August 4, 2023

Understanding the Default SSH Port and Its Significance

Sanjana Kumari

In the world of cybersecurity, one of the fundamental aspects of safeguarding your systems and data is understanding how secure connections are established. Secure Shell, commonly known as SSH(Secure Shell ), is a cryptographic network protocol that allows users to securely manage and access remote systems over an unsecured network. SSH plays a pivotal role in ensuring data integrity, confidentiality, and authentication. In this article, we delve into the realm of SSH port numbers, particularly focusing on the default SSH port and its significance in the realm of cybersecurity.

Understanding SSH Port Numbers

To comprehend SSH port numbers, it’s essential to grasp the concept of ports in networking. In computer networking, ports serve as endpoints for communication. They allow different applications on a single device to establish network connections. Ports are categorized into two ranges: well-known ports (0-1023) and registered ports (1024-49151). SSH falls under the well-known port range.

The default SSH port number is 22. When a secure connection is initiated using SSH, the client and server communicate through this port. This default port simplifies the process, as both parties know where to connect without needing to specify a port number explicitly.

The Significance of SSH Port Number

While the default port number expedites connection establishment, it also poses security risks. Hackers often target well-known ports, including the default SSH port, to launch attacks. Port scanning is a common technique employed by malicious actors to discover open ports on a system. By using the default SSH port, you might inadvertently make your system susceptible to attacks.

Changing the default SSH port mitigates this risk. It adds an extra layer of security by making it harder for attackers to find the SSH service. Even if an attacker scans for open ports, they are less likely to stumble upon the non-standard SSH port. This simple change can significantly reduce the number of unauthorized access attempts.

Changing SSH Port Number

Changing the SSH port number is a proactive step towards enhancing your system’s security. Follow these steps to make the transition:

  1. Selecting a New Port: Choose a port number between 1024 and 49151 that is not already in use by another service.
  2. Editing SSH Configuration: Locate the SSH configuration file (usually located at /etc/ssh/sshd_config) and modify the Port directive to the chosen port number.
  3. Firewall Configuration: Update your firewall settings to allow incoming connections on the new SSH port.
  4. Testing the Configuration: Restart the SSH service and ensure you can establish a connection using the new port.

While changing the port number is effective, keep in mind that it’s not a foolproof solution. Some port scanning tools can still identify the SSH service, even on non-standard ports. Therefore, it’s crucial to combine port modification with other security measures.

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Common Misconceptions about SSH Port Numbers

There are several misconceptions surrounding SSH port numbers. Let’s debunk a few of them:

  1. Obscurity Equals Security: Relying solely on changing the port number is insufficient. True security comes from a combination of measures.
  2. Port Change Eliminates Risk: Changing the port reduces exposure, but determined attackers can still find the service.
  3. Port Number Equals Encryption: The port number used for SSH doesn’t dictate the encryption level; it only determines the communication endpoint.

SSH and Firewall Configurations

Firewalls play a crucial role in network security by controlling incoming and outgoing traffic. When changing the SSH port, ensure your firewall rules are adjusted accordingly. Allow incoming traffic on the new SSH port while blocking it on the default port. This setup ensures that only authorized users can access the SSH service.

Alternatives to Changing the Default Port

While changing the default port is an effective strategy, other measures can enhance SSH security:

  1. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Implement 2FA to require an additional verification layer, even if an attacker knows the port.
  2. Key-Based Authentication: Use SSH key pairs for authentication, reducing the reliance on passwords.
  3. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems: Employ IDS/IPS to monitor and respond to suspicious SSH activity.

Best Practices for SSH Security

To ensure robust SSH security, consider these best practices:

  1. Regular Updates: Keep your SSH software up to date to patch known vulnerabilities.
  2. Strong Authentication: Use strong passwords or, better yet, key-based authentication for SSH logins.
  3. Limit User Access: Only grant SSH access to authorized users, and disable root login.


In the intricate landscape of cybersecurity, understanding the nuances of SSH port numbers is an invaluable asset. While the default port provides convenience, it also presents risks. By comprehending the significance of SSH port numbers and implementing security measures like changing the default port, you fortify your systems against potential threats. Remember, true security encompasses a holistic approach, combining multiple layers of protection for a resilient defense against unauthorized access and cyberattacks.

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  1. Can I use any port number for SSH? While you have the flexibility to choose a port, ensure it falls within the registered port range (1024-49151) and doesn’t conflict with other services.

  2. Is changing the SSH port enough to stop all attacks? Changing the port is a proactive step, but it won’t guarantee complete immunity. It’s crucial to implement other security measures as well.

  3. Can I use key-based authentication with the default SSH port? Absolutely, key-based authentication can be used regardless of the port number and significantly enhances security.

  4. Do I need to restart my server after changing the SSH port? Yes, restarting the SSH service is necessary for the changes to take effect.

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