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The Top SSH Certificate Authorities Ranked

What are the best ssh certificate authorities for SSO to SSH
20 Apr 2024

Why SSH Certificates are Needed in a Zero-Trust World

Are You Still Relying on SSH Keys? Yikes! If yes, it’s high time to question the security comfort zone you’ve nestled into. SSH keys, once hailed as the pinnacle of secure remote access, are now under the scanner for their vulnerabilities. From notable breaches that left companies scrambling to patch their defenses, to the cumbersome management of keys at scale, the security landscape is littered with cautionary tales. This pivot in security dynamics propels forward-thinking developers to scout for modern, robust alternatives for remote access. Enter the era of zero trust SSH certificates, a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge from the pitfalls of SSH keys.

What You Need in an SSH Certificate Authority

As we navigate away from the traditional bastions of SSH keys, the question arises: What should you look for in an passwordless ssh authentication mechanism like an SSH Certificate Authority? Here’s a few things to consider when you’re doing your research…

Enhanced Security: Through mechanisms like short-lived certificates, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Ease of Management: A user-friendly platform that simplifies certificate issuance, renewal, and revocation processes.

Scalability: The capability to manage a burgeoning number of certificates without a dip in performance.

Cost-Efficiency: Offering a competitive pricing model without compromising on the quality of security features.

Major Players in the Market

The quest for a competent SSH Certificate Authority has led to the emergence of several notable players, each bringing its unique flavor to the table:


The default SSH client that is used by most distros, OpenSSH offers a way to create SSH Certificate using their command line. Favored for its open-source nature and wide adoption. What does this mean? It’s basically the DIY of SSH. Excellent for those who are willing to take-on the initiative and feel they have the requisite skills. The only drawback here is the exceptionally manual administration and management. You can see how to create SSH certificates with OpenSSH here.

EZSSH by Keytos

A newer, albeit sophisticated entrant that has quickly gained traction for its innovative approach. EZSSH distinguishes itself with a focus on automation, offering a seamless experience in managing SSH certificates, making it an attractive option for modern DevOps teams. EZSSH by Keytos introduces a modern approach to managing SSH access, offering a passwordless, Just In Time (JIT) SSH access solution that integrates seamlessly with Azure AD identity for hybrid cloud environments. It simplifies SSH access management by eliminating the need to manage, rotate, and remove SSH keys from hosts, leveraging short-term SSH certificates instead. This method ensures that only authenticated users gain access, enhancing security by limiting the potential damage from compromised keys and preventing brute force attacks.


SmallStep SSH CA, allows organizations to issue short-lived SSH certificates to users, enabling secure access to servers and services. SmallStep SSH CA is designed to simplify SSH certificate management, offering a command-line interface for certificate issuance. SmallStep SSH CA integrates with existing identity providers, such as Okta and Active Directory, to streamline user authentication and access control. SmallStep SSH CA also provides detailed audit logs and monitoring capabilities, allowing organizations to track SSH certificate usage and detect potential security incidents. SmallStep SSH CA is a cloud-native solution that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, making it a flexible option for organizations with diverse infrastructure requirements. While SmallStep SSH CA offers a great solution for organizations looking to enhance their SSH security, it may lack some of the advanced features and integrations needed by larger enterprises. Starting by their pricing model, it shows that it was designed for small implementations and will become very expensive as you scale up.

Netflix BLESS

BLESS (Bastion’s Lambda Ephemeral SSH Service) developed by Netflix operates as an AWS Lambda function designed to sign SSH public keys, offering a modern approach to securing SSH access. BLESS leverages SSH certificates, which are a secure and flexible way to authenticate users to SSH hosts, allowing restrictions for single use cases and generating short-lived certificates, thereby reducing the management overhead associated with traditional authorized_keys methods or managing private SSH keys directly. Netflix developed BLESS to align with its engineering culture of “freedom and responsibility,” aiming to provide its engineers with SSH access with minimal friction while maintaining a high security standard. BLESS runs on AWS Lambda, uses Amazon’s Key Management Service for encryption, and issues short-lived certificates, offering a more secure and manageable approach to SSH access. The obvious drawback here is that BLESS is an open-source project no longer maintained by Netflix. This means that while it is a great solution, it may not be the best choice for organizations looking for long-term support and updates.

