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Public Key Authentication

In addition to the standard method of user authentication—a username and password—SSH provides another method: public key authentication. With the traditional authentication method, the remote host stores a username and password pair for a user. With public key authentication, the user creates a key-pair on a given host. The key-pair consists of a private key and a public key. Then the user transfers the public key to the remote host to which she would like to connect. So, the remote host stores a set of public keys for machines on which you have generated a key-pair and transferred a copy of your public key. Furthermore, you can protect your key with a passphrase, rather than a password.

The procedure for enabling public-key authentication is similar in SSH1 and SSH2. We will concentrate our efforts on transferring keys between Mac OS machines and Unix machines. We will also demonstrate generating key-pairs on the Unix side. Finally, we will demonstrate key authentication between Unix machines.


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