Recently I've noticed a process called 'ssh-agent' running on my computer. It's only been there for a week or so, but it's never been there before. According to system monitor, the process running is 'ssh-agent -s' and it is running as my user.

I know SSH is used to remotely log into a computer. Is it a security risk to leave this running, or is it something I can just leave alone?

1 Answer 1


ssh-agent is a background utility for, optionally, keeping your ssh key, so that you can start ssh without needing to type in the key each time. It's not a security risk and harmless to leave, and harmless to kill as well if you're not using ssh. Though, ordinarily it gets started around starting the X server, so that it can export a useful shell environment to let you use it without fuss, so killing it might kill the X server (which is harmless only from a narrow security point of view).

If you do want to use it, and ssh, you would first tell it your key via the ssh-add command.

  • I don't use ssh, which is why I was confused when it started popping up. Thanks for the info! Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 3:11

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