ssh centos 7 connection refused

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Unlocking the Mystery of SSH Connection Refusal on CentOS 7

ssh centos 7 connection refused

When it comes to managing servers, Secure Shell (SSH) is an indispensable tool for administrators. It provides a secure channel over an unsecured network in a client-server architecture, allowing for secure command execution and data communication. However, encountering a “Connection Refused” error when trying to SSH into a CentOS 7 server can be a frustrating experience. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify this common issue, providing you with the knowledge and tools to troubleshoot and resolve it.

Understanding SSH Connection Refusal

Before diving into troubleshooting steps, it’s crucial to understand what the “Connection Refused” message signifies. This error occurs when your SSH client attempts to connect to the server’s SSH port, but the connection is rejected. This could happen due to various reasons such as SSH service not running, firewall restrictions, incorrect SSH configurations, or network issues.

Prerequisites for Troubleshooting

To effectively troubleshoot SSH connection issues, ensure that you have:

  • Access to the server console or a user account with sudo privileges.
  • Basic understanding of networking and Linux command-line interface.
  • An alternative method to access the server if SSH is not available (e.g., through a control panel or direct console access).

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting Guide

Verifying SSH Service Status

The first step is to check whether the SSH daemon (sshd) is running on your CentOS 7 server. Access the server via an alternative method and run the following command:

sudo systemctl status sshd

If the service is inactive or failed, start it using:

sudo systemctl start sshd

Checking Firewall Settings

CentOS 7 typically uses firewalld as the default firewall management tool. Ensure that the firewall allows incoming connections on the SSH port (default is 22):

sudo firewall-cmd --list-all

If the SSH port is not listed under services or ports, add it using:

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

Inspecting SSH Configuration File

Incorrect settings in the SSH configuration file can lead to connection refusal. Check the configuration file at /etc/ssh/sshd_config for any anomalies, especially the Port, PermitRootLogin, and PasswordAuthentication directives.

Network Configuration and Connectivity

Ensure that the server’s network settings are correctly configured and that there are no IP conflicts or misconfigured routes. Use commands like ip addr and ping to verify network connectivity.

SELinux Contexts and Permissions

CentOS 7 has SELinux enabled by default, which might block SSH connections if contexts are mislabeled. Verify and restore the correct SELinux contexts using:

restorecon -Rv /etc/ssh

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

SSH Verbose Output Analysis

Running the SSH client in verbose mode can provide additional insights:

ssh -vvv user@hostname

Analyze the output for clues about where the connection process fails.

Checking for Host-Based Restrictions

Review /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny files for any host-based access controls that may be impacting the connection.

Examining System Logs

System logs can offer valuable information regarding SSH connection attempts. Look into /var/log/secure or use journalctl to inspect logs related to sshd:

journalctl -u sshd

Preventive Measures and Best Practices

To minimize future SSH connection issues, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Regularly update your system and SSH package to patch known vulnerabilities.
  • Use key-based authentication instead of passwords for enhanced security.
  • Implement fail2ban or similar tools to protect against brute-force attacks.
  • Backup your SSH configuration before making changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if restarting the SSH service doesn’t solve the problem?

If restarting the SSH service does not resolve the issue, proceed with checking firewall settings, verifying the SSH configuration file, and ensuring proper network connectivity.

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

To change the default SSH port, edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and modify the Port directive. Remember to update the firewall settings accordingly.

Can SELinux cause SSH connection refusals even if the configuration is correct?

Yes, if SELinux contexts are incorrect or if specific SELinux policies are enforced, it can lead to SSH connection refusals despite having a correct configuration.


Troubleshooting an SSH “Connection Refused” error on CentOS 7 involves a systematic approach to identify and resolve the underlying cause. By following this guide, you’ll be equipped to tackle this challenge head-on, ensuring uninterrupted access to your server and maintaining a secure and efficient workflow.


For further reading and advanced troubleshooting techniques, consult the following resources:

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