Set SSH Client Alive Interval

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Description

SSH allows administrators to set a network responsiveness timeout interval. After this interval has passed, the unresponsive client will be automatically logged out.

To set this timeout interval, edit the following line in /etc/ssh/sshd_config as follows:

ClientAliveInterval 300

The timeout interval is given in seconds. For example, have a timeout of 10 minutes, set interval to 600.

If a shorter timeout has already been set for the login shell, that value will preempt any SSH setting made in /etc/ssh/sshd_config. Keep in mind that some processes may stop SSH from correctly detecting that the user is idle.

Rationale

Terminating an idle ssh session within a short time period reduces the window of opportunity for unauthorized personnel to take control of a management session enabled on the console or console port that has been let unattended.

Remediation

Shell script

The following script can be run on the host to remediate the issue.

#!/bin/bash

# Remediation is applicable only in certain platforms
if [ ! -f /.dockerenv ] && [ ! -f /run/.containerenv ]; then

sshd_idle_timeout_value='300'


if [ -e "/etc/ssh/sshd_config" ] ; then
    
    LC_ALL=C sed -i "/^\s*ClientAliveInterval\s\+/Id" "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
else
    touch "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
fi
# make sure file has newline at the end
sed -i -e '$a\' "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"

cp "/etc/ssh/sshd_config" "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak"
# Insert at the beginning of the file
printf '%s\n' "ClientAliveInterval $sshd_idle_timeout_value" > "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
cat "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak" >> "/etc/ssh/sshd_config"
# Clean up after ourselves.
rm "/etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak"

else
    >&2 echo 'Remediation is not applicable, nothing was done'
fi

Warning

SSH disconnecting unresponsive clients will not have desired effect without also configuring ClientAliveCountMax in the SSH service configuration.