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I connect to a server I don't control via SSH.

I use public key access and don't need to be able to connect with a keyboard-interactive password.

I would like to disable keyboard-interactive access to my user so that there is no way for others to hack in this way.

Since I don't control the server, is there a way to set up my user's config file to prevent keyboard-interactive access?

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2 Answers 2

If you have absolutely no control over the server, I don't see a way of doing this, as you don't control server settings, which is where this would have to be.

What you'd need to do is add this to the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file:

PasswordAuthentication no

Now, this would effectively disable password authentication for all users, which may be undesirable. What you could do then, is put this configuration directive in a Match block, so it only applies to your user, in the same config file:

Match user yourusername
PasswordAuthentication no

If you could get the server's admin to do this for you, it might be the way to go.

One other way is to set a really long, random and complicated password for your user, that way you're reasonably protected from random brute-force break-in attempts. Most attackers would likely be using some dictionary-based technique so as long as your password is long and random enough, it should be quite safe.

See "man sshd_config" for more details. Also, the solution I propose was suggested here.

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This is helpful, but I do not believe that this would "have" to be done in the server settings, as you say. It is clear that when I use public-key authentication, the SSH daemon is checking the public key against a file in my user directory. There is no reason to believe that the server could not, in principle, check a user config file for appropriate actions to take regarding keyboard-interactive logins. Whether or not SSHD implements this, I do not know. –  Richard Oct 27 '11 at 19:39
Indeed, the "KbdInteractiveAuthentication" and possibly the "ChallengeResponseAuthentication" settings in the "~/.ssh/config" file seem relevant, though I have not yet succeeded in getting them to work. –  Richard Oct 27 '11 at 20:14
@Richard ~/.ssh/config is only read by the client, not by the server. Sure, the server could, in principle, check a file in your home directory to check whether you want to allow password authentication. But it doesn't. In fact, sshd allows password logins even if your home directory doesn't exist; this can be a lifesaver in some circumstances, such as a hosed /home filesystem. The simple way to prevent others from logging in with your password is not to use a weak or reused password. –  Gilles Oct 27 '11 at 21:10
+1 for strong random password. I assume your current setup is such that you don't need to ever enter the account password? I usually use pwgen 20 or similar to generate a strong random string. Be sure to write down the password somewhere for backup. –  noleti Jul 15 at 3:45

[I assume you're using BASH as your login shell. If not, adjust appropriately...]

In ~/.ssh/authorized_keys, prepend a command specification to each line like this:

command="ssh_key=XXX /bin/bash -l" ssh-dss AAAA...K3E= me@mymachine

In ~/.bash-profile, put the following trap at the top:

if [ "${ssh_key}" != "XXX" ]; then
  echo "${SSH_CLIENT}" | mailx -s "password login attempt!" me@mailservice

Now you'll just get mail when someone uses a password to enter your account.

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