Windows Identity

Windows Identity is an identity service that uses both Windows Authenticated Integration or manual user input to authenticate users. In cases where password input is required (Enroll or Password Change), the password is encrypted in the browser using the Gatekeeper's public key to send the encrypted password to the Gatekeeper.

NOTE
NTLM is a legacy protocol, which is only available to older Specops customers. New customers will have the identity service disabled by default, and will only be able to choose between Disabled or Kerberos.
NOTE
While you can see in Specops Authentication Web which protocol is activated, the settings can only be altered in the Gatekeeper Admin Tool. All instructions and mentions of settings and parameters below therefore refer to the Gatekeeper Admin Tool.

Windows Integrated Authentication allows users' Active Directory credentials to pass through their browser to a web server, sent hashed (NTLM) or encrypted (Kerberos). Configuring Integrated Authentication for the user will automatically authenticate the user with Windows Identity, and grant the Windows Identity authentication token.

Enabling Integrated Authentication

By default, Integrated Authentication is disabled for new customers. If you want to use Integrated Authentication, do the following:

    NOTE
    It is recommended to use the Group Managed Service Accounts account type during installation of Getekeepers. For more information, see the Group Managed Service Accounts information below.
  1. In the Gatekeeper Admin Tool, select Windows Identity.
  2. In the Integrated Authentication Settings field, click Edit.
  3. In the Select authentication protocol dropdown, select the protocol you want to use: NTLM or Kerberos.
    NOTE
    It is not recommended to use the NTLM protocol. NTLM is a legacy protocol that provides less security. Please consider using the Kerberos protocol instead.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Add the Integrated Authentication url to the Trusted Sites in Internet Options for every client.
    NOTE
    This can be done by adding the URL to the list of Trusted Sites in Windows Control Panel> Internet Options > Security Tab > Trusted Site > Site, then add the URL. It can also be done through the registry. More information on the latter can be found here. Note that the blogpost referenced here deals with a different URL, although the process is the same.

NTLM


Windows New Technology LAN Manager (NTLM) is a suite of security protocols offered by Microsoft to authenticate users’ identity and protect the integrity and confidentiality of their activity. At its core, NTLM is a single sign on (SSO) tool that relies on a challenge-response protocol to confirm the user without requiring them to submit a password.

Configuration for NTLM consists of trusting the URL that is shown in the Gatekeeper Admin Tool under the Windows Identity tab. It can be rolled out as a GPO, per computer or per user.

NOTE
NTLM is a legacy suite of Microsoft security protocols. NTLM has been superseded by the newer and more secure Kerberos protocol. If you are still ussing NTLM, please consider using the Kerberos protocol instead.

Parameters

Parameter Description
Active Provider Indicates the protocol currently used for this Gatekeeper
Integrated Authentication url The authentication URL that should be added to trusted sites for all clients

Kerberos


Kerberos is a computer network security protocol that authenticates service requests between two or more trusted hosts across an untrusted network, like the internet. It uses secret-key cryptography and a trusted third party for authenticating client-server applications and verifying users' identities.

Kerberos ensures that only authorized users can access the network resources. Additionally, it provides AAA security: Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting.

Kerberos provides a more secure and efficient authentication protocol than its legacy counterpart, NTLM, enabling stronger encryption, and reduced risk of password attacks.

In order to use Kerberos, it is required to use a Group Managed Service Account (gMSA). More information on gMSA can be found here.

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Group Managed Service Account (gMSA)

Group Managed Service Account (gMSA) is in many ways similar to Managed Service Accounts. It has automatic password management, a long password that is automatically periodically updated. The differencebetween Managed Service Accounts and gMSA is that multiple machines can use the same account. So, if you are running a service in a server farm and you want to use Integrated Authentication, you should use gMSA. When the client is requesting a Kerberos ticket to access the service it doesn’t matter which instance on the server farm processes the request.

In order to get gMSA to work in the Active Directory, and a prerequisite for using gMSA during Gatekeeper installation, the domain administrator has to create the Key Distribution Service root key. That can be done by logging in to a domain controller (Windows Server 2012 or later) and running “Add-KdsRootKey -EffectiveImmediately” from PowerShell that has the Windows PowerShell Active Directory module installed.

NOTE
Even though the flag -EffectiveImmediately is used, it can take some time for the DC to create the KDS root key. Get-KdsRootKey can be used in order to verify that the KDS root key has been created.

More information on gMSA: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/security/group-managed-service-accounts/group-managed-service-accounts-overview.

More information on creating KDS root key: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/security/group-managed-service-accounts/create-the-key-distribution-services-kds-root-key.

Creating gMSA during Gatekeeper installation

Administrators can let the installation process create the gMSA or the administrator can pick an existing gMSA. The Gatekeeper Installation wizard will set up the necessary permissions for the machine where the Gatekeeper is installed to be allowed to use the gMSA account. If the gMSA account is created during the installation, the server that is installing the Gatekeeper has to be restarted in order to get the necessary tokens to access the gMSA account. The restart process should be smooth and re-open the installation wizard when signed in, which should pick up from before the restart.

Kerberos configuration

First of all, as mentioned in the section on enabling Integrated Authentication, the Integrated Authentication url needs to be added to the Trusted Sites in Internet Options for every client.

Configuring the Service Principal Name (SPN)

In order for the browser to know which account it should ask the Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) for a Kerberos ticket, the Service Princiopal Name needs to be configured. This can be configured by the Gatekeeper Admin Tool, it will also be checked by the GK Admin Tool.

The steps in the process for checking the SPN is as follows:

  1. Numerate all Gatekeepers and its accounts
  2. Check if a SPN exist for HTTP/uniqueId.trust.specopsauthentication.com (for NA production)
  3. Check that the account is the same as the account that is running the Gatekeepers

If Gatekeepers are running under multiple accounts, administrators will be alerted that it is best to run as a gMSA. Integrated Authentication will also work if multiple Gatekeepers are running under different accounts if the SPN matches the account that the primary Gatekeeper is running as. However, if the primary Gatekeeper goes down, Kerberos authentication will stop working.

More information

SPN Generation: https://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/http-authentication/

Configuring Chrome to disable cname lookup: https://chromeenterprise.google/policies/?policy=DisableAuthNegotiateCnameLookup

Configuring Edge to disable cname lookup: https://admx.help/?Category=EdgeChromium&Policy=Microsoft.Policies.Edge::DisableAuthNegotiateCnameLookup

Parameters

Parameter Description
Active Provider Indicates the protocol currently used for this Gatekeeper
Integrated Authentication url The authentication URL that should be added to trusted sites for all clients
SPN Configuration Status Indicates if SPN has been configured
SPN Account The SPN account name, if SPN has been configured

Multiple Gatekeepers

If multiple Gatekeepers are configured, all Gatekeepers have to be configured to use the Kerberos protocol for Integrated Authentication to work properly. All Gatekeepers will have to have access to the same Kerberos account (otherwise Integrated Authentication will not work if one of the Gatekeepers is down).

Since all Gatekeepers need to have access to teh same account, Specops Authentication provides support for Group Managed Service Accounts.