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Home Lab – login configuration

Now that my lab is up and all the pieces connect, it is time to get off the console cable and the tight room at the lab area and relax on my sofa with great view to the AC ;)

In a production environment you always strive on max security and when it comes to routers remote access it is called ssh (if you know nothing about it, start here). Since my lab uses some older routers I have to compromise but lucky enough I enjoy both worlds and can show you how to configure ssh. Keep in mind that (like many other commands) syntax might be a bit different on different IOS versions (but the key components will always be the same).

Out of the 3 routers only my 2621 support ssh. I picked this order of commands to create some of the messages you might see on the way. I’ll explain each of them following the output.

ITDualism1(config)#ip ssh time-out 120
Please create RSA keys to enable SSH.

ITDualism1(config)#ip ssh authentication-retries 3
Please create RSA keys to enable SSH.

The first commands set the values for time-out (0-120) and authentication-retries (0-5). Though it prompted to create RSA keys, the commands did go through and the values I set are in the system. Now it’s time to create the key:

ITDualism1(config)#crypto key generate rsa usage-keys
% Please define a domain-name first.

As you can see, domain-name is prerequisite and the router couldn’t create the key.

ITDualism1(config)#ip domain-name ITDUALISM
ITDualism1(config)#crypto key generate rsa usage-keys
The name for the keys will be: ITDualism1.ITDUALISM
Choose the size of the key modulus in the range of 360 to 2048 for your
Signature Keys. Choosing a key modulus greater than 512 may take
a few minutes.

How many bits in the modulus [512]: 768
Generating RSA keys …
[OK]
Choose the size of the key modulus in the range of 360 to 2048 for your
Encryption Keys. Choosing a key modulus greater than 512 may take
a few minutes.

How many bits in the modulus [512]:
Generating RSA keys …
[OK]

Now that the domain-name is configured, I could create the key.  The reason I choose 768bit for the key is ssh2′s min requirement. At this point I don’t know if the router does support it but want to keep all the options. Generally speaking you should remember that higher bits offer better security but (like everything in life) it come with a cost: performance. Make your decision carefully and consider the hardware specs, expected load on the router and your security requirements. This is a good size selection document.

To complete this step I’ve used the show ip ssh command to verify both version and configuration:

ITDualism1#show ip ssh
SSH Enabled – version 1.5
Authentication timeout: 120 secs; Authentication retries: 3

As you can see, this router does not support ssh2 and the parameters I’ve set does show, though I got the messages when I typed them.

The next step is configuring remote access using ssh. Like access-list (and other features), configuring the parameters doesn’t mean we use the feature and we have to configure it on the required lines:

ITDualism1(config)#line vty 0 4
ITDualism1(config-line)#transport input all

In this case I allow access into vty 0 4 using all protocols, including ssh and telnet. I’ll show the other options with my 2611 routers. At this point ssh is ready and I was able to connect:

This is the standard message you expect to see when you connect via ssh the first time from a new computer. Clicking ‘Yes’ get you to the login screen and you’re good to go.

Older routers do not support ssh. Few ways to check it are shown below:

ITDualism2(config)#ip s?
sap  security  source-route  subnet-zero

The ssh command that we used on the 2621 router is not available.

ITDualism2(config-line)#transport input ?
all     All protocols
none    No protocols
pad     X.3 PAD
rlogin  Unix rlogin protocol
telnet  TCP/IP Telnet protocol
udptn   UDPTN async via UDP protocol
v120    Async over ISDN

Once again, you can see the list of all the available protocols for remote connection and ssh is not one of them.
The one last piece I want to show is how to configure the protocol for the line:

ITDualism2(config-line)#transport input all {all | none | pad | rlogin | | telnet | udptn |v120}
ITDualism2(config-line)#transport preferred telnet

In this example I allow using all protocols but configured telnet as the preferred protocol. The transport preferred setting specifies a search order when attempting to resolve names that might be valid for multiple protocols. If the address or service does not match the preferred protocol, all other valid output protocols are searched to find a valid match.

You can find some good reading from Cisco here, here and here. You might also want to look at this guide.

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