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How to replace password-based SSH authentication with key-based

To replace password-based SSH authentication with key-based, you need to set up key-based authentication first and disable password-based authentication afterward. Disabling password-based authentication before setting up key-based authentication may result in locking yourself out of SSH access.

Setting up key-based authentication

To set up key-based authentication, you will need a key pair (how to сreate one).

Add your public key to "~/.ssh/authorized_keys" as a new line using the "nano" text editor (how to install it):

nano ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
How to replace password-based SSH authentication with key-based

Verify that you can establish a new SSH connection to the server using your private key (assuming the private key is "~/.ssh/id_rsa"):

ssh root@host -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Disabling key-based authentication

Open "/etc/ssh/sshd_config" for editing:

nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Find and replace:

PasswordAuthentication yes

With:

PasswordAuthentication no

Verify that there is only one uncommented "PasswordAuthentication" line in "sshd_config":

cat  /etc/ssh/sshd_config | grep '^[ \t]*PasswordAuthentication'

Restart the "sshd" service ("systemd" service manager is the default for both, Debian/Ubuntu and RHEL/AlmaLinux machines):

systemctl restart sshd

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