FileZilla Uses PuTTY’s Registry Fingerprint Cache

Today I figured out that FileZilla uses PuTTY‘s registry key (HKCU\SOFTWARE\SimonTatham\PuTTY\SshHostKeys) to cache SSH fingerprints.

This morning, I connected to my server over SFTP with FileZilla, and got this prompt:

That’s unusual. I logged in over SSH, and my SSH client did not show a warning. I checked the fingerprint on my server, and it matched the one presented by FileZilla.

What’s going on here? I started to search through FileZilla configuration files (XML files) looking for the cached fingerprints, and found nothing. Then I went to the registry, but there’s no FileZilla entry under my HKCU Software key.

Then I’m taking a look with ProcMon to figure out where FileZilla caches its fingerprints. After some searching, I found the answer:

FileZilla uses PuTTY’s registry keys!

And indeed, when I start FileZilla again and allow it to cache the key, it appears in PuTTY’s registry keys.

One last check: I modified the registry entry and started FileZilla again:

And now FileZilla warns me that the key is different. That confirms that FileZilla reads and writes PuTTY’s registry fingerprint cache.

So that answered my question: “Why did FileZilla warn me this morning?” “Because the key was not cached”.

But then I was left with another question: “Why is the key no longer cached, because it was cached?”

Well, I started to remember that some days ago today, I had been experimenting with PuTTY’s registry keys. I most likely deleted that key (PuTTY is not my default SSH client). I verified the last-write timestamp for PuTTY’s registry key, and indeed, 4 days ago it was last written to.


Thanks to Nicolas for pointing out that fzsftp is based on PuTTY:

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