Having implemented Sun, Novell, and Oracle provisioning solutions in the past, the one thing that I found to be lacking in ForgeRock’s OpenIDM solution was an easy to use administrative interface for connecting to and configuring target resources.
Sure, you could configure JSON objects at the file level, but who wants to do that when “point and click” and “drag and drop” is the way to go.
With OpenIDM 3.1 my main objection has been eliminated as the the new resource configuration interfaces have arrived – and boy have they arrived!
See the OpenIDM Integrator’s Guide for more information.
The latest release now places OpenIDM directly in line as a viable alternative to the big boys and will make our deployments much quicker and less prone to error. Way to go ForgeRock, thanks for listening (and responding).
With Halloween in the rear view mirror and Christmas right around the corner, it is easy for Thanksgiving to get lost in the shuffle. Bordered by two holidays where much of our society is focused on gifts of candy and presents, Thanksgiving is sort of an “odd man out” and like many of the other holidays, much of its meaning is oftentimes overlooked.
While not the official start of the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today, it was George Washington who in 1789 declared Thursday, Nov. 26, a day of “thanksgiving.” This was a one time occurrence and its intent was to devote a day to “public thanksgiving and prayer” in gratitude to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
(Read the full proclamation here)
It wasn’t until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln set aside the fourth Thursday in November as our official Thanksgiving holiday, but it is the day that George Washington set aside that gives this holiday special meaning to me. The meaning of the word “thanks” is associated with an “expression of gratitude”; and to give thanks is to express that gratitude to others.
(Read the full proclamation here)
In both cases, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were expressing gratitude to the Almighty God for the wonderful gifts He had bestowed on a fledgling nation. While we can join in these expressions, each of us has something unique to be grateful for. Maybe it’s your health, or your family or friends. Maybe its your finances or the fact that you have achieved long sought after goals in your life, or simply that you have a roof over your head – each of us has something to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
So, on one of the most important holidays of the year, one that focuses on giving thanks for the blessings that we have received in the past year, let’s stop and take the time to thank the God Almighty, respective spouses, family members, friends, or whomever deserves that expression of gratitude.
After all, isn’t giving thanks what Thanksgiving is all about?
In real life we tend to value those traits that make us unique from others; but in an identity management deployment uniqueness is essential to the authentication process and should not be taken for granted.
Case in point, attributes in OpenDJ may share values that you may or may not want (or need) to be unique. For instance the following two (different) entries are both configured with the same value for the email address:
dn: uid=bnelson,ou=people,dc=example,dc=com uid: bnelson mail: email@example.com [LDIF Stuff Snipped]
dn: uid=scarter,ou=people,dc=example,dc=com uid: scarter mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [LDIF Stuff Snipped]
In some cases this may be fine, but in others this may not be the desired effect as you may need to enforce uniqueness for attributes such as uid, guid, email address, or simply credit cards. To ensure that attribute values are unique across directory server entries you need to configure attribute uniqueness.
UID Uniqueness Plug-In
OpenDJ has an existing plug-in that can be used to configure unique values for the uid attribute, but this plug-in is disabled by default. You can find this entry in OpenDJ’s main configuration file (config.ldif) or by searching the cn=config tree in OpenDJ (assuming you have the correct permissions to do so).
dn: cn=UID Unique Attribute,cn=Plugins,cn=config objectClass: ds-cfg-unique-attribute-plugin objectClass: ds-cfg-plugin objectClass: top ds-cfg-enabled: false ds-cfg-java-class: org.opends.server.plugins.UniqueAttributePlugin ds-cfg-plugin-type: preOperationAdd ds-cfg-plugin-type: preOperationModify ds-cfg-plugin-type: preOperationModifyDN ds-cfg-plugin-type: postOperationAdd ds-cfg-plugin-type: postOperationModify ds-cfg-plugin-type: postOperationModifyDN ds-cfg-plugin-type: postSynchronizationAdd ds-cfg-plugin-type: postSynchronizationModify ds-cfg-plugin-type: postSynchronizationModifyDN ds-cfg-invoke-for-internal-operations: true ds-cfg-type: uid cn: UID Unique Attribute
Leaving this plug-in disabled can cause problems with OpenAM, however, if OpenAM has been configured to authenticate using the uid attribute (and you ‘accidentally’ create entries with the same uid value). In such cases you will see an authentication error during the login process as OpenAM cannot determine which account you are trying to use for authentication.
