centos 7 ssh connection refused

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Unlocking the Mystery of CentOS 7 SSH Connection Refusal

centos 7 ssh connection refused

SSH, or Secure Shell, is a critical service for managing servers and systems remotely. However, when faced with a “Connection Refused” error on CentOS 7, it can halt productivity and become a source of frustration. This article delves into the depths of this issue, exploring its causes and providing comprehensive solutions to get you back in control of your remote connections.

Understanding SSH Connection Refusal in CentOS 7

Before diving into troubleshooting, it’s essential to understand what an SSH connection refusal entails. When attempting to connect to a CentOS 7 server via SSH, the “Connection Refused” message indicates that the server is reachable over the network but is not accepting connections on the SSH port (default is 22). This could be due to various reasons, which we will explore in detail.

Common Causes of SSH Connection Refusal

  • SSH Service Not Running: The most straightforward cause is that the sshd service isn’t running on the server.
  • Firewall Restrictions: A firewall may be blocking access to the SSH port.
  • Incorrect SSH Configuration: Misconfiguration in the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file can prevent connections.
  • Network Issues: Problems with networking or DNS resolution can lead to connection failures.
  • SELinux Policies: Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) might be enforcing policies that restrict SSH access.

Troubleshooting Steps for Resolving SSH Connection Issues

To resolve the dreaded “Connection Refused” error, follow these troubleshooting steps methodically to identify and rectify the root cause.

Step 1: Check if SSHD Service is Running

Firstly, ensure that the SSH daemon is active and running on your CentOS 7 server. You can do this by executing the following command:

sudo systemctl status sshd

If the service is not running, start it with:

sudo systemctl start sshd

And enable it to start on boot using:

sudo systemctl enable sshd

Step 2: Verify Firewall Settings

Next, check if the firewall is allowing traffic on port 22. Use the following commands to manage firewall rules:

sudo firewall-cmd --list-all
sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=ssh
sudo firewall-cmd --reload

These commands list current rules, add a rule for SSH, and reload the firewall configuration, respectively.

Step 3: Inspect SSH Configuration File

Misconfigurations in the sshd_config file can lead to connection refusals. Open the file with a text editor and review settings such as Port, PermitRootLogin, and PasswordAuthentication. Ensure they are set correctly according to your security policies and requirements.

Step 4: Network Diagnostics

Perform network checks to confirm that the server is reachable. Tools like ping and traceroute can help diagnose connectivity issues. Additionally, use netstat or ss to verify that the server is listening on the correct port:

sudo netstat -tulpn | grep :22


sudo ss -tulpn | grep :22

Step 5: Review SELinux Policies

If SELinux is enabled, it might be preventing SSH access. Check the current SELinux status with:


If necessary, adjust SELinux policies or set it to permissive mode temporarily to test if it’s causing the issue:

sudo setenforce 0

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

When basic troubleshooting doesn’t yield results, it’s time to delve deeper into advanced techniques to uncover the underlying problem.

Analyzing Logs for Clues

The system logs can provide valuable insights into why an SSH connection is being refused. Look into /var/log/secure or /var/log/auth.log for any SSH-related entries that might indicate the cause of the failure.

Testing with Verbose Output

Connecting to SSH with the verbose flag (-v) can reveal additional details about the connection attempt. Run the following from the client machine:

ssh -v user@hostname

This output can help pinpoint where in the connection process things are going wrong.

Checking for Host-Based Denials

Ensure that the server’s /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny files are not blocking your IP address or range.

Case Studies and Real-World Examples

Let’s look at some real-world scenarios where users encountered SSH connection refusals and how they resolved them.

Case Study 1: Firewall Misconfiguration

A system administrator discovered that after a routine update, their firewall rules were reset, blocking SSH access. They restored access by re-adding the necessary firewall exceptions.

Case Study 2: Port Change Not Reflected

Another user changed the default SSH port for security reasons but forgot to update their firewall rules accordingly. Once they added a rule for the new port, the connection was successful.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change the default SSH port in CentOS 7?

Edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and change the Port directive to your desired port number. Remember to update your firewall rules to reflect this change.

What should I do if I’m locked out of my server due to SSH issues?

If possible, access the server directly through a console or KVM. If remote access is the only option, you may need to contact your hosting provider for assistance.

Can fail2ban cause SSH connection refusals?

Yes, if fail2ban is configured to monitor SSH connections, it can ban IPs that have had multiple failed login attempts, resulting in a “Connection Refused” error.


Troubleshooting a “Connection Refused” error in CentOS 7 requires a systematic approach. By checking the SSH service status, firewall settings, SSH configuration, network connectivity, and SELinux policies, you can usually identify and fix the issue. Always remember to keep detailed records of changes made to your server’s configuration to aid in future troubleshooting endeavors.


  • CentOS Project. (n.d.). Documentation. Retrieved from https://www.centos.org/docs/
  • OpenSSH. (n.d.). OpenSSH Manual Pages. Retrieved from https://man.openbsd.org/sshd_config
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. (n.d.). System Administrator’s Guide. Retrieved from https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-us/red_hat_enterprise_linux/7/
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