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Create secure tunnels for client-server communication with OpenSSH

Written by IT News on 3:28 AM

OpenSSH offers a suite of tools for secure client-server communication and enables you to create secure “tunnels” for any kind of client-server communication, including checking/sending e-mail or Web browsing. This How do I… introduces you to OpenSSH’s secure tunneling capabilities by demonstrating how the program can be used to create an encrypted tunnel for checking a POP3 mailbox.

OpenSSH

When logging into a remote system over the Internet, there’s always a danger that your password, if transmitted in plaintext, could be intercepted and misused by a hacker monitoring the byte-stream. Most users are well aware of this risk and mitigate it by using so-called “secure shell” programs, which are designed to encrypt user credentials before transmitting them over the Internet. The most popular of these programs is OpenSSH, an OpenBSD project.

What many OpenSSH users don’t realize, however, is that the program doesn’t just allow you to encrypt your telnet sessions. It also offers a suite of tools for secure client-server communication and enables you to create secure “tunnels” for any kind of client-server communication, including checking/sending e-mail or Web browsing. Using these tunnels can significantly improve the security of your system, especially in environments where confidentiality is a key order-winner.

This How do I… introduces you to OpenSSH’s secure tunneling capabilities by demonstrating how the program can be used to create an encrypted tunnel for checking a POP3 mailbox. It assumes a properly configured *NIX system and access to a remote POP3-compliant mailbox.

Step 1: Download and install OpenSSH

The first step, obviously, is to download and install OpenSSH. You can obtain the source code from the official OpenSSH Web site — flavors exist for a wide variety of platforms, and the files are digitally signed to avoid compromising your security. This tutorial uses OpenSSH v4.3.

Once you’ve downloaded the package, decompress it into a temporary directory and execute the standard configure-make-install cycle:
shell> tar -xzvf openssh-4.3p2.tar.gz
shell> cd openssh-4.3p2/
shell> ./configure
shell> make
shell> make install

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