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SSH server & client security auditing (banner, key exchange, encryption, mac, compression, compatibility, security, etc)


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ssh-audit is a tool for ssh server & client configuration auditing.

jtesta/ssh-audit (v2.0+) is the updated and maintained version of ssh-audit forked from arthepsy/ssh-audit (v1.x) due to inactivity.


  • SSH1 and SSH2 protocol server support;
  • analyze SSH client configuration;
  • grab banner, recognize device or software and operating system, detect compression;
  • gather key-exchange, host-key, encryption and message authentication code algorithms;
  • output algorithm information (available since, removed/disabled, unsafe/weak/legacy, etc);
  • output algorithm recommendations (append or remove based on recognized software version);
  • output security information (related issues, assigned CVE list, etc);
  • analyze SSH version compatibility based on algorithm information;
  • historical information from OpenSSH, Dropbear SSH and libssh;
  • policy scans to ensure adherence to a hardened/standard configuration;
  • runs on Linux and Windows;
  • supports Python 3.8 - 3.12;
  • no dependencies


usage: [options] <host>

   -h,  --help             print this help
   -1,  --ssh1             force ssh version 1 only
   -2,  --ssh2             force ssh version 2 only
   -4,  --ipv4             enable IPv4 (order of precedence)
   -6,  --ipv6             enable IPv6 (order of precedence)
   -b,  --batch            batch output
   -c,  --client-audit     starts a server on port 2222 to audit client
                               software config (use -p to change port;
                               use -t to change timeout)
        --conn-rate-test=N[:max_rate]  perform a connection rate test (useful
                                       for collecting metrics related to
                                       susceptibility of the DHEat vuln).
                                       Testing is conducted with N concurrent
                                       sockets with an optional maximum rate
                                       of connections per second.
   -d,  --debug            Enable debug output.
        --dheat=N[:kex[:e_len]]    continuously perform the DHEat DoS attack
                                   (CVE-2002-20001) against the target using N
                                   concurrent sockets.  Optionally, a specific
                                   key exchange algorithm can be specified
                                   instead of allowing it to be automatically
                                   chosen.  Additionally, a small length of
                                   the fake e value sent to the server can
                                   be chosen for a more efficient attack (such
                                   as 4).
   -g,  --gex-test=<x[,y,...]>  dh gex modulus size test
   -j,  --json             JSON output (use -jj to enable indents)
   -l,  --level=<level>    minimum output level (info|warn|fail)
   -L,  --list-policies    list all the official, built-in policies. Use with -v
                               to view policy change logs.
        --lookup=<alg1,alg2,...>    looks up an algorithm(s) without
                                    connecting to a server
   -m,  --manual           print the man page (Docker, PyPI, Snap, and Windows
                                    builds only)
   -M,  --make-policy=<policy.txt>  creates a policy based on the target server
                                    (i.e.: the target server has the ideal
                                    configuration that other servers should
                                    adhere to)
   -n,  --no-colors        disable colors
   -p,  --port=<port>      port to connect
   -P,  --policy=<"policy name" | policy.txt>  run a policy test using the
                                                   specified policy
        --skip-rate-test   skip the connection rate test during standard audits
                               (used to safely infer whether the DHEat attack
                               is viable)
   -t,  --timeout=<secs>   timeout (in seconds) for connection and reading
                               (default: 5)
   -T,  --targets=<hosts.txt>  a file containing a list of target hosts (one
                                   per line, format HOST[:PORT])
        --threads=<threads>    number of threads to use when scanning multiple
                                   targets (-T/--targets) (default: 32)
   -v,  --verbose          verbose output
  • if both IPv4 and IPv6 are used, order of precedence can be set by using either -46 or -64.
  • batch flag -b will output sections without header and without empty lines (implies verbose flag).
  • verbose flag -v will prefix each line with section type and algorithm name.
  • an exit code of 0 is returned when all algorithms are considered secure (for a standard audit), or when a policy check passes (for a policy audit).

