This is a common misunderstanding for the
PermitRootLogin feature. The
without-password option does not mean there is no authentication and anyone can get in without a password. All this option means is that logging in is only possible using a fallback method, such as public key authentication. Even if an attacker knows your root password, they will not be able to log in unless they have your private key.
It is actually better to use
without-password if you need to log in as root, since it ensures that the root account cannot be brute forced. If you were to log in as root with a password, it could be subject to being remotely attacked, whereas public key authentication ensures you can only log in with the proper credential files. This is better than logging in as a different user and using
su to elevate to root, as a compromise of that other user would result in a compromised root, since the user can monitor any keystrokes entered into its shell. This is explained in detail in the answer to Which is the safest way to get root privileges: sudo, su or login?.
If you do not need to have root, then using another, dedicated user would be fine. In this case, setting
PermitRootLogin no would be beneficial, as there is no reason to have root access if not required.