TIL: SSH Key Permissions Must Be Exact!

I just learned that if your private/public key files in ~/.ssh are not properly secured, the SSH service will refuse to acknowledge them.

So, I just re-installed Ubuntu on my dev machine. (18.04, whoop whoop!)

One of the steps I took to make it easier was creating a private repo with all my SSH keys in it, and backing it up to Bitbucket. When I attempted to reuse this repo, I kept getting a signing failed error.

sign_and_send_pubkey: signing failed: agent refused operation

I eventually realized that the key files I'd copied back into place, as well as the SSH config file itself, must have certain owner-only permissions applied or they will be ignored by the SSH service.

I quickly found this SO post which outlined the proper permissions: SO: Permissions on Private Key in SSH Folder. I would think it should be obvious that something as sensitive as SSH keys should be readable to only the owner. Yet, here I was!

The easy fix:

$ chmod 600 ~/.ssh/*
$ chmod 644 ~/.ssh/*.pub

All set! Just to make sure, I ran ssh-add immediately after resolving the permissions.

September 6, 2018

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