Basic server auditing:

ssh-audit localhost
ssh-audit ::1
ssh-audit [::1]:222

To run a standard audit against many servers (place targets into servers.txt, one on each line in the format of HOST[:PORT]):

ssh-audit -T servers.txt

To audit a client configuration (listens on port 2222 by default; connect using ssh -p 2222 anything@localhost):

ssh-audit -c

To audit a client configuration, with a listener on port 4567:

ssh-audit -c -p 4567

To list all official built-in policies (hint: use resulting policy names with -P/--policy):

ssh-audit -L

To run a policy audit against a server:

ssh-audit -P ["policy name" | path/to/server_policy.txt] targetserver

To run a policy audit against a client:

ssh-audit -c -P ["policy name" | path/to/client_policy.txt]

To run a policy audit against many servers:

ssh-audit -T servers.txt -P ["policy name" | path/to/server_policy.txt]

To create a policy based on a target server (which can be manually edited):

ssh-audit -M new_policy.txt targetserver

To run the DHEat CPU exhaustion DoS attack (CVE-2002-20001) against a target using 10 concurrent sockets:

ssh-audit --dheat=10 targetserver

To run the DHEat attack using the diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha256 key exchange algorithm:

ssh-audit --dheat=10:diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha256 targetserver

To run the DHEat attack using the diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha256 key exchange algorithm along with very small but non-standard packet lengths (this may result in the same CPU exhaustion, but with many less bytes per second being sent):

ssh-audit --dheat=10:diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha256:4 targetserver


Server Standard Audit Example

Below is a screen shot of the standard server-auditing output when connecting to an unhardened OpenSSH v5.3 service: screenshot

Server Policy Audit Example

Below is a screen shot of the policy auditing output when connecting to an un-hardened Ubuntu Server 20.04 machine (hint: use -L/--list-policies to see names of built-in policies to use with -P/--policy): screenshot

After applying the steps in the hardening guide (see below), the output changes to the following: screenshot

Client Standard Audit Example

Below is a screen shot of the client-auditing output when an unhardened OpenSSH v7.2 client connects: client_screenshot

Hardening Guides

Guides to harden server & client configuration can be found here:

Pre-Built Packages

Pre-built packages are available for Windows (see the Releases page), PyPI, Snap, and Docker:

To install from PyPI:

$ pip3 install ssh-audit

To install the Snap package:

$ snap install ssh-audit

To install from Dockerhub:

$ docker pull positronsecurity/ssh-audit

(Then run with: docker run -it --rm -p 2222:2222 positronsecurity/ssh-audit

The status of various other platform packages can be found below (via Repology):

Packaging status

Web Front-End

For convenience, a web front-end on top of the command-line tool is available at


v3.3.0-dev (???)

  • Added built-in policies for Ubuntu 24.04 LTS server and client, and OpenSSH 9.8.
  • Added IPv6 support for DHEat and connection rate tests.
  • Added TCP port information to JSON policy scan results; credit Fabian Malte Kopp.
  • Added LANcom LCOS server recognition and Ed448 key extraction; credit Daniel Lenski.
  • Fixed crash when running with -P and -T options simultaneously.
  • Fixed host key tests from only reporting a key type at most once despite multiple hosts supporting it; credit Daniel Lenski.

v3.2.0 (2024-04-22)

  • Added implementation of the DHEat denial-of-service attack (see --dheat option; CVE-2002-20001).
  • Expanded filter of CBC ciphers to flag for the Terrapin vulnerability. It now includes more rarely found ciphers.
  • Fixed parsing of ecdsa-sha2-nistp* CA signatures on host keys. Additionally, they are now flagged as potentially back-doored, just as standard host keys are.
  • Gracefully handle rare exceptions (i.e.: crashes) while performing GEX tests.
  • The built-in man page (-m, --manual) is now available on Docker, PyPI, and Snap builds, in addition to the Windows build.
  • Snap builds are now architecture-independent.
  • Changed Docker base image from python:3-slim to python:3-alpine, resulting in a 59% reduction in image size; credit Daniel Thamdrup.
  • Added built-in policies for Amazon Linux 2023, Debian 12, OpenSSH 9.7, and Rocky Linux 9.
  • Built-in policies now include a change log (use -L -v to view them).
  • Custom policies now support the allow_algorithm_subset_and_reordering directive to allow targets to pass with a subset and/or re-ordered list of host keys, kex, ciphers, and MACs. This allows for the creation of a baseline policy where targets can optionally implement stricter controls; partial credit yannik1015.
  • Custom policies now support the allow_larger_keys directive to allow targets to pass with larger host keys, CA keys, and Diffie-Hellman keys. This allows for the creation of a baseline policy where targets can optionally implement stricter controls; partial credit Damian Szuberski.
  • Color output is disabled if the NO_COLOR environment variable is set (see
  • Added 1 new key exchange algorithm: gss-nistp384-sha384-*.
  • Added 1 new cipher:

v3.1.0 (2023-12-20)

