I have successfully set up ssh and sshd under cygwin to allow myself to login from A to B and B to A (both A and B are Vista machines).

To do this, I have had to set StrictModes no in my /etc/sshd_config.

If I set StrictModes to yes, key-based login is bypassed, and ssh(d) prompts for a password (which then works). In the event log, I get this message:

sshd: PID 3684: Authentication refused: bad ownership or modes for file /home/brent/.ssh/authorized_keys

I have two sub-questions:

  1. Is there any point in using StrictModes yes under cygwin/Vista? (I imagine that under a true Unix this will provide additional security.)
  2. Assuming yes, precisely what ownership and mode should I be using? The current listing for the authorized_keys is:

    -rwxrwxrwx 1 Administrators None 847 Sep 5 14:38 .ssh/authorized_keys

After a little more research:

It looks like /home/brent/, /home/brent/.ssh/, and /home/brent/.ssh/authorized_keys all need to meet the following criteria:

  • Not group- or world-writable (minimum chmod 755)
  • Owner: brent (in this case) -- I don't know whether this means "this user" or "any user with certain status or privileges" or "the user who installed cygwin" or "the user who ran sshd-host-config".

So it works, but I'd still appreciate precise comments on why, and on whether it's correct.


In my experience on normal unix systems, your authorized_keys file needs to be octal permissions 600 so that only the user who created it (and root) could be able to read it to prevent other users from seeing the file. I assume it's the same in cygwin. Strict mode is just telling you to change the permissions as you found out.

So from previous experience, I'd say you were correct. As for owner, it should be the person who owns the files, probably meaning 'this user' in your context.

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