[Ach] Fwd: SSH Pubkey authentication?

Aaron Zauner azet at azet.org
Mon Jan 6 22:23:52 CET 2014

Lorenz Intichar wrote:
> Hi Aaron,
> just as a matter of interest: What security-wise disadvantages do you see
> in ssh pubkey authentication, especially with a private key password set?
Think of large corporate or university networks with kerberized logins
for example. It won't be easy to get rid of users that left the company,
neither will be disabling users access to specific parts of the
infrastructure if they once had access. Most people do not realize this
but the threat of key theft is a very real one - if you talk to
administrators that run large sites they can usually tell you a lot of
stories where users just set their whole home directory to 777 and
another user copied their entire stuff - not necessarily with malicious
intent. I've been working in large ISP setups and data-centers for a
while and now work in (university/biology related) HPC - with a lot of
dumb users. It's really common that people share more than they should
either because they do not care or because they do not know that is
sensitive material. In addition we have different authentication schemes
and policies via the `Match Address` functionality for different IP
ranges in our HPC ssh setups for example.

Either way. I think that is for the administrator to decide. I know that
most people here can probably handle their keys, but I just do not want
to make this a default. You can add the appropriate options commented
out (#) and I'll have no problem to accept a patch.


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