The Developer’s Guide to Start Using SSH

Start Using SSH

At some point in your career as a developer, you have to access things on a remote server for completing the tasks at hand. Regardless of whether these servers are situated on the public cloud or dwell on-premises, you will have to use the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol.

The following blog will cover all the important aspects of effectively connecting with remote servers utilizing SSH. Specifically, you will figure out what is SSH, how it works, its benefits for developers, different forms of encryptions, and ways and tools to connect with websites via SSH. So without any further ado, let’s begin.

What is SSH?

SSH, an acronym for Secure Shell is a remote administration protocol that permits users to control and manipulate remote servers over the Internet. The service is a more efficient and secured alternative for (unencrypted) Telnet and runs on cryptographic techniques to guarantee that all communications occur with advanced security.

It has advanced features that authenticate remote servers by fetching the inputs directly from users to the host and transferring the output back to the user. SSH alludes to both cryptographic network protocol and to the set of things that executes the protocol. SSH utilizes the client-server model and connects the Secure Shell customer application (where the session is displayed) with the SSH server (where the session will run).

SSH executions frequently require aid from application protocols utilized for terminals and file transfers. SSH can likewise be utilized to make secure paths for other application protocols, such as safely running meetings remotely. An SSH server connects with the default TCP port 22.

How does SSH Work?

If your operating system is either Linux or macOS, utilizing SSH would be extremely basic for you. But if you’re using Windows, you’ll be required to use an SSH client to open SSH connections. One of the widely used and reliable SSH clients is PuTTY.

Mac and Linux users first need to open their terminal program and afterward follow the method described below. Typical SSH command is composed of the following parts:

ssh {user}@{host}

The SSH key command tells your computer that you’re looking forward to opening the encrypted Secure Shell Connection. The {user} addresses the account you need to open. For instance, you might need to get to the root client, which fundamentally has all the rights to manipulate anything on the computer. {host} alludes to the PC you need to get into. This can be an IP address or a domain name.

Right after hitting the Enter key, you will be incited to enter the secret key for the account you want to log in to. After successfully entering it, hit Enter and you will be welcomed with a remote terminal window.

Why is SSH Required?

SSH empowers 2 PCs to build up a safe and direct connection inside a conceivably secure network like the web. This is essential so that third parties can’t get to the data that would prevent your confidential information from falling into the wrong hands. Indeed, there are other ways apart from SSH to build up an immediate connection between two PCs, but they are not reliable.

SSH uses robust encryption for the connection and enables users to operate from the computer. It offers an encrypted connection along with guaranteeing that the connections are set up only between the assigned PCs and the relating information can’t be controlled on its way to the recipient. Following are some of the main areas for the implementation of the Secure Shell:

  • Controlling servers that aren’t available locally.
  • Allowing transferring files securely from one computer to another.
  • Creating secured backups.
  • Making a bridge between 2 PCs with end-to-end encryption.
  • Maintaining a system remotely from different computers.

The launch of SSH has additionally helped in the advancement of different protocols as well. For instance, the less secure FTP protocols used for downloading documents to and from the servers have been transformed into the SSH record move convention (SFTP). A benefit of SSH is that the protocols run on all the popular operating systems.

Encryption Techniques Used by SSH

The critical benefit offered by SSH is the utilization of encryption to guarantee secured sharing of the data between the host and the client. The host alludes to the remote worker you are attempting to access, while the client is the PC you are utilizing to get to the host. There are 3 diverse encryption technologies utilized by SSH:

1. Symmetrical Encryption

In symmetric encryption, a secret key is utilized for both encryption and decoding of a message by both, client and the host. Successfully, anybody having the key can decode the message being transferred. It is also known as a shared key or shared secret encryption. There is normally just one key that is utilized for scrambling the whole communication during an SSH Session.

Both the client and the system determine the secret key utilizing a concurred technique, and the resultant key is never revealed to an outsider. It should be noted that the secret key is explicit to each SSH meeting, and is produced before client verification. When the key has been produced, all data moving between the 2 machines should be encrypted by the private key.

2. Asymmetrical Encryption

In contrast to symmetrical encryption, asymmetrical encryption utilizes two separate keys for encryption and decoding. These two keys are known as the public key and the private key and are collectively known as the public-private key pair. Asymmetrical encryption isn’t utilized to scramble the whole SSH meeting. All things considered, it is just utilized during the key trade calculation of symmetrical encryption.

