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Pro OpenSSH Paperback – October 15, 2005
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About the Author
Michael Stahnke works as a Unix security administrator at a Fortune 100 company in the Midwest. He has headed implementation of Secure Shell for his corporate IT group and assisted with global production rollouts. Additionally, he has led several studies and projects to improve the security state of his large-scale UNIX/Linux environment. When not devoting his time to improving security at work, Michael spends time researching and applying new open-source technologies and practices. Michael has also done contract programming to create content management solutions utilizing PHP, Perl, MySQL and C++.
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The author have organized the book well and move the reader from the basics of what SSH can do for you, installing, and configuring SSH through best practices for securing your SSH server, tunneling protocols, and administering your OpenSSH server. The author does an excellent job of explaining each step simply, concisely, and clearly without being too simplistic while still providing all the technical information you need to set it all up and get it running correctly. The book does not go into theoretical detail to any significant extent and so is not appropriate for someone wanting to learn theoretical implementation and programming OpenSSH. On the other hand, if all you want is to understand what it is, how to set it up and get it running correctly, and how to administer it once it is up then this is easily one of the best books on the subject. Pro OpenSSH is highly recommended.
In part 2, Michael Stahnke discusses the configuration of OpenSSH starting with a detailed look at the files required by the client and the server portions of the program including manual-page-like descriptions of the keywords in sshd_config and the options and syntax of the command-line tools. The chapter on Authentication digs into Public Key Authentication, key generation and distribution as well as key management (also taken onto a new level in a later chapter), and agent forwarding. This is a must-read for anyone who uses SSH to connect to more than one host.
The advanced topics start in part 3, and this is where the "Pro" begins. The complex topic TCP forwarding is well explained and a number of diagrams help the reader to better understand the nitty-gritty of setting up tunnels with OpenSSH.
The most interesting chapter I found next; Managing your OpenSSH Environment, in which the author introduces an OpenSSH secure gateway that can be used in large environments. Securing OpenSSH, SSH- and Key-Management are followed by SSHFP (RFC 4255), a method to store public host keys in DNS. Stahnke implements a method for distributing public keys using RPM. Although that is interesting in itself, I strongly missed a discussion on storing SSH public keys in an LDAP directory; a must-have IMHO.
Part 4 of Pro OpenSSH deals with Administration. Sundry Shell and Perl scripts in real-world examples give the reader a good look into the capabilities of using OpenSSH in her own tools on her own systems. Last but not least, the appendices focus on alternative SSH clients and SSH on Windows.
Even if you have, like I have, already read SSH, The Secure Shell, Apress' Pro OpenSSH is well worth reading. I give it an 8/10.