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10.4.4.3. Server authentication

The ssh client/server system automatically maintains and checks a database containing identifications for all hosts it has ever been used with. Host keys are stored in $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts in the user's home directory. Additionally, the file /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts is automatically checked for known hosts. Any new hosts are automatically added to the user's file. If a host's identification ever changes, ssh warns about this and disables password authentication to prevent a Trojan horse from getting the user's password. Another purpose of this mechanism is to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks which could otherwise be used to circumvent the encryption. In environments where high security is needed, sshd can even be configured to prevent logins to machines whose host keys have changed or are unknown.

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