  • Added test for the Terrapin message prefix truncation vulnerability (CVE-2023-48795).
  • Dropped support for Python 3.7 (EOL was reached in June 2023).
  • Added Python 3.12 support.
  • In server policies, reduced expected DH modulus sizes from 4096 to 3072 to match the online hardening guides (note that 3072-bit moduli provide the equivalent of 128-bit symmetric security).
  • In Ubuntu 22.04 client policy, moved host key types and ssh-ed25519 to the end of all certificate types.
  • Updated Ubuntu Server & Client policies for 20.04 and 22.04 to account for key exchange list changes due to Terrapin vulnerability patches.
  • Re-organized option host key types for OpenSSH 9.2 server policy to correspond with updated Debian 12 hardening guide.
  • Added built-in policies for OpenSSH 9.5 and 9.6.
  • Added an additional_notes field to the JSON output.

v3.0.0 (2023-09-07)

  • Results from concurrent scans against multiple hosts are no longer improperly combined; bug discovered by Adam Russell.
  • Hostname resolution failure no longer causes scans against multiple hosts to terminate unexpectedly; credit Dani Cuesta.
  • Algorithm recommendations resulting from warnings are now printed in yellow instead of red; credit Adam Russell.
  • Added failure, warning, and info notes to JSON output (note that this results in a breaking change to the banner protocol, "enc", and "mac" fields); credit Bareq Al-Azzawi.
  • Docker Makefile now creates multi-arch builds for amd64, arm64, and armv7; credit Sebastian Cohnen.
  • Fixed crash during GEX tests.
  • Refined GEX testing against OpenSSH servers: when the fallback mechanism is suspected of being triggered, perform an additional test to obtain more accurate results.
  • The color of all notes will be printed in green when the related algorithm is rated good.
  • Prioritized host key certificate algorithms for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS client policy.
  • Marked all NIST K-, B-, and T-curves as unproven since they are so rarely used.
  • Added built-in policy for OpenSSH 9.4.
  • Added 12 new host keys: ecdsa-sha2-curve25519, ecdsa-sha2-nistb233, ecdsa-sha2-nistb409, ecdsa-sha2-nistk163, ecdsa-sha2-nistk233, ecdsa-sha2-nistk283, ecdsa-sha2-nistk409, ecdsa-sha2-nistp224, ecdsa-sha2-nistp192, ecdsa-sha2-nistt571, ssh-dsa, x509v3-sign-rsa-sha256.
  • Added 15 new key exchanges:,,,,,,, kexAlgoDH14SHA1, kexAlgoDH1SHA1, kexAlgoECDH256, kexAlgoECDH384, kexAlgoECDH521, sm2kep-sha2-nistp256,,
  • Added 8 new ciphers:, cast128-12-cbc, cast128-12-cfb, cast128-12-ecb, cast128-12-ofb, des-cfb, des-ecb, des-ofb.
  • Added 14 new MACs: cbcmac-3des, cbcmac-aes, cbcmac-blowfish, cbcmac-des, cbcmac-rijndael, cbcmac-twofish, hmac-sha256-96, md5, md5-8, ripemd160, ripemd160-8, sha1, sha1-8, umac-128.

v2.9.0 (2023-04-29)

