Barely a few days ago the most recent version of one of the widest used security applications on the internet was released – OpenSSH 5.3. This little application has now reached it’s 10th birthday, and provides a set of tools which every system administrator who’s worth their salt uses daily.
For the uninitiated (catch up Windows!), SSH gives you an encrypted connection to your server wherever on the internet it is. OpenSSH has evolved greatly from what a lot of people perceive to be a secure version of telnet, but the modern truth is far from it. The feature list of OpenSSH is very impressive, and it not only allows seemless secure command line, it can handle dynamic SOCKS proxying for impromptu VPNs, public-key logins for password-less access, along with port fowarding and file transfers. Using the highly flexible X display system it can even forward graphical displays to remote machines as if they were on our own PC. These are all techniques which someone who wants the most from their system should learn to use.
OpenSSH has evolved from an extra layer of security into a whole suite of networking tools – all of which just happen to be fully encrypted and secure to use across public internet connections at the same time! It has also been ported to a whole raft of platforms (Windows, Solaris, HP, etc) and so taken a place right at the heart of the internet.
All this is a testament to the power of Open Source software, and demonstrates how a transparent and public security policy when developing software leads to very great things.