config ssh ubuntu 20.04

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Mastering SSH Configuration on Ubuntu 20.04: A Comprehensive Guide

config ssh ubuntu 20.04

Welcome to the definitive guide on configuring Secure Shell (SSH) on Ubuntu 20.04. Whether you’re a system administrator, a developer, or an IT enthusiast, mastering SSH is crucial for secure remote access and management of Linux servers. This article will walk you through the intricacies of setting up and securing SSH on your Ubuntu machine, ensuring that your connections are not only seamless but also fortified against unauthorized access.

Understanding SSH and Its Importance

Before we dive into the technicalities, let’s understand what SSH is and why it’s a cornerstone of modern server administration. SSH, or Secure Shell, is a network protocol that provides administrators with a secure way to access a remote computer. It is widely used to manage systems and applications remotely, allowing for secure file transfers, command execution, and network services over an unsecured network.

Prerequisites for Configuring SSH on Ubuntu 20.04

To follow along with this guide, ensure you have the following:

  • An instance of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS installed on a server or virtual machine.
  • A user account with sudo privileges.
  • Access to a terminal or command-line interface.
  • A basic understanding of Linux commands and editor usage (nano, vi, etc.).

Step-by-Step SSH Installation and Initial Configuration

Let’s start by installing and initially configuring SSH on your Ubuntu 20.04 system.

Installing OpenSSH Server

First, update your package list to ensure you get the latest version of the software:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install openssh-server

Once installed, the SSH service should start automatically. You can check its status with:

sudo systemctl status ssh

Configuring the SSH Daemon

The main configuration file for SSH is located at /etc/ssh/sshd_config. To edit it, use your preferred text editor:

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Here are some critical configurations you might consider:

  • Changing the default SSH port (Port 22) to a custom one for added security.
  • Disabling root login over SSH (PermitRootLogin no) to prevent direct root access.
  • Limiting user access via SSH using the AllowUsers or AllowGroups directives.

After making changes, save the file and restart the SSH service:

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Securing Your SSH Connection

Security is paramount when it comes to remote access. Here’s how to tighten the defenses of your SSH setup.

Implementing Key-Based Authentication

Passwords can be vulnerable to brute-force attacks. A more secure method is key-based authentication, which uses a pair of cryptographic keys.

  1. Generate an SSH key pair on your local machine:
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096
  1. Copy the public key to your Ubuntu server:
ssh-copy-id username@server_ip
  1. Disable password authentication on your server by editing /etc/ssh/sshd_config and setting PasswordAuthentication no.

Remember to restart the SSH service after making changes.

Using Fail2Ban to Prevent Brute-Force Attacks

Fail2Ban is a tool that scans log files for multiple failed login attempts and bans the offending IP addresses for a specified amount of time.

sudo apt install fail2ban

Create a configuration file specifically for SSH:

sudo cp /etc/fail2ban/jail.{conf,local}
sudo nano /etc/fail2ban/jail.local

Add or modify the following section:

enabled = true
port = your_custom_port # if you changed the default SSH port
filter = sshd
logpath = /var/log/auth.log
maxretry = 5
bantime = 600

Restart Fail2Ban to apply the changes:

sudo systemctl restart fail2ban

Advanced SSH Features and Tips

Beyond basic configuration, SSH offers advanced features that can enhance both usability and security.

Setting Up SSH Agent Forwarding

SSH agent forwarding allows you to use your local SSH keys on a remote server without storing them there. Edit your local SSH config file:

nano ~/.ssh/config

Add the following:

Host your_server_alias
  HostName server_ip
  User your_username
  ForwardAgent yes

Now, when you connect to your server, you can securely forward your keys.

Creating SSH Tunnels for Secure Traffic Forwarding

SSH tunnels can forward traffic securely from one network to another. For example, to create a dynamic port forwarding tunnel:

ssh -D 8080 -C -q -N username@server_ip

This sets up a SOCKS proxy on localhost port 8080.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the SSH port on Ubuntu 20.04?

Edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and change the line that reads Port 22 to your desired port number. Don’t forget to allow the new port through the firewall and restart the SSH service.

Can I use SSH keys generated on Windows with Ubuntu?

Yes, SSH keys are interoperable between systems. You can generate keys using PuTTYgen on Windows and use them with Ubuntu.

Is it safe to disable password authentication in SSH?

If you’ve set up key-based authentication, disabling password authentication can significantly improve security by preventing brute-force attacks.


Configuring SSH on Ubuntu 20.04 is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance the security and manageability of your server. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to establish a robust and secure SSH setup tailored to your needs. Remember to stay vigilant and keep abreast of best practices to maintain a secure environment.


Note: The code snippets provided in this article are examples and should be tested and adapted to your specific environment before being used in production.

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