ubuntu server ssh access denied

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Unlocking the Door to Ubuntu Server: A Comprehensive Guide to Troubleshooting SSH Access Denied Issues

ubuntu server ssh access denied

Gaining secure access to a server is akin to having the right key for a lock. In the world of servers, Secure Shell (SSH) is that key, providing an encrypted pathway through which administrators and users can manage their systems remotely. However, when faced with an “Access Denied” message while trying to SSH into an Ubuntu server, it can feel like being left out in the cold. This article aims to be your locksmith, offering detailed insights and solutions to help you troubleshoot and resolve SSH access issues on your Ubuntu server.

Understanding SSH and Its Importance in Server Management

Before diving into troubleshooting, it’s crucial to understand what SSH is and why it’s a cornerstone of secure server management. SSH, or Secure Shell, is a network protocol that enables secure remote login from one computer to another. It provides strong authentication and encrypted data communications between two computers connecting over an insecure network such as the internet.

The Role of SSH in Ubuntu Server Security

Ubuntu servers, like many Linux distributions, often rely on SSH for day-to-day administration tasks. The protocol ensures that sensitive information, such as passwords and configuration details, remains confidential and unaltered during transit. This makes SSH an essential tool for system administrators who need to perform tasks remotely without compromising security.

Common Causes of SSH Access Denial on Ubuntu Servers

When confronted with an SSH access denial, there are several potential culprits to consider. Understanding these common causes will provide a solid foundation for effective troubleshooting.

  • Incorrect Permissions: SSH keys and configuration files with incorrect permissions can prevent successful connections.
  • Firewall Restrictions: Overly restrictive firewall settings may block SSH traffic.
  • SSH Configuration Errors: Misconfigurations in the

    file can lead to access issues.

  • User Account Problems: Disabled or locked user accounts, or those with expired passwords, can result in denied access.
  • Network Issues: Connectivity problems or DNS misconfigurations can make the server unreachable via SSH.

Troubleshooting Steps to Resolve SSH Access Denied Errors

Let’s walk through a systematic approach to diagnosing and fixing SSH access issues on your Ubuntu server.

Step 1: Verifying User Credentials and Permissions

The first step in troubleshooting is to ensure that the user credentials are correct and that the necessary permissions are set properly on the user’s home directory and the



Step 2: Examining Firewall Settings

Next, verify that the server’s firewall is configured to allow SSH traffic, typically on port 22. Use tools like




to check and adjust settings if needed.

Step 3: Checking SSH Configuration Files

Review the SSH daemon configuration file for any errors or restrictions that might be causing the access denial. Pay special attention to directives like




, and



Step 4: Investigating User Account Status

Ensure that the user account you’re trying to access is active, not locked, and has a valid password. You can use commands like

passwd -S username

to check the account status.

Step 5: Assessing Network and DNS Configurations

Confirm that the server is reachable over the network and that DNS settings are correctly resolving the server’s hostname to its IP address.

Case Studies: Real-World Examples of Resolving SSH Access Issues

To illustrate how these troubleshooting steps can be applied in practice, let’s explore a couple of case studies where SSH access was successfully restored.

Case Study 1: Permission Pitfalls

An administrator found themselves unable to SSH into their Ubuntu server. The issue was traced back to incorrect permissions on the


file, which were promptly corrected, restoring access.

Case Study 2: The Firewall Fiasco

Another scenario involved a server that had been recently secured with a new firewall configuration. The updated rules inadvertently blocked SSH traffic, which was resolved by adding an exception for port 22.

FAQ Section

What should I do if my SSH key is rejected?

Verify that your SSH key has the correct permissions and that it’s added to the


file on the server. Also, ensure that the server’s SSH configuration allows key-based authentication.

How can I regain access if I’m locked out of my server?

If you have physical access to the server or can access it through a console provided by your hosting service, you can log in directly and troubleshoot from there. Otherwise, you may need to contact your hosting provider for assistance.

Can changing the default SSH port improve security?

While changing the default SSH port from 22 to another number can reduce the number of automated attacks, it should not be relied upon as a primary security measure. Implementing key-based authentication and using firewalls effectively are more robust strategies.


Being denied SSH access to an Ubuntu server can be frustrating, but with a methodical approach to troubleshooting, most issues can be resolved. By understanding the common causes and following the outlined steps, you’ll be well-equipped to regain access and maintain the security and efficiency of your server management practices.


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