How do I disable SSH login for the root user?


NOTE: In the following example, we are using admin for the username. This is just a example and can be replaced with any username you wish to use.

1. Add the user. In the following example, we will use the user name admin. The command adduser will automatically create the user, initial group, and home directory.

[root@root ~]# adduser admin
[root@root ~]# id admin
uid=10018(admin) gid=10018(admin) groups=10018(admin)

[root@root ~]# ls -lad /home/admin/
drwx------ 2 admin admin 4096 Jun 25 16:01 /home/admin/

2. Set the password for the admin user. When prompted, type and then retype the password.

[root@root ~]# passwd admin
Changing password for user admin.
New UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.
[root@root ~]#

3. SSH to the server with the new admin user and ensure that the login works.

[root@root ~]# ssh admin@my.ip.or.hostname
admin@my.ip.or.hostname's password:
[admin@admin ~]$

Adding the User to the Wheel Group

nano /etc/group

4. Verify that you can su (switch user) to root with the admin user.

[admin@admin ~]$ su -
[root@root ~]$ whoami

5. Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config with your favorite text editor.

[root@root ~]# nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Change this line:

#PermitRootLogin yes

Edit to this:

PermitRootLogin no

6. Ensure that you are logged into the box with another shell before restarting sshd to avoid locking yourself out of the server.

[root@root ~]# /etc/init.d/sshd restart
Stopping sshd: [ OK ]
Starting sshd: [ OK ]
[root@root ~]#

You will now be able to connect to your server via ssh with the admin user and then use the command su to switch to the root user.

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