Why is EZSSH the Best Choice for SSH CA?

Securing infrastructure access remains a paramount challenge for organizations worldwide. CISOs, constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions that bolster security without compromising on efficiency, may find an answer in EZSSH by Keytos. This platform stands out, not just for its robust security features, but also for its operational efficiencies and cost-effectiveness compared to other solutions on the market. When the dust settles, EZSSH by Keytos emerges as a frontrunner in the SSH Certificate Authority space. Its winning formula? A potent mix of automation, user-friendliness, and cutting-edge security features, all packaged within an attractive pricing model.

At its core, EZSSH embraces the Zero Trust security model, leveraging native Linux cryptographic libraries for authentication to minimize endpoint vulnerabilities. This approach ensures that trust is never assumed, significantly reducing the attack surface by requiring verification from everyone trying to access resources in the network. Such a stance on security aligns perfectly with modern cybersecurity principles, offering a solid foundation against both external and insider threats.

Operational efficiency is another pillar of EZSSH’s value proposition. Traditional SSH key management is notoriously cumbersome, involving the creation, distribution, rotation, and revocation of keys. EZSSH addresses this challenge head-on by utilizing short-term SSH certificates, thereby eliminating the significant overhead associated with managing SSH keys. This not only simplifies the administrative burden but also accelerates the onboarding process, freeing up valuable IT resources.

Integration with Azure AD further enhances EZSSH’s appeal, allowing organizations to leverage existing enterprise identities and security protocols for authentication. Coupled with each policy’s backing by its own HSM-backed Certificate Authority, EZSSH ensures the integrity of the authentication process and the security of keys. Such integration streamlines access control and audit trails, providing detailed logs that simplify compliance and forensic analysis.

EZSSH’s commitment to a user-friendly experience is evident in its offering of passwordless Just In Time (JIT) access. By issuing time-bound certificates, EZSSH not only enhances security but also improves the user experience, aligning with modern security practices that prioritize both efficiency and security.

When it comes to deployment and compatibility, EZSSH is designed for rapid deployment across multi-cloud environments without the need for agents on servers. Its compatibility with a broad range of environments and adherence to a Zero Trust framework make EZSSH a versatile solution suitable for diverse IT infrastructures.

Lastly, the cost and pricing structure of EZSSH are far superior to most alternatives in the market. With a focus on delivering value through security, efficiency, and ease of use, EZSSH provides organizations with a cost-effective solution to SSH access management. This pricing advantage, coupled with the operational efficiencies it offers, makes EZSSH an attractive choice for CISOs looking to optimize their cybersecurity investments.

EZSSH by Keytos represents a forward-thinking solution in the realm of SSH access management. Its robust security framework, operational efficiencies, seamless integration capabilities, and user-friendly approach, combined with a competitive pricing structure, position EZSSH as a standout choice for any organization aiming to enhance its security posture while maintaining operational agility.

Getting Started with EZSSH

Wrapping this up, diving into zero-trust and SSH certificate rotation might seem like a huge deal, especially with all the techy stuff you need to know. But hey, that’s where EZSSH by Keytos comes into play, making things a whole lot easier. It’s like having a buddy who knows all the ins and outs, helping you secure your systems without the headache. Plus, you’ll be ticking off all those compliance checkboxes like PCI DSS without breaking a sweat.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, no worries! We’ve got loads of resources to help you out. Our zero trust SSH documentation is packed with easy-to-follow guides, and our YouTube channel is full of helpful videos to get you up to speed. If you’d like to schedule some time to chat with one of our SSH Experts, we invite you to do so at your convenience using this link! We’re always happy to chat! It’s all about making security simple and accessible, so you can focus on what you do best. So, why not give our tools a try and see how easy securing your SSH can be? Trust us, it’s worth checking out!

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