Powered by Plus3 IT Systems

OpenSSH RSAv2 Keys Don’t Work (EL8)


The OpenSSH Daemon shipped with the most-recent versions of RHEL 8 (and derivatives), implements the deprecation of SHA1-signed SSH keys for key-based authentication that’s now part of OpenSSH 8.8 and higher. As such, any SSH keys used for key-based authentication will need to be signed using a SHA2 algorithm (SHA-256 or SHA-512).


For users of self-managed keys, this means that one needs to present an SHA-256 or SHA-512 signed OpenSSH key when using RSAv2 keys for key-based logins. Such keys can be generated in a couple ways:

  • Use either rsa-sha2-256 or rsa-sha2-512 when using ssh-keygen’s -t option for generating a new key

  • Use ssh-keygen on a FIPS-enabled, EL8+ operating system

  • Use a CSP’s key-generation tool (AWS’s commercial region’s EC2 key-generation capability is known to create conformant RSAv2 keys)

For users of organizationally-issued SSH keys - be they bare files or as delivered via a centrally-managed SmartCard (such as a PIV or CAC) or other token - it will be necessary for the key-user to work with their organization to ensure that updated, conformant keys are issued.


Depending on the SSH client, the key may silently fail to work or it may print an error. If an error is printed, it will usually be something like:

Load key "/path/to/key-file": error in libcrypto

With or without the printing of the error, the key will be disqualified and the server will request the client move on to the next-available authentication-metho (usually password).

If one is able to use other means to access a system and view its logs, one will usually find errors similar to:

Feb 09 12:10:50 ip-0a00dc73 sshd[2939]: input_userauth_request: invalid user ec2-user [preauth]


Feb 09 12:10:50 ip-0a00dc73 sshd[2939]: input_userauth_pubkey: key type ssh-rsa not in PubkeyAcceptedKeyTypes [preauth]

In the /var/log/secure logs.

Note: The deprecated SHA-1 issuse is not a watchmaker issue. It is generically applicable to Red Hat’s OpenSSH version on EL8-bsed systems. However, because most people will encounter the issue after having run watchmaker, we opted to include it in this project’s “Gotchas” documentation for the benefit of watchmaker-users that might come here for answers