With more and more computers installed in networked environments, it often becomes necessary to access hosts from a remote location. This normally means that a user sends login and password strings for authentication purposes. As long as these strings are transmitted as plain text, they could be intercepted and misused to gain access to that user account without the authorized user even knowing about it. Apart from the fact that this would open all the user's files to an attacker, the illegal account could be used to obtain administrator or root access or to penetrate other systems. In the past, remote connections were established with telnet, which offers no guards against eavesdropping in the form of encryption or other security mechanisms. There are other unprotected communication channels, like the traditional FTP protocol and some remote copying programs.
The SSH suite provides the necessary protection by encrypting the authentication strings (usually a login name and a password) and all the other data exchanged between the hosts. With SSH, the data flow could still be recorded by a third party, but the contents are encrypted and cannot be reverted to plain text unless the encryption key is known. So SSH enables secure communication over insecure networks, such as the Internet. The SSH flavor that comes with SUSE Linux Enterprise is OpenSSH.