To fix this problem in OpenAM, you can use the OpenDJ dsconfig command to enable the UID Unique Attribute plug-in as follows:
./dsconfig set-plugin-prop --hostname localhost --port 4444 \ --bindDN "cn=Directory Manager" --bindPassword password \ --plugin-name "UID Unique Attribute" \ --set base-dn:ou=people,dc=example,dc=com --set enabled:true \ --trustAll --no-prompt
This will prevent entries from being added to OpenDJ where the value of any existing uids conflicts with the incoming entry’s uid. This will address the situation where you are using the uid attribute for authentication in OpenAM, but what if you want to use a different attribute (such as mail) to authenticate? In such cases, you need to create your own uniqueness plug-in as follows:
./dsconfig create-plugin --hostname localhost --port 4444 \ --bindDN "cn=Directory Manager" --bindPassword password \ --plugin-name "Unique Email Address Plugin" \ --type unique-attribute --set type:mail --set enabled:true \ --set base-dn:ou=people,dc=example,dc=com --trustAll \ --no-prompt
In both cases the base-dn parameter defines the scope where the the uniqueness applies. This is useful in multitenant environments where you may want to define uniqueness within a particular subtree but not necessarily across the entire server.
The uniqueness plug-in requires that you have an existing equality index configured for the attribute where you would like to enforce uniqueness. The index is necessary so that OpenDJ can search for other entries (within the scope of the base-dn) where the attribute may already have a particular value set.
The following dscconfig command can be used to create an equality index for the mail attribute:
./dsconfig create-local-db-index --hostname localhost --port 4444 \ --bindDN "cn=Directory Manager" --bindPassword password --backend-name userRoot \ --index-name mail --set index-type:equality --trustAll --no-prompt
OpenAM’s default settings (Data Store, LDAP authentication module, etc) uses the uid attribute to authenticate and uniquely identify a user. OpenDJ typically uses uid as the unique naming attribute in a user’s distinguished name. When combined together, it is almost assumed that you will be using the uid attribute in this manner, but that is not always the case. You can easily run into issues when you start coloring outside of the lines and begin using other attributes (i.e. mail) for this purpose. Armed with the information contained in this post, however, you should easily be able to configure OpenDJ to enforce uniqueness for any attribute.
The OpenAM Authentication Service can be configured to lock a user’s account after a defined number of log in attempts has failed. Account Lockout is disabled by default, but when configured properly, this feature can be useful in fending off brute force attacks against OpenAM login screens.
If your OpenAM environment includes an LDAP server (such as OpenDJ) as an authentication database, then you have options on how (and where) you can configure Account Lockout settings. This can be performed in either OpenAM (as mentioned above) or in the LDAP server, itself. But the behavior is different based on where this is configured. There are benefits and drawbacks towards configuring Account Lockout in either product and knowing the difference is essential.
Note: Configuring Account Lockout simultaneously in both products can lead to confusing results and should be avoided unless you have a firm understanding of how each product works. See the scenario at the end of this article for a deeper dive on Account Lockout from an attribute perspective.
The OpenAM Approach
You can configure Account Lockout in OpenAM either globally or for a particular realm. To access the Account Lockout settings for the global configuration,
- Log in to OpenAM Console
- Navigate to: Configuration > Authentication > Core
- Scroll down to Account Lockout section
To access Account Lockout settings for a particular realm,
- Log in to OpenAM Console
- Navigate to: Access Control > realm > Authentication > All Core Settings
- Scroll down to Account Lockout section
In either location you will see various parameters for controlling Account Lockout as follows:
Account Lockout is disabled by default; you need to select the “Login Failure Lockout Mode” checkbox to enable this feature. Once it is enabled, you configure the number of attempts before an account is locked and even if a warning message is displayed to the user before their account is locked. You can configure how long the account is locked and even the duration between successive lockouts (which can increase if you set the duration multiplier). You can configure the attributes to use to store the account lockout information in addition to the default attributes configured in the Data Store.
