Secure Communication with a Console Server that Supports SSHv2 Encryption

A console server can provide network administrators with many convenient tools that simplify the task of managing network elements located at off-site data centers and remote equipment racks. When a device at a distant network equipment site suddenly crashes and takes your network down with it, a console server allows out of band access to console port command functions on the malfunctioning device, and often eliminates the need for an expensive service call to the remote network site that would otherwise be required in order to address the problem in person.

Due to these out of band management functions, a console server is often considered to be a vital element in any network application that involves communication with distant network equipment. But addition to the importance of the out of band access provided by a console server, it’s also equally important that a console server supports adequate security features to ensure that communication with the console server is well protected from unauthorized access, and the best way to ensure that communication with the console server is secure, is to encrypt data and commands that are sent to and from the console server.

Given the fact that commands and data sent to the console server often include usernames, passwords and other potentially sensitive information, a high level encryption format such as SSHv2 is strongly recommended. SSHv2 provides an advanced level of encryption for communication with the console server, and is generally considered to be essentially unbreakable and undecipherable without a valid SSH key. In addition to providing a high level of encryption security, SSHv2 also supports the ability to provide users with a public SSH key, which enables streamlined connections to command mode, while still ensuring that data sent to and from the console server is adequately protected from unauthorized access.

When a critical network element at a remote network equipment cabinet malfunctions and takes down your network, a console server can often be a huge help in restoring network communication without the need for an expensive, time consuming service call. It pays to note though, that due to the power of the out of band management capabilities provided by a console server, a console server must support adequate security, authentication and encryption protocols in order to ensure that communication with the remote network equipment site remains safe from unauthorized access. When shopping for a console server, it pays to make certain to choose a console server product that supports encryption protocols such as SSHv2, as well as authentication protocols such as LDAP, Kerberos, TACACS+ and radius, plus adequate password security and other security features.

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