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SSH Authentication with ADFS


Active Directory as an SSO provider for SSH authentication

This guide will cover how to configure Active Directory Federation Services ADFS to be a single sign-on (SSO) provider to issue SSH credentials to specific groups of users. When used in combination with role based access control (RBAC) it allows SSH administrators to define policies like:

  • Only members of "DBA" group can SSH into machines running PostgreSQL.
  • Developers must never SSH into production servers.
  • ... and many others.
Version Warning

This guide requires a commercial edition of Teleport.

Enable ADFS Authentication

First, configure Teleport auth server to use ADFS authentication instead of the local user database. Update /etc/teleport.yaml as shown below and restart the teleport daemon.

        type: saml

Configure ADFS

You'll need to configure ADFS to export claims about a user (Claims Provider Trust in ADFS terminology) and you'll need to configure AD FS to trust Teleport (a Relying Party Trust in ADFS terminology).

For Claims Provider Trust configuration you'll need to specify at least the following two incoming claims: Name ID and Group. Name ID should be a mapping of the LDAP Attribute E-Mail-Addresses to Name ID. A group membership claim should be used to map users to roles (for example to separate normal users and admins).

Name ID Configuration Group Configuration

In addition if you are using dynamic roles (see below), it may be useful to map the LDAP Attribute SAM-Account-Name to Windows account name and create another mapping of E-Mail-Addresses to UPN.

WAN Configuration UPN Configuration

You'll also need to create a Relying Party Trust, use the below information to help guide you through the Wizard. Note, for development purposes we recommend using https://localhost:3080/v1/webapi/saml/acs as the Assertion Consumer Service (ACS) URL, but for production you'll want to change this to a domain that can be accessed by other users as well.

  • Create a claims aware trust.
  • Enter data about the relying party manually.
  • Set the display name to something along the lines of "Teleport".
  • Skip the token encryption certificate.
  • Select "Enable support for SAML 2.0 Web SSO protocol" and set the URL to https://localhost:3080/v1/webapi/saml/acs.
  • Set the relying party trust identifier to https://localhost:3080/v1/webapi/saml/acs as well.
  • For access control policy select "Permit everyone".

Once the Relying Party Trust has been created, update the Claim Issuance Policy for it. Like before make sure you send at least Name ID and Group claims to the relying party (Teleport). If you are using dynamic roles, it may be useful to map the LDAP Attribute SAM-Account-Name to "Windows account name" and create another mapping of E-Mail-Addresses to "UPN".

Lastly, ensure the user you create in Active Directory has an email address associated with it. To check this open Server Manager then "Tools -> Active Directory Users and Computers" and select the user and right click and open properties. Make sure the email address field is filled out.

Create Teleport Roles

Lets create two Teleport roles: one for administrators and the other is for normal users. You can create them using tctl create {file name} CLI command or via the Web UI.

# admin-role.yaml
kind: "role"
version: "v3"
  name: "admin"
    max_session_ttl: "8h0m0s"
    logins: [ root ]
      "*": "*"
      - resources: ["*"]
        verbs: ["*"]
# user-role.yaml
kind: "role"
version: "v3"
  name: "dev"
    # regular users can only be guests and their certificates will have a TTL of 1 hour:
    max_session_ttl: "1h"
    # only allow login as either ubuntu or the 'windowsaccountname' claim
    logins: [ '{{external[""]}}', ubuntu ]
      "access": "relaxed"

This role declares:

  • Devs are only allowed to login to nodes labelled with access: relaxed label.
  • Developers can log in as ubuntu user
  • Notice {{external[""]}} login. It configures Teleport to look at "" ADFS claim and use that field as an allowed login for each user. Also note the double quotes (") and square brackets ([]) around the claim name - these are important.
  • Developers also do not have any "allow rules" i.e. they will not be able to see/replay past sessions or re-configure the Teleport cluster.

Next, create a SAML connector resource:

# This example connector uses SAML to authenticate against
# Active Directory Feneration Services (ADFS)
kind: saml
version: v2
  name: adfs_connector
  # display allows to set the caption of the "login" button
  # in the Web interface
  # Using the work 'Microsoft' will show the windows symbol in the UI.
  display: Microsoft

  # "adfs" provider setting tells Teleport that this SAML connector uses ADFS
  # as a provider
  provider: adfs

  # entity_descriptor XML can either be copied into connector or fetched from a URL
  entity_descriptor: |
    <EntityDescriptor xmlns:md="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:metadata">
  # entity_descriptor_url is commented out, as only one is required to setup adfs.
  # if you're running Teleport in FIPS mode entity_descriptor_url with Azure AD may
  # fail
  #entity_descriptor_url: ""

  # issuer typically comes from the "entity_descriptor" but can be overridden here
  issuer: "foo"
  # sso typically comes from the "entity_descriptor" but can be overridden here
  sso: "bar"
  # cert typically comes from the "entity_descriptor" but can be overridden here
  cert: |
    -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----

  acs: "https://<cluster-url>"
  # if "service_provider_issuer" is not set, comes from "acs"
  service_provider_issuer: "https://<cluster-url>"
  # if "audience" is not set, comes from "acs"
  audience: "https://<cluster-url>"

  # if "signing_key_pair" is not set, teleport will generate a self signed
  # signing key pair
    private_key: |
      -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
      -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
      -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
      -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----

    - name: ""
      value: "Administrators"
      roles: ["editor"]
    - name: ""
      value: "Users"
      roles: ["access"]

The acs field should match the value you set in ADFS earlier and you can obtain the entity_descriptor_url from ADFS under "ADFS -> Service -> Endpoints -> Metadata".

The attributes_to_roles is used to map attributes to the Teleport roles you just created. In our situation, we are mapping the "Group" attribute whose full name is with a value of "admins" to the "admin" role. Groups with the value "users" is being mapped to the "users" role.

Export the Signing Key

For the last step, you'll need to export the signing key:

$ tctl saml export adfs

Save the output to a file named saml.crt, return back to ADFS, open the "Relying Party Trust" and add this file as one of the signature verification certificates.


The Web UI will now contain a new button: "Login with MS Active Directory". The CLI is the same as before:

$ tsh login

This command will print the SSO login URL (and will try to open it automatically in a browser).


Teleport can use multiple SAML connectors. In this case a connector name can be passed via tsh login --auth=connector_name


Teleport only supports sending party initiated flows for SAML 2.0. This means you can not initiate login from your identity provider, you have to initiate login from either the Teleport Web UI or CLI.


If you get "access denied errors" the number one place to check is the audit log on the Teleport auth server. It is located in /var/lib/teleport/log by default and it will contain the detailed reason why a user's login was denied.

Some errors (like filesystem permissions or misconfigured network) can be diagnosed using Teleport's stderr log, which is usually available via:

$ sudo journalctl -fu teleport

If you wish to increase the verbosity of Teleport's syslog, you can pass --debug flag to teleport start command.

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