Enabling Account Lockout affects the following Data Store attributes: inetUserStatus and sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData. By default, the value of the inetUserStatus attribute is either Active or Inactive, but this can be configured to use another attribute and another attribute value. This can be configured in the User Configuration section of the Data Store configuration as follows:
These attributes are updated in the Data Store configuration for the realm. A benefit of implementing Account Lockout in OpenAM is that you can use any LDAPv3 directory, Active Directory, or even a relational database – but you do need to have a Data Store configured to provide OpenAM with somewhere to write these values. An additional benefit is that OpenAM is already configured with error messages that can be easily displayed when a user’s account is about to be locked or has become locked. Configuring Account Lockout within OpenAM, however, may not provide the level of granularity that you might need and as such, you may need to configure it in the authentication database (such as OpenDJ).
The OpenDJ Approach
OpenDJ can be configured to lock accounts as well. This is defined in a password policy and can be configured globally (the entire OpenDJ instance) or it may be applied to a subentry (a group of users or a specific user). Similar to OpenAM, a user’s account can be locked after a number of invalid authentication attempts have been made. And similar to OpenAM, you have several additional settings that can be configured to control the lockout period, whether warnings should be sent, and even who to notify when the account has been locked.
But while configuring Account Lockout in OpenAM may recognize invalid password attempts in your SSO environment, configuring it in OpenDJ will recognize invalid attempts for any application that is using OpenDJ as an authentication database. This is more of a centralized approach and can recognize attacks from several vectors.
Configuring Account Lockout in OpenDJ affects the following OpenDJ attributes: pwdFailureTime (a multivalued attribute consisting of the timestamp of each invalid password attempt) and pwdAccountLockedTime (a timestamp indicating when the account was locked).
Another benefit of implementing Account Lockout in OpenDJ is the ability to configure Account Lockout for different types of users. This is helpful when you want to have different password policies for users, administrators, or even service accounts. This is accomplished by assigning different password polices directly to those users or indirectly through groups or virtual attributes. A drawback to this approach, however, is that OpenAM doesn’t necessarily recognize the circumstances behind error messages returned from OpenDJ when a user is unable to log in. A scrambled password in OpenDJ, for instance, simply displays as an Authentication failed error message in the OpenAM login screen.
By default, all users in OpenDJ are automatically assigned a generic (rather lenient) password policy that is aptly named: Default Password Policy. The definition of this policy can be seen as follows:
dn: cn=Default Password Policy,cn=Password Policies,cn=config objectClass: ds-cfg-password-policy objectClass: top objectClass: ds-cfg-authentication-policy ds-cfg-skip-validation-for-administrators: false ds-cfg-force-change-on-add: false ds-cfg-state-update-failure-policy: reactive ds-cfg-password-history-count: 0 ds-cfg-password-history-duration: 0 seconds ds-cfg-allow-multiple-password-values: false ds-cfg-lockout-failure-expiration-interval: 0 seconds ds-cfg-lockout-failure-count: 0 ds-cfg-max-password-reset-age: 0 seconds ds-cfg-max-password-age: 0 seconds ds-cfg-idle-lockout-interval: 0 seconds ds-cfg-java-class: org.opends.server.core.PasswordPolicyFactory ds-cfg-lockout-duration: 0 seconds ds-cfg-grace-login-count: 0 ds-cfg-force-change-on-reset: false ds-cfg-default-password-storage-scheme: cn=Salted SHA-1,cn=Password Storage Schemes,cn=config ds-cfg-allow-user-password-changes: true ds-cfg-allow-pre-encoded-passwords: false ds-cfg-require-secure-password-changes: false cn: Default Password Policy ds-cfg-require-secure-authentication: false ds-cfg-expire-passwords-without-warning: false ds-cfg-password-change-requires-current-password: false ds-cfg-password-generator: cn=Random Password Generator,cn=Password Generators, cn=config ds-cfg-password-expiration-warning-interval: 5 days ds-cfg-allow-expired-password-changes: false ds-cfg-password-attribute: userPassword ds-cfg-min-password-age: 0 seconds
The value of the ds-cfg-lockout-failure-count attribute is 0; which means that user accounts are not locked by default – no matter how many incorrect attempts are made. This is one of the many security settings that you can configure in a password policy and while many of these mimic what is available in OpenAM, others go quite deeper.
