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What protocol am I using to connect and authenticate to remote  servers?

I remotely connect to virtual Linux box as follows:  From my windows 10 computer, I invoke WinSCP.  From WinSCP, I open puTTy terminal.  
Then, I can clone source code from servers such as GitLab and GitHub.

What protocol am I using to connect to GitLab.  Is it SSH?

From puTTy terminal, I entered following command to see if existing ssh keys are present:

$  ls -al ~/.ssh

existing ssh keys
I can connect to GitLab and clone source code but there are no ssh keys in my home directory?  How is it possible to connect to remote servers without ssh keys?
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Network Administrator
Commented:
You are using SSH, but some systems do not allow you to have access to any SSH config files and they are buried out of reach.

But since you are using winscp to initiate the putty connection, winscp has the credentials used in its configs, and it is just passing to putty by api or commandline.
You are using ssh passwords instead of keys.  The .ssh folder may not exist yet, so you have to create it first.  Default sshd_config files in most linux sshd installs allow for both passwords and keys.  Someone generally has to block keys if they want to prevent passphrase access.  That doesn't mean you can't use passphrases.  You just have to set it up yourself first.

Author

Commented:
>> The .ssh folder may not exist yet, so you have to create it first.
Why do I need to create it when there is no problem.  I can clone source code from gitlab.

>> You just have to set it up yourself first.
Why do I need to setup anything when there is no problem.  I can clone source code from gitlab.
Git is not using ssh.  It uses its own protocol.  There is no overlap to ssh.
Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
different tools have their own protocols.
You entry into the system is by ssh, from the system access to other resources is independent of how you got on the system.

Author

Commented:
@serialband
I don't have enough knowledge to understand your comments.
Distinguished Expert 2019
Commented:
See the following.

https://git-scm.com/book/en/v2/Git-on-the-Server-The-Protocols
There are variations of implementation and use.

Ssh keys in hone directory are only needed for public key logins on remote side.

your question is open to interpretation and has multiple possible answers .

Author

Commented:
Thank you for great responses and providing link to great git book.