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How to log in to Amazon EC2 using PEM format from SecureCRT

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SecureCRT requires both a private and a public key. Use the supplied key.pem file from EC2 here as your private key only in Windows for SecureCRT rename it to "key." with no file type. Copy this down to a directory on your local Windows machine use it as Your Identity file in SCRT. Now we need a public key. You can create that below by following the bellow steps. Make sure that file has the same name as key. but ends in file type .pub so in other words Save that also to your Windows PC in the same directory as the private key file "key.". Note the name does not have to be "key" but both have to be named the same except for the file type.

SecureCRT 6.2 and above:

Support for Amazon EC2 keys has been implemented in SecureCRT 6.5 beta 2 and later.

To use the Amazon EC2 private key:

  1. Create an SSH2 session
  2. Specify PublicKey as the authentication method in Session Options / SSH2
  3. Set the Amazon EC2 key as the private key to use for the session
    1. Select PublicKey in Session Options / SSH2
    2. Click the Properties button
    3. Select Use session public key setting
    4. Browse to or enter the path to the EC2 private key in the entry box under Use identity or certificate file
  4. Connect to the EC2 server

Older versions of SecureCRT (I used 5.5.3 for example):

With access to OpenSSH either via Linux, unix or Cygwin:

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 $ cp ec2-key.pem "ec2-key." # Copy for use as private key in SCRT

 $ ssh-keygen -p -f "ec2-key." # Remove the passphrase if there is one

 $ ssh-keygen -e -f "ec2-key." > # Create the public key file


Now copy the private key file "ec2-key." and the public key file "" file to your PC in the directory used by SecureCRT or a new location. In my case I store AWS keys in C:\aws. It is impertive you save the private key file on the PC with only a dot "." at the end or SCRT will fail to recognize it. In SCRT set the SSH->PublicKey->Properties->"Use identity" to the file "/path/to/ec2-key.". Set user as root (typically some images have non-root log-ins such as "ec2-user"). Once you login use the "sudo bash" command to gain privileges).

Using OpenSSH:

No conversion is needed with OpenSSH

 $ ssh -i /path/to/ec2-key.pem root@ec2-instance-ip


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Page last modified on May 14, 2013, at 01:33 PM EST