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SSH, The Secure Shell: The Definitive Guide [Paperback]

Daniel J. Barrett , Richard E. Silverman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Feb. 11 2001 --  
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Book Description

Feb. 11 2001 0596000111 978-0596000110 1

Secure your computer network with SSH! With transparent, strong encryption, reliable public-key authentication, and a highly configurable client/server architecture, SSH (Secure Shell) is a popular, robust, TCP/IP-based solution to many network security and privacy concerns. It supports secure remote logins, secure file transfer between computers, and a unique "tunneling" capability that adds encryption to otherwise insecure network applications. Best of all, SSH is free, with feature-filled commercial versions available as well.

SSH: The Secure Shell: The Definitive Guidecovers the Secure Shell in detail for both system administrators and end users. It demystifies the SSH man pages and includes thorough coverage of:

  • SSH1, SSH2, OpenSSH, and F-Secure SSH for Unix, plus Windows and Macintosh products: the basics, the internals, and complex applications.
  • Configuring SSH servers and clients, both system-wide and per user, with recommended settings to maximize security.
  • Advanced key management using agents, agent forwarding, and forced commands.
  • Forwarding (tunneling) of TCP and X11 applications in depth, even in the presence of firewalls and network address translation (NAT).
  • Undocumented behaviors of popular SSH implementations.
  • Installing and maintaining SSH systems.

Whether you're communicating on a small LAN or across the Internet, SSH can ship your data from "here" to "there" efficiently and securely. So throw away those insecure .rhosts and hosts.equiv files, move up to SSH, and make your network a safe place to live and work.

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Product Description

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The suite of utility applications that Unix users and administrators find indispensable--Telnet, rlogin, FTP, and the rest--can in fact prove to be the undoing of interconnected systems. The Secure Shell, aka SSH, which isn't a true shell at all, provides your otherwise attack-prone utilities with the protection they need. SSH, The Secure Shell: The Definitive Guide explains how to use SSH at all levels. In a blended sequence, the book explains what SSH is all about, how it fits into a larger security scheme, and how to employ it as an everyday user with an SSH client. More technically detailed chapters show how to configure a SSH server--several variants are covered--and how to integrate SSH with non-Unix client platforms.

As befits its detail- and variation-rich subject, this book comprises many specialised sections, each dealing with some specific aspect of use or configuration (setting up access control at the account level, for example, or generating keys for a particular SSH server). The writing is both informative and fun to read; the authors switch back and forth between text and entry-and-response listings from SSH machines. They often run through a half-dozen or more variants on the same command in a few pages, providing the reader with lots of practical information. The discussion of how SSH fits into a Kerberos Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is great, as is the advice on defeating particular kinds of attacks. --David Wall

Topics covered:

  • The Secure Shell (SSH) for installers, administrators, and everyday users
  • SSH design and operation
  • Server setup
  • SSH agents
  • Client configuration
  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) integration
  • SSH1
  • SSH2
  • F-Secure
  • OpenSSH for Unix
  • SSH1 and SecureCRT for Microsoft Windows
  • NiftyTelnet SSH for Mac OS


If you are looking to secure your network, or just want to find out more about secure transports, then this is the book to buy. -- Peter Scott, FirstMonday, April 2002

