Scaling Privileged Access for Modern Infrastructure: Real-World Insights
Apr 25
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Teleport as a SAML identity provider

How to use Teleport as an identity provider

This guide details an example on how to use Teleport as an identity provider to authenticate to external services.

Prerequisites

  • To check that you can connect to your Teleport cluster, sign in with tsh login, then verify that you can run tctl commands using your current credentials. tctl is supported on macOS and Linux machines. For example:
    tsh login --proxy=teleport.example.com --user=[email protected]
    tctl status

    Cluster teleport.example.com

    Version 15.2.2

    CA pin sha256:abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678

    If you can connect to the cluster and run the tctl status command, you can use your current credentials to run subsequent tctl commands from your workstation. If you host your own Teleport cluster, you can also run tctl commands on the computer that hosts the Teleport Auth Service for full permissions.
  • If you're new to SAML, consider reviewing our SAML Identity Provider Reference before proceeding.
  • User with permission to create service provider resource. The preset editor role has this permission.
  • SAML application (also known as a SAML service provider or SP) for testing. For this guide, we'll be using samltest.id as a service provider for Teleport's SAML IdP.

Step 1/3. Add a service provider to Teleport

The minimum configuration values required to add a service provider are:

  1. Entity ID: The SAML metadata endpoint of the service provider.
  2. ACS URL: The endpoint where users will be redirected after SAML authentication. ACS URL is also referred to as SAML SSO URL.

The following saml_idp_service_provider spec is a reference for adding samltest.id to Teleport:

kind: saml_idp_service_provider
metadata:
  # The friendly name of the service provider. This is used to manage the
  # service provider as well as in identity provider initiated SSO.
  name: samltest-id
spec:
  # entity_id is the metadata endpoint of service provider
  # that serves entity descriptor, aka SP metadata.
  entity_id: https://samltest.id/saml/sp
  # acs_url is the endpoint where users will be redirected after
  # SAML authentication.
  acs_url: https://samltest.id/idp/profile/SAML2/POST/SSO
version: v1

Add the spec to Teleport using tctl:

tctl create saml-sp.yaml

SAML IdP service provider 'samltest-id' has been created.

The above configuration shows creating service provider without an entity descriptor. In this scenario, Teleport first tries to fetch an entity descriptor by querying the entity_id endpoint. If an entity descriptor is not found at that endpoint, Teleport will generate a new entity descriptor with the given entity_id and acs_url values.

If you need more control over the entity descriptor, you may also add it directly to the saml_idp_service_provider spec.

First download the service provider metadata from samltest.id as saml-sp.xml:

curl -o saml-sp.xml https://samltest.id/saml/sp

Using the template below, create a file called saml-sp.yaml. Assign the metadata you just downloaded to the entity_descriptor field in the saml_idp_service_provider object:

kind: saml_idp_service_provider
metadata:
  # The friendly name of the service provider. This is used to manage the
  # service provider as well as in identity provider initiated SSO.
  name: samltest-id
spec:
  # The entity_descriptor is the service provider XML.
  entity_descriptor: |
    <md:EntityDescriptor xmlns:md="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:metadata"...
version: v1

Add this to Teleport using tctl:

tctl create saml-sp.yaml

SAML IdP service provider 'samltest-id' has been created.

Important

If an entity descriptor is provided, it's content takes preference over values provided in entity_id and acs_url.

Teleport only tries to fetch or generate entity descriptor when service provider is created for the first time. Subsequent updates require an entity descriptor to be present in the service provider spec. As such, when updating service provider, you should first fetch the spec that is stored in Teleport and only then edit the configuration.

get service provider spec

tctl get saml_idp_service_provider/<service provider name> > service-provider.yml

Step 2/3. Configure the service provider to recognize Teleport's SAML IdP

First, obtain your Teleport SAML IdP metadata by navigating to https://<proxy-address>/enterprise/saml-idp/metadata. Save it in an easy to remember file name like teleport-metadata.xml.

Now navigate to https://samltest.id and click on "Upload Metadata." Next, choose to upload teleport-metadata.xml.

