PermitRootLogin no still allows root login via SSH

I have updated PermitRootLogin in /etc/ssh/sshd_config to no and issued a service ssh restart (multiple times) and I can still login via SSH as root using a public key. This should be blocked correct?

I have read the related Q&As here and various others from a Google Search. As far as I can tell I’ve done the right thing but I can still login.

root@infra:~# cat /etc/ssh/sshd_config  | grep PermitRootLogin
PermitRootLogin no
# the setting of "PermitRootLogin yes

Restarting ssh returns no errors, etc.

root@infra:~# service ssh restart

PasswordAuthentication is also set to no (although root never had a password – started with a pub key installation) and for good measure UsePAM is set to no.

Love any suggestions!


I had removed the entire /root/.ssh directory for good measure and root was still able to login.

Now whenever I spool up a new server I just do a restart after updated sshd_config and removing /root/.ssh (the whole thing for good measure).

Once that’s is done all is well.

Really strange.

Do you have an ssh key authorising your logins? If so, ssh key auths override the PermitRootLogin function. Try removing /root/.ssh/authorized_keys.

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Accepted Answer

FYI re. a solution. Restarting the service didn’t cause the new settings to take effect. Rebooting the server did. No idea why that is the case.


By default on new Ubuntu servers, the PermitRootLogin is set to yes. So you can search only for PermitRootLogin in the sshd_config.

To disable root login you have to change this line:

PermitRootLogin yes


PermitRootLogin no

However keep in mind that by default, on Ubuntu, password authentication is already set to no:

PasswordAuthentication no

Once you make a change to the sshd_conf file you need to also restart the SSH service:

systemctl restart sshd

Hope that this helps!

for me, i had

   ControlMaster auto
   ControlPath ~/.ssh/sockets/%r@%h-%p

set in my ~/.ssh/config deleting the control path directory fixed the issu

This comment has been deleted

OK, even stranger … I delete the .ssh directory from the root user using my sudo user. I can still login in as root on that machine even after a service ssh restart.