An Introduction to SSH and How to Hire for SSH

An Introduction to SSH and How to Hire for SSH

Modern businesses require multiple ways to communicate, often across great distances and highly distributed networks. While internal cybersecurity is a major focus for all businesses, sending data across unsecured networks creates challenges.

Network protocols such as SSH or Secure Shell protocol provide methods for connecting to a device on an unsecured network while maintaining an appropriate security posture. This makes it ideal for companies with remote employees or whose team members regularly work while on the road.

What Is SSH? Basics and Key Features Explained

SSH is a network protocol that allows network users a secure method of accessing computers even via unsecured networks. It can provide a way of logging into business systems remotely while ensuring data passed over that connection remains secure.

The term SSH also refers to any of the tools used to implement the protocol. SSH is a cryptographic network protocol combining complex password authentication with public and private keys.

SSH Key-Based Authentication

These keys correspond to each other, but one is entirely secret or private. When accessing information from the company network, for example, a device must provide the public key (available to anyone) and the private key. The SSH protocol checks that these two keys correspond and, if they do, provides the necessary access.

This is called public key cryptography or asymmetric cryptography.

Related reading: How Should You Hire for Post-Quantum Cryptography?

SSH Implementation Security Risks

Like all network protocols, there are still vulnerabilities. A major one is that the increasing use of varied remote devices means that there is rarely a centralized database of all “authorized” machines. Potentially, devices that don’t match a firm’s security standards could access company data.

Similarly, independent network administrators may be the only ones with the know-how to make secure connections. This can lead to unsupervised changes on multiple devices with no managerial overview, which could increase security risks rather than reduce them.

Best Practices for Securing SSH

Company-wide cybersecurity policies and procedures can help with the implementation of protocols like SSH. Administrators must adhere to these policies or risk disciplinary action.

Centralized platforms that monitor and log remote access can also help provide oversight for network administrators — they improve cybersecurity posture by alerting specialists to unauthorized access.

Regular conversations between network administrators and their managers and direct reports also help ensure the security and effectiveness of SSH. Open communication is the foundation of implementing rapidly evolving security principles.

Using SSH for Secure Remote Administration

Currently, nearly 13% of full-time employees work from home, while over 28% work remotely at least some of the time. That creates challenges for network administrators, who need to ensure these employees have access to the resources they need. SSH provides a way to connect to devices worldwide, regardless of the networks they’re on.

Secure, remote administration allows professionals to:

  • Add or remove files from devices
  • Move data as needed
  • Manage routers
  • Update software and operating systems
  • Install systems and apps
  • Apply restrictions or commands

Anything an administrator can do on an in-house device should be possible with SSH network protocols and remote administration. An SSH administrator will usually have a single login that allows them to manipulate multiple endpoints – devices requiring a connection to company resources.

Hiring SSH Specialists: A Quick Guide

If you’re thinking about hiring an SSH specialist, you’re probably in the market for a new network administrator. Your ideal candidate should have multiple skills, including knowledge of SSH. They’ll also need hardware know-how, the ability to learn “on the job” to upskill themselves regarding your company-specific systems, and should have disaster mitigation planning experience.

This last point is critical for maintaining an effective cybersecurity posture. Even though SSH is a secure protocol, determined cybercriminals constantly search for vulnerabilities in external networks. Cyberattacks and data breaches can cost small to medium businesses up to $653,587 per incident. A network administrator who can demonstrate mitigation strategies and expertise in backups and staying up to date with cybersecurity trends could be a major financial asset to your company.

Properly configuring and securing SSH is crucial for protecting remote access to network devices. Hire the right professionals with help from experienced talent advisors who take your business’s needs into account every step of the way. 

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