Simplifying FedRAMP Compliance with Teleport
Jun 27
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API Architecture


The Auth API uses mTLS to authenticate a client-server connection. Therefore, the client must provide TLS certificates signed by the Auth server to access the API. These are easy to create and provide using Credential loaders.


The client certificates signed by the Auth server will be associated with a specific user. This user will be used to authorize API requests made by the client.

It is recommended to make a new user and role for each client. This makes it easier to track client actions, as well as carefully control client permissions.

For example, if your client needs to use client.GetRole(), the user must have permission to perform the read action on the role resource. You should create a user and role with the minimum permissions required.

When running Teleport in production, you should adhere to the following best practices to avoid security incidents:

  • Avoid using sudo in production environments unless it's necessary.
  • Create new, non-root, users and use test instances for experimenting with Teleport.
  • Run Teleport's services as a non-root user unless required. Only the SSH Service requires root access. Note that you will need root permissions (or the CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE capability) to make Teleport listen on a port numbered < 1024 (e.g. 443).
  • Follow the principle of least privilege. Don't give users permissive roles when more a restrictive role will do. For example, don't assign users the built-in access,editor roles, which give them permissions to access and edit all cluster resources. Instead, define roles with the minimum required permissions for each user and configure access requests to provide temporary elevated permissions.
  • When you enroll Teleport resources—for example, new databases or applications—you should save the invitation token to a file. If you enter the token directly on the command line, a malicious user could view it by running the history command on a compromised system.

You should note that these practices aren't necessarily reflected in the examples used in documentation. Examples in the documentation are primarily intended for demonstration and for development environments.

Copy and Paste the below and run on the Teleport Auth server.

cat > api-role.yaml <<EOFkind: rolemetadata: name: api-rolespec: allow: rules: - resources: ['role'] verbs: ['read'] deny: node_labels: '*': '*'version: v5EOF

Create role

tctl create -f api-role.yaml

Add user and login via web proxy

tctl users add api-user --roles=api-role

See our roles documentation for more details on role based access control.


The Teleport Go client requires credentials in order to authenticate with a Teleport cluster.

Credentials are created by using Credential loaders, which gather certificates and data generated by Teleport CLIs.

Since there are several Credential loaders to choose from with distinct benefits, here's a quick breakdown:

  • Profile credentials are the easiest to get started with. All you have to do is log in to your device with tsh login. Your Teleport proxy address and credentials will automatically be located and used.
  • Identity File credentials are the most well-rounded in terms of usability, functionality, and customizability. Identity files can be generated through tsh login, tctl auth sign, or with Machine ID.
  • Dynamic Identity File credentials are Identity File credentials with support for reloading credentials from disk. This makes them appropriate for Machine ID integrations, as you can reload the credentials when Machine ID rotates the underlying identity files.
  • Key pair credentials have a much simpler implementation than the other Credentials listed and may feel more familiar. These are good for authenticating clients hosted directly on the auth server.
  • TLS credentials leave everything up to the client user. This is mostly used internally, but some advanced users may find it useful.

Here are some more specific details to differentiate them by:

TypeProfile CredentialsIdentity CredentialsKey Pair CredentialsTLS Credentials
Ease of useEasyEasyMediumHard
Supports long-lived certificatesYes, but must be configured on server sideYesYesYes
Supports SSH connectionsYesYes (6.1+)NoNo
Automatic Proxy Address discoveryYesNoNoNo
CLI usedtshtctl/tshtctl-
Available in6.1+6.0+6.0+6.0+

See the Credentials type on for more information and examples for Credentials and Credential Loaders.

Client connection

The API client makes requests through an open connection to the Teleport Auth server.

If the Auth server is isolated behind a Proxy Server, a reverse tunnel connection can be made using SSH certificates signed by the auth server. You can either provide the server's reverse tunnel address directly or provide the web proxy address and have the client automatically retrieve the reverse tunnel address.


While all Credential loaders support mTLS connections, only some support SSH connections (see the chart above).

Take a look at this client constructor example to see what these connection options look like.