(credit: Guilherme Tavares)

A critical bug that can leak secret cryptographic keys has just just been fixed in OpenSSH, one of the more widely used implementations of the secure shell (SSH) protocol.

The vulnerability resides only in the version end users use to connect to servers and not in versions used by servers. A maliciously configured server could exploit it to obtain the contents of the connecting computer’s memory, including the private encryption key used for SSH connections. The bug is the result of code that enables an experimental roaming feature in OpenSSH versions 5.4 to 7.1

“The matching server code has never been shipped, but the client code was enabled by default and could be tricked by a malicious server into leaking client memory to the server, including private client user keys,” OpenSSH officials wrote in an advisory published Thursday. “The authentication of the server host key prevents exploitation by a man-in-the-middle, so this information leak is restricted to connections to malicious or compromised servers.”

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Bug that can leak crypto keys just fixed in widely used OpenSSH