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Require Smartcard authentication (for local users)

https://github.com/SSSD/sssd/issues/4670

Problem statement

By default SSSD tries to determine what authentication methods are available for a user and prompts accordingly. This is primarily done by figuring out the supported authentication methods on the server. E.g. the krb5 provider will use the available pre-authentication methods to determine how the user can authenticate. If a user should only and always use Smartcard authentication the long term password can be removed on the server side so that the user can only user PKINIT for authentication. For FreeIPA domains there are authentication indicators to requires specific authentication methods for services.

Currently SSSD does not handle the general authentication of local user because this is still done by pam_unix. However SSSD offers the support for Smartcard authentication for local user. To be flexible and offer the user the most suitable prompting during authentication SSSD currently only prompt for a Smartcard PIN if a Smartcard is inserted with certificates which can mapped to the user trying to log in. This means that local users cannot easily be forced to use Smartcard authentication where the user is prompted to insert a Smartcard and SSSD waits until a suitable card is inserted.

Use cases

Local users

Force local users to use Smartcard authentication

Active Directory

Although Active Directory offers the ‘Smart card is required for interactive logon’ option it might not be suitable for all use cases because it disables password based authentication which might still be needed for certain services. Having an option on the client to require Smartcard authentication for specific services would help here as well.

Overview of the solution

There are two places where an option to enforce Smartcard authentication can be set, the SSSD configuration file sssd.conf or the option list of the pam_sss PAM module.

In general we try to avoid adding options to the PAM module to keep the PAM module as dumb and simple as possible and do all processing in SSSD’s PAM responder and the backends. But in the given case options for the PAM module offer greater flexibility with a less complex configuration. To keep the pam_sss PAM module still simple, it will forward the provided option to SSSD and check the reply if Smartcard authentication is possible or return an error.

Besides and option to require Smartcard authentication and option to only check if Smartcard authentication is available will be added as well to allow more flexible PAM configurations.

Implementation details

p11_child

p11_child needs a new option to wait until a card is available if no suitable card is available. Since the PAM responder will kill p11_child if a timeout expires an option is needed to let the PAM responder wait longer to allow the child to wait longer.

If a slot with with the CKF_REMOVABLE_DEVICE flag was found p11_child can check if the PKCS#11 call C_WaitForSlotEvent is implemented and use it. If the PKCS#11 does not implement this call p11_child can call C_GetSlotInfo in regular interval until a token is present or it is kill by the PAM responder. NSS provides the PK11_WaitForTokenEvent call to handle this.

If there is no slot with the CKF_REMOVABLE_DEVICE flag set p11_child has to run C_Finalize-C_Initialize cycles to be able to discover new slots. This is e.g. needed for Yubikey USB devices which are from the PKCS#11 perspective Smartcard (tokens) and reader (slot) in a single device.

pam_sss

The PAM module pam_sss will get two new flag options:

  • try_cert_auth
    Try to use certificate based authentication, i.e. authentication with a Smartcard or similar devices. If a Smartcard is available and the service is allowed for Smartcard authentication the use will be prompted for a PIN and the certificate based authentication will continue.

    If no Smartcard is available or certificate based authentication is not allowed for the current service PAM_AUTHINFO_UNAVAIL is returned.

  • require_cert_auth
    Wait until a Smartcard suitable for authentication is available and ask the user to insert a Smartcard.

    If no Smartcard is available or certificate based authentication is not allowed for the current service PAM_AUTHINFO_UNAVAIL is returned.

The PAM module will forward the flags to the PAM responder in a 32bit integer which will handled the request accordingly. If the reply of the PAM responder does not contain the needed information to prompt the user for a Smartcard PIN the PAM module will return PAM_AUTHINFO_UNAVAIL.

PAM responder

The PAM responder will get a new option to increase the waiting time for p11_child if the require_cert_auth flag was received from the client. To receive the flags the PAM responder must be prepared to handle to 32bit integer send by the client containing the flags.

Configuration changes

p11_child

p11_child is mentioned here for completeness, since it is an internal helper this change is not directly relevant for users.

New option:

  • --wait_for_card
    Wait until a Smartcard (token) is available in a reader (slot)

pam_sss

New options:

  • try_cert_auth
    see above

  • require_cert_auth
    see above

PAM responder:

New option:

  • p11_wait_for_card_timeout
    If Smartcard authentication is required how many extra seconds in addition to p11_child_timeout should the PAM responder wait until a Smartcard is inserted.

    Default: 60 (seconds)

How to test

To test the feature the PAM configuration had to be modified and pam_sss has to be added with the require_cert_auth or try_cert_auth option at a suitable place.

Allow Smartcard authentication for local users

To allow Smartcard authentication for local user but use password authentication as a fallback if no Smartcard is available the following snippet might be added to the PAM configuration:

....
auth        [default=2 success=ok] pam_localuser.so
auth        sufficient    pam_sss.so try_cert_auth
auth        [success=done ignore=ignore default=die] pam_unix.so try_first_pass
....

Require Smartcard authentication for local users

To require Smartcard authentication for local user the following snippet might be added to the PAM configuration:

....
auth        [default=2 success=ok] pam_localuser.so
auth        required    pam_sss.so require_cert_auth
auth        required    pam_deny.so
....

Authors

  • Sumit Bose <sbose@redhat.com>