  • Dropped support for Python 3.6, as it reached EOL at the end of 2021.
  • Added Ubuntu Server & Client 22.04 hardening policies.
  • Removed experimental warning tag from
  • Updated CVE database; credit Alexandre Zanni.
  • Added -g and --gex-test for granular GEX modulus size tests; credit Adam Russell.
  • Snap packages now print more user-friendly error messages when permission errors are encountered.
  • JSON 'target' field now always includes port number; credit tomatohater1337.
  • JSON output now includes recommendations and CVE data.
  • Mixed host key/CA key types (i.e.: RSA host keys signed with ED25519 CAs, etc.) are now properly handled.
  • Warnings are now printed for 2048-bit moduli; partial credit Adam Russell.
  • SHA-1 algorithms now cause failures.
  • CBC mode ciphers are now warnings instead of failures.
  • Generic failure/warning messages replaced with more specific reasons (i.e.: 'using weak cipher' => 'using broken RC4 cipher').
  • Updated built-in policies to include missing host key size information.
  • Added built-in policies for OpenSSH 8.8, 8.9, 9.0, 9.1, 9.2, and 9.3.
  • Added 33 new host keys:,,,,,, null, pgp-sign-dss, pgp-sign-rsa, spki-sign-dss, spki-sign-rsa,,,,,, ssh-rsa-sha2-256, ssh-rsa-sha2-512,,,,,, x509v3-ecdsa-sha2-, x509v3-sign-dss-sha1,,,,, x509v3-sign-rsa-sha1,,,
  • Added 46 new key exchanges:, diffie-hellman_group17-sha512,,, ecdh-sha2-1.2.840.10045.3.1.1, ecdh-sha2-1.2.840.10045.3.1.7, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-, ecdh-sha2-4MHB+NBt3AlaSRQ7MnB4cg==, ecdh-sha2-5pPrSUQtIaTjUSt5VZNBjg==, ecdh-sha2-9UzNcgwTlEnSCECZa7V1mw==, ecdh-sha2-D3FefCjYoJ/kfXgAyLddYA==, ecdh-sha2-h/SsxnLCtRBh7I9ATyeB3A==, ecdh-sha2-m/FtSAmrV4j/Wy6RVUaK7A==, ecdh-sha2-mNVwCXAoS1HGmHpLvBC94w==, ecdh-sha2-qCbG5Cn/jjsZ7nBeR7EnOA==, ecdh-sha2-qcFQaMAMGhTziMT0z+Tuzw==, ecdh-sha2-VqBg4QRPjxx1EXZdV0GdWQ==, ecdh-sha2-wiRIU8TKjMZ418sMqlqtvQ==, ecdh-sha2-zD/b3hu/71952ArpUG4OjQ==, ecmqv-sha2, gss-*, gss-curve25519-sha256-*, gss-curve448-sha512-*, gss-gex-sha1-*, gss-gex-sha256-*, gss-group14-sha1-*, gss-group14-sha256-*, gss-group15-sha512-*, gss-group16-sha512-*, gss-group17-sha512-*, gss-group18-sha512-*, gss-group1-sha1-*, gss-nistp256-sha256-*, gss-nistp384-sha256-*, gss-nistp521-sha512-*,,
  • Added 28 new ciphers: 3des-cfb, 3des-ecb, 3des-ofb, blowfish-cfb, blowfish-ecb, blowfish-ofb,,,,,,, cast128-cfb, cast128-ecb, cast128-ofb,, idea-cfb, idea-ecb, idea-ofb,,,,,,, twofish-cfb, twofish-ecb, twofish-ofb
  • Added 5 new MACs:,,,, hmac-whirlpool.

v2.5.0 (2021-08-26)

  • Fixed crash when running host key tests.
  • Handles server connection failures more gracefully.
  • Now prints JSON with indents when -jj is used (useful for debugging).
  • Added MD5 fingerprints to verbose output.
  • Added -d/--debug option for getting debugging output; credit Adam Russell.
  • Updated JSON output to include MD5 fingerprints. Note that this results in a breaking change in the 'fingerprints' dictionary format.
  • Updated OpenSSH 8.1 (and earlier) policies to include rsa-sha2-512 and rsa-sha2-256.
  • Added OpenSSH v8.6 & v8.7 policies.
  • Added 3 new key exchanges: gss-gex-sha1-eipGX3TCiQSrx573bT1o1Q==, gss-group1-sha1-eipGX3TCiQSrx573bT1o1Q==, and gss-group14-sha1-eipGX3TCiQSrx573bT1o1Q==.
  • Added 3 new MACs: hmac-ripemd160-96, AEAD_AES_128_GCM, and AEAD_AES_256_GCM.

