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"The passphrase protects the private key, so creating a key without a passphrase means that anyone who manages to acquire the private key would be able to log in to remote servers with the credentials of the key owner."
The link goes on to talk about using keyring. Does anyone have thoughts or experience with that. I don't, but want to learn more.
Creating a key without a pass-phrase, according to what I've read (and it also makes sense), is a bad idea.
I guess I wouldn't call it a bad idea. The author of the article is correct, a private key without a passphrase is less secure than one with one. The security concern here is how safe you keep your private key. If you keep it on a secure box that you monitor for tampering, then not using a passphrase may be an acceptable security risk. If you keep it on a public library computer where it is accessible to the entire planet, then maybe not using a passphrase is a bad idea.
It really boils down to what task do you need to accomplish and what level of risk are you willing to accept. For the kind of automated tasks this thread is about, either you accept the risk of using a key without a passphrase or you accept the risk of having usernames, passwords or passphrases in a script or program where they might also be accessible.