gather SSH public keys from
ssh-keyscan is a utility for gathering the
public SSH host keys of a number of hosts. It was designed to aid in
building and verifying ssh_known_hosts files, the
format of which is documented in
ssh-keyscan provides a minimal
interface suitable for use by shell and perl scripts.
ssh-keyscan uses non-blocking socket I/O
to contact as many hosts as possible in parallel, so it is very efficient.
The keys from a domain of 1,000 hosts can be collected in tens of seconds,
even when some of those hosts are down or do not run
sshd(8). For scanning, one does not need login access to the machines
that are being scanned, nor does the scanning process involve any
The options are as follows:
ssh-keyscanto use IPv4 addresses only.
ssh-keyscanto use IPv6 addresses only.
- Request certificates from target hosts instead of plain keys.
- Print keys found as SSHFP DNS records. The default is to print keys in a format usable as a ssh(1) known_hosts file.
- Read hosts or “addrlist namelist” pairs from
file, one per line. If ‘-’ is supplied
instead of a filename,
ssh-keyscanwill read from the standard input. Input is expected in the format:
- Hash all hostnames and addresses in the output. Hashed names may be used normally by ssh(1) and sshd(8), but they do not reveal identifying information should the file's contents be disclosed.
- Connect to port on the remote host.
- Set the timeout for connection attempts. If timeout seconds have elapsed since a connection was initiated to a host or since the last time anything was read from that host, the connection is closed and the host in question considered unavailable. The default is 5 seconds.
- Specify the type of the key to fetch from the scanned hosts. The possible values are “dsa”, “ecdsa”, “ed25519”, or “rsa”. Multiple values may be specified by separating them with commas. The default is to fetch “rsa”, “ecdsa”, and “ed25519” keys.
- Verbose mode: print debugging messages about progress.
If an ssh_known_hosts file is constructed using
ssh-keyscan without verifying the keys, users will
be vulnerable to man in the
middle attacks. On the other hand, if the security model allows such
ssh-keyscan can help in the detection of
tampered keyfiles or man in the middle attacks which have begun after the
ssh_known_hosts file was created.
Print the RSA host key for machine hostname:
$ ssh-keyscan -t rsa hostname
Find all hosts from the file ssh_hosts which have new or different keys from those in the sorted file ssh_known_hosts:
$ ssh-keyscan -t rsa,dsa,ecdsa,ed25519 -f ssh_hosts | \ sort -u - ssh_known_hosts | diff ssh_known_hosts -
Using DNS to Securely Publish Secure Shell (SSH) Key Fingerprints, RFC 4255, 2006.
David Mazieres <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote the initial version, and Wayne Davison <email@example.com> added support for protocol version 2.