what is ssh-sgent?

andy baxter andy at earthsong.free-online.co.uk
Sat May 3 19:50:15 UTC 2008

John K Masters wrote:
> On 20:11 Sat 03 May     , andy baxter wrote:
>> Hello,
>> Could someone tell me what ssh-agent is? I have the following process 
>> running on my computer, and I'm not sure what it does:
>> root at monkey:~# ps ax | grep 5474
>>  5474 ?        Ss     0:00 /usr/bin/ssh-agent /usr/bin/dbus-launch 
>> --exit-with-session x-session-manager
>> 16932 pts/1    R+     0:00 grep 5474
> ssh-agent is part of the ssh suite of programs. Basically it allows you
> to have a secure connection to another machine using public/private
> keys. Once you have authenticated your connection using your passphrase
> via ssh-add, the session details are kept in RAM on the client machine
> and you can access the server securely without needing a password. 
> If you have not explicitly installed ssh on your machine (IIRC it is not
> installed by default) then I would look closely at the possibility your
> machine has been compromised. However, depending on what applications
> you have installed, ssh may have been pulled in as a dependancy.
I sometimes ssh to a local machine on my network (a small web server), 
so it's possible this is kosher. I haven't done this since I booted up 
though, and that machine isn't even switched on at the moment. The 
program doesn't seem to have any open sockets at the moment:
root at monkey:~# netstat --program | grep ssh
root at monkey:~#

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