Prior to starting a secured connection, both parties would have to create a brief public-private key and offer their separate private keys to deliver the shared key. Right after the establishment of symmetric communication, the server utilizes the client’s public key to create and communicate it to the client for validation. If the client is able to decrypt the message by using the private key needed for the connection, the SSH will start instantly.

3. Hashing

Hashing is another type of cryptography utilized in Secure Shell. It is not difficult to create a cryptographic hash from given information while it is impossible for anyone to produce the input from the hash. Hashing offers one-way functionality that varies from the aforementioned ways of encryption because they are not intended to be decrypted.

This simply means that if the client is having the correct input, he/she can produce the cryptographic hash and compare values to verify if the generated input is correct or not. Hashes are majorly used for confirming the validity of messages by utilizing Hash-based Message Authentication Codes.

Connecting with websites via SSH

1. Using Terminal on macOS or Linux

If you’re using Linux or macOS, then you must be aware of the terminal. It is an application that is equivalent to CMD on Windows and by using it, SSH will be able to send the commands either to the machine or the remote servers. Since it doesn’t have a graphical interface, an individual will not be able to use the mouse and only have to type in the text commands.

For the developers who are just starting out, it might get a little complex because it will not be interactive. For opening the terminal on macOS, navigate to the spotlight and search for the same. Else, you can access it through the Applications -> Utilities. For opening it on Linux, search for the same in the Applications Menu.

2. Using SSH Client for Windows

Windows users have to use the SSH client for connecting websites remotely. You first have to install this program on your computer for connecting through SSH. One of the widely used SSH clients is PuTTY that you have to download for securely accessing A website.

For downloading the same, navigate to their official website and download the package according to your system’s configuration. Click on the “download” option and the file will start downloading on your computer. Right after the installation, you can start using it after doing basic configurations.

Information required

For connecting to your website via SSH in either Terminal or the SSH client, utilize the command line and send the command to the servers. For achieving the same, you first need the following information:

  • Server address,
  • Username,
  • Password, and
  • Port.

Some Common SSH Commands

For connecting and interacting with your servers, you can use a wide range of SSH commands. Simply enter the commands for achieving the specific purposes:

1. ls

Using this command will list down all the files and directories available in the present location. Add the following suffixes to the command for modifying your search:

  • Is -l for displaying the file’s information, such as size, date and time, owner, and permissions.
  • ls -a for listing down all the hidden files and directories.

2. cd

This command is used for changing the directory. You will get into a new directory and may use Is command again to know what’s in the new directory. Also, slightly modifying the cd command will help you move up and down in the category.

For instance, add two dots after the cd command for moving down, and for going to a particular directory, try entering the complete path of the directory.

3. mkdir

This command is used for making new directories.

4. touch

Right after creating a new directory, an individual can add a new file to the same with the help of the following command:

touch style.css

5. cat

Using this command will display all the content inside a file.

6. rm

For removing a file or a folder, run the following command.

rm style.css

Note: This process can’t be undone. So, execute this command carefully.

7. cp

This command is used for copying the contents of a file or folder. Uses have to provide the name along with the location for storing the same.

cp [options] [source] [destination]

It is suggested to never include the name of your destination file because if in case there’s already a file with a similar name and destination, then all the contents will be overwritten. Following are some of the optional elements you can add to the cp command:

  • -u for copying the source file if it’s more recent than the destination file.
  • -n for preventing the overwriting cases.
  • -a used for achieving files.
  • -R copies files and folders inside a folder.

8. mv

For moving your files instead of copying, you can use the mv command. You just have to provide the source and destination for achieving the same. For example:

mv /themes/theme1/footer.php /themes/theme2/


Getting all the information from scratch about SSH and its dynamics will assist you in understanding more about the security aspects of this technology. The vast majority believe this process to be incredibly intricate and unreasonable, yet it is a lot less complex than a great many people think.

In case you’re thinking about what amount of time it requires for a PC to compute SSH and verify a user, let us tell you it occurs in less than a second. Indeed, the greatest measure of time is spent in moving information across the Internet.

Ideally, this SSH developer’s guide must have helped you learn about all the encryption technologies used by SSH, such as symmetric, asymmetric, and hash along with learning about how to connect with websites remotely via Secure Shell. In addition, the basic commands mentioned above will be commonly used over your journey of using SSH.


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