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Kerberos Security

Kerberos is an authentication protocol which can be used to secure communications in web services. Kerberos enables you to exchange user credentials securely. Thus, it also provides mutual authentication in which the server can also authenticate itself to the client.

The Kerberos protocol uses a trusted third party called “Key Distribution Center” (KDC). KDC consists of two logical parts. They are:

  • Authentication Server
  • Ticket Granting Server

The actual user credentials are stored within the Authentication Server. The communicating parties will retrieve a Kerberos ticket from the Ticket Granting Server. TGS validates the ticket-requesting users'

Kerberos Security within WSO2 Identity Server

To use WSO2 Identity Server as a KDC we need to configure are Identity server to a user store which can act as a KDC.

With default configurations WSO2 Identity Server uses an ApacheDS-based LDAP server user store. It also has an ApacheDS based on KDC implementation. Users can use WSO2 Identity Server as a KDC and implement Kerberos security to secure communications between services and clients.
Enable KDC within WSO2 Identity Server.

To use KDC in Identity Server, you need to use the embedded LDAP which ships with WSO2 Identity Server. Thus, by default, the KDC server is disabled. To enable the KDC server, go to the Identity Server home directory and navigate to the <PRODUCT_HOME>/repository/conf/identity folder. There you will find a file named embedded-ldap.xml. Open embedded-ldap.xml and find the <KDCServer/> XML tag. You will configure the XML element named enabled. Set its value to true. After modifying it, the XML configuration should look like this:

<Property name="name">defaultKDC</Property>
<Property name="enabled">true</Property>
<Property name="protocol">UDP</Property>
<Property name="host">localhost</Property>
<Property name="port">${Ports.EmbeddedLDAP.KDCServerPort}</Property>
<Property name="maximumTicketLifeTime">8640000</Property>
<Property name="maximumRenewableLifeTime">604800000</Property>
<Property name="preAuthenticationTimeStampEnabled">true</Property>

Service Principals

The KDC Server issues tickets to access a particular service. Thus, each type of service is associated with a particular service name. In the case of Kerberos, we call the service name “Service Principal Name” (SPN). Before we assign an SPN to a service, we need to define the “Service Principal Name” in KDC.

Adding Service Principals

In order to configure a service principal, you must first register a service provider for inbound authentication.

  1. Expand the Kerberos KDC and click Configure.
  2. Specify the required information on the "Add Service Principal" page.
    • Service Principal Name – Name of the service principal. This usually takes following format: <Service Name>/<Host where service is running>. This field is mandatory.
    • Password – The password given to the service principal. You would use this password in the appropriate service's rampart configuration. Thus, the appropriate service will provide a password, given in rampart configuration, to KDC when it needs to authenticate itself to KDC. This field is mandatory.
    • Re-Type Password – Re-type password provided in the "Password" section to make sure the given password is accurate. This field is mandatory.
    • Description – Brief description of the service principal. This field is not mandatory.

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