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Glossary: SSH Client

SSH (Secure Shell) is a network protocol that transports data securely over an unsecured network. Its purpose is to provide an encrypted connection to a remote server's shell account.

The ssh-client is the software, which the user runs on his local computer to connect to the remote computer. Once connected, the ssh-client enables the user to run programs or perform other tasks on the remote server.

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Technical SSH Basics

The SSH protocol is described in RFC 4253. The document defines a protocol that provides encryption, cryptographic host authentication, and data integrity.

SSH Client Features and Requirements

In other words, there are many benefits to using a SSH client. The SSH protocol offers safe authtication, encryption and verification that you are connected to the correct computer.

Since most part of the communication path runs over networks that are in control of somebody else (the internet providers, etc.), they could potentially reroute the traffic to another computer. This computer could then play the role of the server which you actually wanted to connect to (man-in-the-middle attack). A SSH feature called known_hosts can prevent this.

SSH-clients should also provide a variety of authentication methods. These include public/private key, username/password and custom formats. The latter can include a systems where the user provides information that only the authorized users know, e.g. by using a SecurID card or by entering an access code from his mobile phone.

To connect to a variety of different servers, the ssh-client software it has to support latest encryption protocols and key exchange mthods. Many servers over time switch to better encryption methods, so the ssh clients need to support these as well, because encryption methods that seemed secure a few years ago, are no longer unbreakable today.

Other typical must have features for a ssh client would be:

  • ED25519, ECDSA, RSA and DSA public key authentication
  • PKCS#11 authentication (this allows authentication through hardware, e.g. smart cards)
  • SSH agent forwarding between client and server
  • Port forwarding (connection tunnel between server and client through the SSH connection)
  • Dynamic port-forwarding (SOCKS like)
  • SFTP and SCP file transfer
  • X11 forwarding (run x-windows apps on the server, show their window on the client)
  • SSH key generator
  • :w
  • UTF8 support in terminal emulation
  • Connection through proxy

To use SSH, You Also Need a Good Terminal Emulator

However, the SSH protocol only defines the connection and transmission of data between the client and server. But the purpose of the client side software usually is terminal emulation, a software is required that lets the user control a remote computer by sending keyboard input to, and receive formatted text (color, cursor placement, etc.) from the server (displaying it on the user's computer).

Therefore the user's software at least needs to be able to perform these functions (i.e. those of a terminal emulator: supporting various terminal emulations, file transfer, printing), but it should also offer convenience functions like host directory, script-automation, logging and so on.

ZOC Terminal offers all those features and a lot more. With secure-shell features like latest encryption and public key authentication, tunneling, port forwarding, smart card auth, etc. this makes ZOC an SSH client that you should try.


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