v2.4.0 (2021-02-23)

  • Added multi-threaded scanning support.
  • Added built-in Windows manual page (see -m/--manual); credit Adam Russell.
  • Added version check for OpenSSH user enumeration (CVE-2018-15473).
  • Added deprecation note to host key types based on SHA-1.
  • Added extra warnings for SSHv1.
  • Added built-in hardened OpenSSH v8.5 policy.
  • Upgraded warnings to failures for host key types based on SHA-1.
  • Fixed crash when receiving unexpected response during host key test.
  • Fixed hang against older Cisco devices during host key test & gex test.
  • Fixed improper termination while scanning multiple targets when one target returns an error.
  • Dropped support for Python 3.5 (which reached EOL in Sept. 2020).
  • Added 1 new key exchange:

v2.3.1 (2020-10-28)

  • Now parses public key sizes for and host key types.
  • Flag as a failure due to SHA-1 hash.
  • Fixed bug in recommendation output which suppressed some algorithms inappropriately.
  • Built-in policies now include CA key requirements (if certificates are in use).
  • Lookup function (--lookup) now performs case-insensitive lookups of similar algorithms; credit Adam Russell.
  • Migrated pre-made policies from external files to internal database.
  • Split single 3,500 line script into many files (by class).
  • Added support; credit Ganden Schaffner.
  • Added 1 new cipher:

v2.3.0 (2020-09-27)

  • Added new policy auditing functionality to test adherence to a hardening guide/standard configuration (see -L/--list-policies, -M/--make-policy and -P/--policy). For an in-depth tutorial, see
  • Created new man page (see ssh-audit.1 file).
  • 1024-bit moduli upgraded from warnings to failures.
  • Many Python 2 code clean-ups, testing framework improvements, pylint & flake8 fixes, and mypy type comments; credit Jürgen Gmach.
  • Added feature to look up algorithms in internal database (see --lookup); credit Adam Russell.
  • Suppress recommendation of token host key types.
  • Added check for use-after-free vulnerability in PuTTY v0.73.
  • Added 11 new host key types: ssh-rsa1,, ssh-gost2001, ssh-gost2012-256, ssh-gost2012-512, spki-sign-rsa, ssh-ed448, x509v3-ecdsa-sha2-nistp256, x509v3-ecdsa-sha2-nistp384, x509v3-ecdsa-sha2-nistp521, x509v3-rsa2048-sha256.
  • Added 8 new key exchanges: diffie-hellman-group1-sha256, kexAlgoCurve25519SHA256, Curve25519SHA256, gss-group14-sha256-, gss-group15-sha512-, gss-group16-sha512-, gss-nistp256-sha256-, gss-curve25519-sha256-.
  • Added 5 new ciphers: blowfish, AEAD_AES_128_GCM, AEAD_AES_256_GCM,,
  • Added 3 new MACs:, hmac-sha3-224,

v2.2.0 (2020-03-11)

  • Marked host key type ssh-rsa as weak due to practical SHA-1 collisions.
  • Added Windows builds.
  • Added 10 new host key types: ecdsa-sha2-, x509v3-sign-dss, x509v3-sign-rsa,, x509v3-ssh-dss, x509v3-ssh-rsa,,,, and
  • Added 18 new key exchanges:,,,,,, ecdh-sha2-curve25519, ecdh-sha2-nistb233, ecdh-sha2-nistb409, ecdh-sha2-nistk163, ecdh-sha2-nistk233, ecdh-sha2-nistk283, ecdh-sha2-nistk409, ecdh-sha2-nistp192, ecdh-sha2-nistp224, ecdh-sha2-nistt571, gss-gex-sha1-, and gss-group1-sha1-.
  • Added 9 new ciphers: camellia128-cbc, camellia128-ctr, camellia192-cbc, camellia192-ctr, camellia256-cbc, camellia256-ctr, aes128-gcm, aes256-gcm, and chacha20-poly1305.
  • Added 2 new MACs: aes128-gcm and aes256-gcm.

v2.1.1 (2019-11-26)

