SSH Keys for FileZilla and Putty in Cpanel
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This is a tutorial on how to use public and private key certificates in SSH authentication using Cpanel. We will be using Filezilla (GUI method) and Putty (command line method) as a means of connecting to a remote SSH server. For users of Cpanel with SSH feature enabled this will be very helpful in adding extra protection to your SSH.
To see how this type of authentication works, see the screenshot below:
Public and Private key pairs are created together using an SSH key generator (to be discussed later). Authentication of public and private key pairs is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The public key relates to the private key and vice versa. Public keys are installed in the remote SSH server while the private key is stored only on your computer. This private key is used by your SSH client when connecting to a remote server. If the private key used by your SSH client does not relate with the public key in the remote server, one piece of the puzzle will be unsolved and the authentication will not be successful.
The main advantage of using these types of authentication is:
a.) Secure against SSH brute force attacks - as discussed in this article: http://www.la-samhna.de/library/brutessh.html , RSA-based authentication is secured against brute force attacks particularly if you disable the password based logins. Looking at the above screenshot, brute force attacks are useless because you are not using password-based authentication but rather private/public key pair authentication.
b.) Efficient- when you are using command line method like Putty. It is a traditional approach that anytime you log-on to a remote SSH server, it will ask for your SSH username and password. Putty will not show the passwords as you type it, so doing this anytime you connect to a remote SSH server can be time consuming.
If you are using Private/Public key based authentication for your SSH, Putty will no longer ask you for your lengthy password.
Step1: Generate Private and Public Key
To generate your private and public key, follow the procedure below:
a.) Download puttygen.exe. This application will be used to generate the private and public key pairs. You can download it here: http://the.earth.li/~sgtatham/putty/latest/x86/puttygen.exe
Download it to your Desktop. For Windows users, this step is pretty straightforward. However for Ubuntu/Linux users, you need to have Wine installed on your Ubuntu computer and then you need to make puttygen.exe executable.
Right click on it and then go to Properties. Go under the “Permission” tab. Check “Allow executing file as program”. Then click “close”.
b.) Double click puttygen.exe. Click “Generate” and move your mouse cursor to the grey portion enclosed by the red dotted box below. Make sure to move your mouse as “random” as possible for best results.
Do not stop moving your mouse cursor until the key generator stops and provides the keys as shown in the screenshot below:
Do NOT close the generated Putty Key generator keys as shown above because you still need to save both the private and public keys.
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