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book overall, a few flaws Aug. 7 2003
By C. Rowe
SSH, the Secure Shell: The Defintiive Guide is another great book from O'Reilly. As the name would suggest, however, it's not so much a meant as a tutorial or a howto as it is an in-depth analysis of SSH's workings, though the examples given could probably be used as the former.
The first chapters of the book begin with a lookat what SSH is, a summary of its general uses, and the differences between the various SSH implmentations. It then quickly moves onto a number of practical examples, with explanations of both the 'how' and 'why' behind the examples.
Some of the more interesting examples are those that demonstrate X11 tunnelling, key management, and how SSH can be integrated with other applications (such as PGP, for example).
One of the major faults of the book is in the writing style. The regular switching back and forth between a conversational tone and a serious, technical one was something that I found rather annoying. But other than that, this is more or less a well-rounded and nicely written book on SSH, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this topic.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good Content, Very Poor Organization April 5 2003
I had some experience with ssh prior to purchasing this book, but picked it up to learn about more advanced topics like key pair generation for unattended ssh tunnels.
The content of the book is ok, but the organization is horrible. The authors mix SSH1, SSH2 and OpenSSH and it is easy to get confused as to which files or commands belong to which. To add to the confusion, OpenSSH now appears to support SSH2 protocol so a lot of the file names don't match up. That makes the book a little out-of-date.
The biggest complaint is that there are no "cookbooks". I wanted to do something well-defined and relatively common. There was a section suited specifically to what I wanted. However to ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT the technique, I had to flip back and forth between 5 different sections, plus infer some information about file contents.
There are few complete configuration file examples. There are snips of files scattered throughout a section - again making for a lot of navigation through the book to assemble sufficient information to get the job done.
The index is marginal, which makes this poorly-suited for a reference manual.
In all, a real disappointment for a O'Reilly book. The editors must have been asleep at the wheel.
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By A Customer
I bought this book several months ago because I was considering implementing SSH into a systm. Prior to reading the book, I had little understanding of SSH other than that it provides secure versions of popular tools such as FTP.
I initially read most of it during a cross-country flight. It was really good, and I came away with a good theoretical understanding of SSH. Now here I am several months later trying to actually implement it, and I'm not so pleased with the book. Infomation is scattered throughout the book. If you don't believe me, take a look at the index, it is online here at the Amazon site. As you are reading a topic, the texts suggests you bounce to another page, then another, and another. It's very confusing. Also, probably not so much of the book's fault, but there are a lot of flavors of SSH (both protocols (2) and implementations (many)). I find it very difficult to understand which material in the general text applies to the version I am using. There is a good index that does break down some commands and associated options / arguments by SSH implementation.
One good thing, though, is that I emailed the authors a question, and one of them actually responded.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The benefit of this SSH books was encrypted. June 6 2002
Overall, I didn't really like most of the book. I found the book much too confusing since it described the commerical and open versions of SSH at the same time -- as well as both protocols 1 and 2. My mind likes something much more orthoganal in structure.
I found the OpenSSH man pages much more useful than the book for the operation of OpenSSH.
The back of the book starts to get interesting. For example, it describes the pros and cons of running ssh in a batch process. I wish the information in the front of the book was as useful.
I was looking for a "best practices guide to SSH deployment" rather than just a verbose manpage.
The section on Kerberos and AFS seemed to short, probably because the authors don't use AFS?
I kind of forget how thourough the PAM/OpenSSH part is.
And, I can't recall many debugging tips.
I guess that I had the feeling that the book was a manpage extension rather than a source of good, solid, hard earned pragmatic advice.
I was happy that my employer has a $100.00 book allowance. This isn't a book I care to keep.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good from a practical viewpoint March 21 2002
By A Customer
I had a lot of problems with the "technical" description of the SSH 1 & 2 protocol suites. It seems to me the authors have a half-baked understanding of cryptography theory and a half-baked understanding of the SSH Internet Drafts, and have then combined them to provide a muddled and misleading overview of the protocols.
I think that with a topic as complex and important and network security, it is important to be accurate, and I do believe that you can be accurate without delving into every single detail. But I continue to find passages all over the place (in particular with respect to host- and user-authentication) which leave me scratching my head and wondering: "is this misleading English, or is it just plain wrong?"
SSH-1 is described in this way. Then, the authors proceed to build upon this shaky foundation by describing (in a very handwaving sort of way) how SSH-2 differs from SSH-1. In the process, they gloss over some very fundamental differences between the two protocol suites.
On the other hand, I think the practical presentation of ssh as power tool is very good, and well worth reading. It is the best practical description of ssh that I have encountered.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars SSHweet
I recently finished reading SSH, The Secure Shell, The Definitive
Guide, by Barrett and Silverman over at O'Reilly. Read more
Published on Dec 22 2004 by "_cmp"
3.0 out of 5 stars Slowly getting it
Although not entirely difficult to follow, this book was useful after a little ssh hands-on.
Published on Feb. 3 2003 by SeaMomma
5.0 out of 5 stars The best SSH publication yet.
- A complex and hard to master protocol (protocols).
- An invaluable defensive weapon against several types of attacks. Read more
Published on March 16 2002 by Marco De Vivo
5.0 out of 5 stars Bit wordy, but good information
The authors go into quite a lot of detail regarding how SSH works. I found this to be a very valuable reference for SSH. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Jamin W. Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book for ssh
If you are a UNIX/Linux admin or user, and want the best documentation on SSH then this is the book. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2002 by Kip Perkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly definitive and essential for Unix or Linux owners
SSH has quickly become the tool of choice for remotely administering a Unix (or for that matter) Linux computer, replacing telnet, rsh and ftp. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2001 by A Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for learning SSH
This is a decent book. I suggest it for anyone trying to learn more about the protocol and the program. It differentiates different versions such as OpenSSH, SSH1, and 2. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2001 by DHL
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Guide for SSH, excellent format.
I consider myself a prolific reader of O'Reilly books, and out of the many I have read, I find this book one of the best. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2001 by Doug M
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