SSH Key Setup: Secure Your Access

In the realm of secure communications, SSH keys, comprising both public and private keys, play a crucial role. This guide delves into creating these keys, bolstering your SSH security.

Understanding SSH Keys

SSH keys consist of a pair of cryptographic keys used for authentication. Below is a table explaining the differences and roles of these two keys:

Key Type Public Key Private Key
Purpose Identifies you publicly. Kept secret for your personal security.
Usage Shared openly, placed on the server. Stored securely on your local machine.
Function Used to encrypt data sent to you. Used to decrypt data received by you.
Security Safe to share, cannot be used to decrypt messages. Must be kept secret, used to prove your identity.

Why Use SSH Keys?

SSH keys provide a more secure method of authentication compared to password-based logins. They are virtually impervious to brute force attacks and simplify the login process, eliminating the need for password entry at every login.

Generating SSH Keys

On Linux and macOS

  1. Open a Terminal.
  2. Run the command: ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096
    • Creates a new SSH key, using RSA encryption at 4096 bits.
  3. Save and set a passphrase for added security.

On Windows

  1. Using PuTTY
    • Download and open PuTTYgen.
    • Set ‘RSA’, 4096 bits, generate, and save your private key.

Saving and Using SSH Keys

After generating your keys, install the public key on your server and use the private key to log in.

  1. Copy the public key (
  2. Install it on the server in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.
  3. Log in with your SSH key: ssh -i /path/to/private/key user@hostname

Managing SSH Key Passphrases

A passphrase adds an extra security layer to your private key.

  1. Use a complex, unique passphrase.
  2. Change/remove it using ssh-keygen -p.


Generating SSH keys is fundamental for secure system administration. This guide elevates your security and streamlines remote access.

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