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Why you need an SSH Access Manager - Part 2

Mike Barlow
PHP Developer and Co-Founder of ServerAuth
・3 min read

Before diving into this article I recommend you take 5 minutes to have a read of part 1 of our 2 part, "Why you need an SSH Access Manager" blog series.

Part 1 of our article featured more information on the security aspects for why to use one but in this article, I want to talk more about the "managing" of SSH keys as a reason to use one.

Authorized Keys

To define which SSH keys have access to your server, each server user has its own directory and within, a folder called .ssh. This folder should have a file called authorized_keys and the purpose of this file is to hold the public key for each SSH key that should have access.

It's a very simple system that works great, as it's a simple case of adding a new public key on a new line in the file and saving it, (or deleting a line to remove access).

Flaws

This however, does come with some flaws! (Doesn't everything?) In the first instance, this requires you to have access to that server yourself to add a new SSH key.

Usually, this won't cause too much of a problem but there could be times when you need access to a server but have just got a new computer. Or maybe, you reformatted and didn't back your SSH keys up!

Another problem with this is that these authorized keys are not shared between servers. So if you are the manager/team leader and have someone new join your team, have fun logging into every server and adding the persons public key to the authorized keys file.

One of the last main flaws is like the last but in reverse! You have a team member leave and you now need to remember every server they had access to and you have to log in to each one and search the authorized keys file to remove their access.

The Pandemic

The recent pandemic and the work from home movement has shown a rise in the people working from home rather than the office. This means a higher number of people most likely working on new machines, which in turn means more SSH keys needing to be added to servers.

Then if that person leaves, you also now have to find and remove, not just one, but two SSH keys across every server.

Now, with people starting to return to the office, there will be a need to add SSH keys from your work machines to any new servers created during the pandemic, creating more unnecessary for the team leaders.

Solutions

This is where an SSH Access Manager like ServerAuth steps in.

ServerAuth gives you a central place to manage all your SSH Access. Simply create your servers, add your users and grant access all within our platform.

Your users with a ServerAuth account will then be able to log in and add all their SSH keys. Once added, ServerAuth will automatically sync all of the users' SSH keys to every server that you have given them access to.

Find yourself away from your main computer and needing server access? Or have you reformatted your machine and forgot to back up your old SSH key? Simply grab this new machines SSH key, log in to ServerAuth and add the key to your account and wait for it to sync!

Try it now!

While it's not the main thing in most teams tech stacks, an SSH Access Manager is something that teams should start considering. We built ServerAuth in response to our personal experiences and know it will help others!

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