Time to move Rancid to a newer VM again, this time it’s Ubuntu 20. Hit a snag when I tried a test clogin run:

$ clogin myrouter
Unable to negotiate with port 22: no matching key exchange method found.  Their offer: diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha1,diffie-hellman-group14-sha1

OpenSSH removed SHA-1 from the defaults a while back, which makes sense since the migration to SHA-2 began several years ago. So looks like SSH is trying to use SHA-2 but the Cisco Router is defaulting to SHA-1, and something has to give in order for negotiation to succeed.

My first thought was to tell the Cisco router to use SHA-2, and this is possible for the MAC setting:

Router(config)#ip ssh server algorithm mac ?
  hmac-sha1      HMAC-SHA1 (digest length = key length = 160 bits)
  hmac-sha1-96   HMAC-SHA1-96 (digest length = 96 bits, key length = 160 bits)
  hmac-sha2-256  HMAC-SHA2-256 (digest length = 256 bits, key length = 256 bits)
  hmac-sha2-512  HMAC-SHA2-512 (digest length = 512 bits, key length = 512 bits

Router(config)#ip ssh server algorithm mac hmac-sha2-256 hmac-sha2-512
Router(config)#do sh ip ssh | inc MAC       
MAC Algorithms:hmac-sha2-256,hmac-sha2-512

But not for key exchange, which apparently only supports SHA-1:

Router(config)#ip ssh server algorithm kex ?
  diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha1  DH_GRPX_SHA1 diffie-hellman key exchange algorithm
  diffie-hellman-group14-sha1         DH_GRP14_SHA1 diffie-hellman key exchange algorithm

Thus, the only option is to change the setting on the client. SSH has CLI options for Cipher and Mac:

-c : sets cipher (encryption) list.

-m: sets mac (authentication) list

But the option for Key Exchange can only be configured via the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file with this line:

KexAlgorithms +diffie-hellman-group14-sha1

I wanted to change the setting only for Rancid and not SSH in general, hoping that Cisco adds SHA-2 key exchange soon. I found out it is possible to set SSH options in the .cloginrc file. The solution is this:

add  sshcmd  *  {ssh\  -o\ KexAlgorithms=+diffie-

Clogin is now successful:

$ clogin myrouter
spawn ssh -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group14-sha1 -c aes128-ctr,aes128-cbc,3des-cbc -x -l myusername myrouter

By the way, I stayed away from diffie-hellman-group-exchange-sha1 as it’s considered insecure, whereas diffie-hellman-group14-sha1 was considered deprecated but still widely deployed and still “strong enough”, probably thanks to its 2048-bit key length.

Sidenote: this only affects Cisco IOS-XE devices. The Cisco ASA ships with this in the default configuration:

ssh key-exchange group dh-group14-sha256