Telnet vs. SSH: What’s the Difference?

The Telnet protocol was used to access computers remotely, but it has since been superseded by SSH (Secure Shell). Despite their similarities, there are significant differences between the two protocols, so you need to understand these distinctions before choosing one over the other. Read on to learn about the main distinctions between Telnet and SSH, then make an informed decision about which protocol you should use.

What is Telnet?

Telnet is a protocol that was originally developed for use over the internet. It was designed to allow users to log onto remote computers using their computers. Telnet is still widely used today, especially for connecting to servers on the Internet. However, telnet is not secure and should never be used for any sensitive information. Security experts have found vulnerabilities in the telnet protocol that could expose your login credentials and other private data.


If you are looking for an alternative to telnet, we recommend you consider an ssh client like Putty or Terminal (Mac). These programs encrypt your connection so that no one can see what you type. In addition, some clients let you create passwords to protect your account even further by requiring the password before allowing access to the account.

What is SSH?

Secure Shell (SSH) is a network security protocol that provides data encryption and authentication between two computers. SSH is commonly used for remote access to computers, but it can also be used to connect to a server locally. SSH is much more secure than telnet, and it is recommended that you use SSH instead of telnet whenever possible. With SSH, the risk of being snooped on or hacked is significantly reduced because the connection is encrypted with keys.


If an intruder were to hack into your computer through telnet, they would not be able to see what you are typing because it would be encrypted in hexadecimal codes. With Telnet, however, hackers could see your credentials as soon as they log in since Telnet does not encrypt the connection.

Difference Between Telnet and SSH

Telnet is a protocol that was originally developed for use over the Internet. It is a simple text-based protocol that uses TCP/IP connections to transfer data between two computers. Telnet is not secure and should only be used if you have no other options.

A secure shell is a network protocol that provides encrypted communications between a client and server. It is commonly used for remote administration and file transfers. SSH is much more secure than telnet and should always be used whenever possible.

In short, the main difference between Telnet and SSH is that Telnet allows for unsecured communication while SSH uses encryption to secure all communications. Telnet also sends all data in plain text, making it easy for anyone to intercept and read your data. Conversely, SSH encrypts all data before sending it, making it much more difficult for someone to eavesdrop on your conversation.

Encryption Levels: Telnet vs. SSH

Both telnet and SSH offer encryption, but the level of encryption is different. Telnet uses a weak form of encryption that can easily be decoded, while SSH uses a strong form of encryption that is much more difficult to decode.

In addition, telnet sends your information in plain text, while SSH encrypts your information before sending it. This means that if someone were to intercept your telnet connection, they would be able to see everything you’re typing. However, with SSH, even if someone intercepted your connection, they wouldn’t be able to read anything.

Security Features: Telnet vs. SSH

When it comes to security, both telnet, and SSH use encryption to protect data being transmitted between a client and server. However, SSH uses stronger encryption algorithms, making it more secure. Additionally, with telnet, all data is sent in plain text, meaning it can be intercepted and read by anyone. With SSH, data is encrypted, so even if it is intercepted, it would be unreadable.

Finally, telnet does not support authentication, while SSH does. That means that the session on a telnet connection could potentially be hijacked by an attacker who pretends to be the user on the other end of the connection. In contrast, SSH offers two-factor authentication through public key cryptography where only you have access to your private key.

Data format: Telnet vs. SSH

While both telnet and SSH are used for remote access to servers, there are some key differences between the two protocols. For one, telnet is an unencrypted protocol, which means that any data sent over the connection can be intercepted by a third party. SSH, on the other hand, uses encryption to protect data in transit. Additionally, SSH provides authentication capabilities that telnet does not, making it more secure.

Authentication: Telnet vs. SSH

To connect to a remote host, you must first authenticate. This is done with a username and password. Telnet uses plain text authentication, meaning that your password is sent in clear text over the network. This is not secure and can be intercepted by anyone on the network. SSH uses public-key authentication, which is much more secure. With public-key authentication, you generate a pair of keys – a public key and a private key.

TCP/IP functionality: Telnet vs. SSH

Both Telnet and SSH are used to establish remote communication between two devices. They both use the TCP/IP protocol suite to provide this functionality. However, there are some key differences between the two protocols.

For example, when establishing a connection with SSH, it encrypts all data sent over the network with 128-bit AES encryption to prevent eavesdropping on transmissions. In contrast, Telnet does not encrypt any data that is sent over the network – meaning that anyone who intercepts packets of information can view passwords or other sensitive information being transmitted.


Though both Telnet and SSH are used for accessing remote devices, they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Telnet is typically faster and easier to set up, while SSH is more secure. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for speed, ease of use, or a connection that will work with most devices without installing additional software, then Telnet might be right for you. If you need something that provides a higher level of security or a connection that’s compatible with all operating systems (Windows or Mac), then SSH might be the better option.