SSH keys authenticate users to access remote systems or servers over unsecured networks such as the internet. Their function is similar to that of the passwords.
The keys are categorized as public and private keys and they need to be generated. The public key will reside in the server while the private key will reside in the user's machine (Client). To establish access for the user, the keys are exchanged between both the client machine and the server for a successful authentication thus allowing the users access to the systems.
Passwords are often weak and predictable especially when created by humans. They need to be sent over the network to servers during authentication thus increasing the chance for exploitation during the transit.
SSH keys on the other hand are generated by machines. They are long and complex. The private key used in authentication will not be sent to the server. Therefore organizations perceive keys as a more secure way of authentication. A typical large organization will have several thousands of SSH keys.
SSH keys are used extensively
SSH keys are used to access sensitive data that usually involve high privileged access.
Though the keys are more secure when compared to passwords, they can still be exploited by cybercriminals just like passwords, leading to cybersecurity incidents.
Due to the presence of a massive number of keys, the management of keys is a challenge especially when you employ manual approaches to update keys.
Just like passwords, Keys also must be created, stored, retrieved, rotated periodically in an automated manner. Since they are used to access highly privileged data, their usage must be monitored and controlled. Every activity done using the keys must be logged for audit and compliance.
Securden Unified PAM just does all of this for you in a fully automated manner making it easier for you to manage the keys while ensuring that the SSH keys can remain fully protected and your organization can be in perfect compliance with regulatory requirements.