  • Added 2 new host key types:,
  • Added 2 new ciphers: des, 3des.
  • Added 3 new PuTTY vulnerabilities.
  • During client testing, client IP address is now listed in output.

v2.1.0 (2019-11-14)

  • Added client software auditing functionality (see -c / --client-audit option).
  • Added JSON output option (see -j / --json option; credit Andreas Jaggi).
  • Fixed crash while scanning Solaris Sun_SSH.
  • Added 9 new key exchanges: gss-group1-sha1-toWM5Slw5Ew8Mqkay+al2g==, gss-gex-sha1-toWM5Slw5Ew8Mqkay+al2g==, gss-group14-sha1-, gss-group14-sha1-toWM5Slw5Ew8Mqkay+al2g==, gss-group14-sha256-toWM5Slw5Ew8Mqkay+al2g==, gss-group15-sha512-toWM5Slw5Ew8Mqkay+al2g==, diffie-hellman-group15-sha256, ecdh-sha2-, curve448-sha512.
  • Added 1 new host key type: ecdsa-sha2-
  • Added 4 new ciphers: idea-cbc, serpent128-cbc, serpent192-cbc, serpent256-cbc.
  • Added 6 new MACs:,, hmac-ripemd,,,

v2.0.0 (2019-08-29)

  • Forked from (development was stalled, and developer went MIA).
  • Added RSA host key length test.
  • Added RSA certificate key length test.
  • Added Diffie-Hellman modulus size test.
  • Now outputs host key fingerprints for RSA and ED25519.
  • Added 5 new key exchanges:,,, diffie-hellman-group16-sha256, diffie-hellman-group17-sha512.
  • Added 3 new encryption algorithms: des-cbc-ssh1, blowfish-ctr, twofish-ctr.
  • Added 10 new MACs: hmac-sha2-56, hmac-sha2-224, hmac-sha2-384, hmac-sha3-256, hmac-sha3-384, hmac-sha3-512, hmac-sha256,, hmac-sha512,
  • Added command line argument (-t / --timeout) for connection & reading timeouts.
  • Updated CVEs for libssh & Dropbear.

v1.7.0 (2016-10-26)

  • implement options to allow specify IPv4/IPv6 usage and order of precedence
  • implement option to specify remote port (old behavior kept for compatibility)
  • add colors support for Microsoft Windows via optional colorama dependency
  • fix encoding and decoding issues, add tests, do not crash on encoding errors
  • use mypy-lang for static type checking and verify all code

v1.6.0 (2016-10-14)

  • implement algorithm recommendations section (based on recognized software)
  • implement full libssh support (version history, algorithms, security, etc)
  • fix SSH-1.99 banner recognition and version comparison functionality
  • do not output empty algorithms (happens for misconfigured servers)
  • make consistent output for Python 3.x versions
  • add a lot more tests (conf, banner, software, SSH1/SSH2, output, etc)
  • use Travis CI to test for multiple Python versions (2.6-3.5, pypy, pypy3)

v1.5.0 (2016-09-20)

  • create security section for related security information
  • match and output assigned CVE list and security issues for Dropbear SSH
  • implement full SSH1 support with fingerprint information
  • automatically fallback to SSH1 on protocol mismatch
  • add new options to force SSH1 or SSH2 (both allowed by default)
  • parse banner information and convert it to specific software and OS version
  • do not use padding in batch mode
  • several fixes (Cisco sshd, rare hangs, error handling, etc)


  • implement batch output option
  • implement minimum output level option
  • fix compatibility with Python 2.6


  • implement SSH version compatibility feature
  • fix wrong mac algorithm warning
  • fix Dropbear SSH version typo
  • parse pre-banner header
  • better errors handling


  • use OpenSSH 7.3 banner
  • add new key-exchange algorithms


  • use OpenSSH 7.2 banner
  • additional warnings for OpenSSH 7.2
  • fix OpenSSH 7.0 failure messages
  • add rijndael-cbc failure message from OpenSSH 6.7


  • multiple additional warnings
  • support for none algorithm
  • better compression handling
  • ensure reading enough data (fixes few Linux SSH)


  • Dropbear SSH support


  • initial version