Set Up SSH Keys

Though SSH supports password-based authentication, it is generally recommended that you use SSH keys instead. SSH keys are a more secure method of logging into an SSH server because they are not vulnerable to common brute-force password hacking attacks.

Generating an SSH key pair creates two long strings of characters: a public and a private key. You can place the public key on any server and then connect to the server using an SSH client that has access to the private key.

Step 1 — Creating the Key Pair

The first step is to create a key pair on the client machine. This will likely be your local computer. Type the following command into your local command line:

ssh-keygen -t nd2020

Output
Generating public/private nd2020 key pair.

Step 2 — Specifying Where to Save the Keys

The first prompt from the ssh-keygen the command will ask you where to save the keys:

OutputEnter file in which to save the key (/home/nandani/.ssh/id_ed25519):

You can press ENTER here to save the files to the default location in the .ssh directory of your home directory.

Step 3 — Creating a Passphrase

The second and final prompt  ssh-keygen will ask you to enter a passphrase:

Output
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):

The public key is now located in /home/nandani/.ssh/id_nd2020.pub. The private key is now located in /home/nandani/.ssh/id_nd2020.

Step 4 — Copying the Public Key to Your Server

Once the key pair is generated, it’s time to place the public key on the server that you want to connect to.

You can copy the public key into the server’s authorized_keys file with the ssh-copy-id command. Make sure to replace the example username and address:

ssh-copy-id sammy@your_server_address

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we created an SSH key pair, copied our public key to a server, and (optionally) disabled password-based authentication completely.

For more information about SSH and the SSH service, including how to set up multifactor authentication, please read our related tutorials:

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