‘scp’ command. To disconnect, type ‘exit’ or close the terminal window.


To sum up, SSH is essential for safely accessing servers and moving files online. It has strong security and secret codes, so you can manage systems and share data without stress. Many businesses and groups worldwide like using it because it works on different kinds of computers.

We hope this article has made Secure Shell clear to you and that you can see why it’s better than other ways of getting into servers from far away. So, when you need to connect to a server from a distance, remember to use this protocol to keep everything safe and sound.

Copyright © 2018 - 2024