Successful upload

Step 3/3. Verify samltest.id login works

To verify everything works, navigate back to samltest.id's home page and select "Test Your IdP." From there, enter the entity ID of Teleport's identity provider, which is the same as the metadata URL: https://<proxy-address>/enterprise/saml-idp/metadata and click "Go!"

Test the IdP

If you are not already logged into Teleport, you will be prompted to login. Once you are logged in, you should be re-routed to a success page on samltest.id.

Successful login

This has verified service provider initiated SSO. To verify identity provider initiated SSO, navigate to https://<proxy-address>/enterprise/saml-idp/login/samltest-id, where samltest-id is the friendly name of the service provider object created earlier. You should be redirected to the same successful login page seen earlier.

Optional: Creating dedicated role to manage service provider

For production, we recommend creating a dedicated role to manage service provider.

To create a dedicated role, first, ensure you are logged into Teleport as a user that has permissions to read and modify saml_idp_service_provider objects. The default editor role has access to this already, but in case you are using a more customized configuration, create a role called sp-manager.yaml with the following contents:

kind: role
metadata:
  name: sp-manager
spec:
  allow:
    rules:
    - resources:
      - saml_idp_service_provider
      verbs:
      - list
      - create
      - read
      - update
      - delete
version: v7

Create the role with tctl:

tctl create sp-manager.yaml
role 'saml-idp-service-provider-manager' has been created

Next, add the role to your user.

Assign the sp-manager role to your Teleport user by running the appropriate commands for your authentication provider:

  1. Retrieve your local user's roles as a comma-separated list:

    ROLES=$(tsh status -f json | jq -r '.active.roles | join(",")')
  2. Edit your local user to add the new role:

    tctl users update $(tsh status -f json | jq -r '.active.username') \ --set-roles "${ROLES?},sp-manager"
  3. Sign out of the Teleport cluster and sign in again to assume the new role.

  1. Retrieve your github authentication connector:

    tctl get github/github --with-secrets > github.yaml

    Note that the --with-secrets flag adds the value of spec.signing_key_pair.private_key to the github.yaml file. Because this key contains a sensitive value, you should remove the github.yaml file immediately after updating the resource.

  2. Edit github.yaml, adding sp-manager to the teams_to_roles section.

    The team you should map to this role depends on how you have designed your organization's role-based access controls (RBAC). However, the team must include your user account and should be the smallest team possible within your organization.

    Here is an example:

      teams_to_roles:
        - organization: octocats
          team: admins
          roles:
            - access
    +       - sp-manager
    
  3. Apply your changes:

    tctl create -f github.yaml
  4. Sign out of the Teleport cluster and sign in again to assume the new role.

  1. Retrieve your saml configuration resource:

    tctl get --with-secrets saml/mysaml > saml.yaml

    Note that the --with-secrets flag adds the value of spec.signing_key_pair.private_key to the saml.yaml file. Because this key contains a sensitive value, you should remove the saml.yaml file immediately after updating the resource.

  2. Edit saml.yaml, adding sp-manager to the attributes_to_roles section.

    The attribute you should map to this role depends on how you have designed your organization's role-based access controls (RBAC). However, the group must include your user account and should be the smallest group possible within your organization.

    Here is an example:

      attributes_to_roles:
        - name: "groups"
          value: "my-group"
          roles:
            - access
    +       - sp-manager
    
  3. Apply your changes:

    tctl create -f saml.yaml
  4. Sign out of the Teleport cluster and sign in again to assume the new role.

  1. Retrieve your oidc configuration resource:

    tctl get oidc/myoidc --with-secrets > oidc.yaml

    Note that the --with-secrets flag adds the value of spec.signing_key_pair.private_key to the oidc.yaml file. Because this key contains a sensitive value, you should remove the oidc.yaml file immediately after updating the resource.

  2. Edit oidc.yaml, adding sp-manager to the claims_to_roles section.

    The claim you should map to this role depends on how you have designed your organization's role-based access controls (RBAC). However, the group must include your user account and should be the smallest group possible within your organization.

    Here is an example:

      claims_to_roles:
        - name: "groups"
          value: "my-group"
          roles:
            - access
    +       - sp-manager
    
  3. Apply your changes:

    tctl create -f oidc.yaml
  4. Sign out of the Teleport cluster and sign in again to assume the new role.