SSH Agent Forwarding

Instructor: David Gloag
Remote computer access is becoming more and more prominent these days. In this lesson, we'll take a look at SSH, what an SSH agent is, and what SSH agent forwarding means.

Commands Still Rule

We live in an interconnected world. The Internet has opened up many doors in this respect. We can perform banking transactions remotely, we can purchase goods and services from ecommerce vendors, and we can stream entertainment from remote locations right to our living rooms. We do it with clicks from our mouse or taps from our fingers. But there are some who still use text-based interfaces in places where the command line still rules. We're talking, of course, about system administrators: those individuals who keep our systems running and address any operational problems we have. Their weapons of choice are utilities, for example, SSH, SSH agents, and SSH agent forwarding.

What is SSH?

SSH, or secure shell, is a utility that provides encrypted remote access to a network. Encryption is a mathematically-based conversion process that hides information from those who shouldn't be able to see it. Once you are connected, SSH allows you to execute any command available on the network. Here is an example of what the process would look like:

  • You establish a connection to your company's server. Think of this like turning on your cell phone.
  • You are prompted for a user id and password, which you enter. This is like entering the password on your cell phone.
  • If your credentials are accepted, you are presented with a prompt, which asks you to enter a text-based command. This is like the prompt that appears for entering text messages.
  • You type the command of your choice and the parameters associated with the command, and then the command is executed. Think of this like entering messages when you are texting your friends.
  • The prompt appears again, waiting for you to the enter your next command.

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