You can use the OpenDJ dsconfig command to change the Default Password Policy as follows:
dsconfig set-password-policy-prop --policy-name "Default Password Policy" --set lockout-failure-count:3 --hostname localhost --port 4444 --trustAll --bindDN "cn=Directory Manager" --bindPassword ****** --no-prompt
Rather than modifying the Default Password Policy, a preferred method is to create a new password policy and apply your own specific settings to the new policy. This policy can then be applied to a specific set of users.
The syntax for using the OpenDJ dsconfig command to create a new password policy can be seen below.
dsconfig create-password-policy --set default-password-storage-scheme:"Salted SHA-1" --set password-attribute:userpassword --set lockout-failure-count:3 --type password-policy --policy-name "Example Corp User Password Policy" --hostname localhost --port 4444 --trustAll --bindDN cn="Directory Manager" --bindPassword ****** --no-prompt
Note: This example contains a minimum number of settings (default-password-storage-scheme, password-attribute, and lockout-failure-count). Consider adding additional settings to customize your password policy as desired.
You can now assign the password policy to an individual user by adding the following attribute as a subentry to the user’s object:
ds-pwp-password-policy-dn: cn=Example Corp User Password Policy,cn=Password Policies, cn=config
This can be performed using any LDAP client where you have write permissions to a user’s entry. The following example uses the ldapmodify command in an interactive mode to perform this operation:
$ ldapmodify -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** <ENTER> dn: uid=bnelson,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com <ENTER> changetype: modify <ENTER> replace: ds-pwp-password-policy-dn <ENTER> ds-pwp-password-policy-dn: cn=Example Corp User Password Policy, cn=Password Policies,cn=config <ENTER> <ENTER>
Another method of setting this password policy is through the use of a dynamically created virtual attribute (i.e. one that is not persisted in the OpenDJ database backend). The following definition automatically assigns this new password policy to all users that exist beneath the ou=people container (the scope of the virtual attribute).
dn: cn=Example Corp User Password Policy Assignment,cn=Virtual Attributes,cn=config objectClass: ds-cfg-virtual-attribute objectClass: ds-cfg-user-defined-virtual-attribute objectClass: top ds-cfg-base-dn: ou=people,dc=example,dc=com cn: Example Corp User Password Policy Assignment ds-cfg-attribute-type: ds-pwp-password-policy-dn ds-cfg-enabled: true ds-cfg-java-class: org.opends.server.extensions.UserDefinedVirtualAttributeProvider ds-cfg-filter: (objectclass=sbacperson) ds-cfg-value: cn=Example Corp User Password Policy,cn=Password Policies,cn=config
Note: You can also use filters to create very granular results on how password polices are applied.
Configuring Account Lockout in OpenDJ has more flexibility and as such may be considered to be more powerful than OpenAM in this area. The potential confusion, however, comes when attempting to unlock a user’s account when they have been locked out of both OpenAM and OpenDJ. This is described in the following example.
A Deeper Dive into Account Lockout
Consider an environment where OpenAM is configured with the LDAP authentication module and that module has been configured to use an OpenDJ instance as the authentication database.
OpenAM and OpenDJ have both been configured to lock a user’s account after 3 invalid password attempts. What kind of behavior can you expect? Let’s walk through each step of an Account Lockout process and observe the behavior on Account Lockout specific attributes.
Step 1: Query Account Lockout Specific Attributes for the Test User
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com inetuserstatus: Active
The user is currently active and Account Lockout specific attributes are empty.
Step 2: Open the OpenAM Console and access the login screen for the realm where Account Lockout has been configured.
Step 3: Enter an invalid password for this user
Step 4: Query Account Lockout Specific Attributes for the Test User
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData:: PEludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD48SW52YWxpZENvdW50PjE8L0 ludmFsaWRDb3VudD48TGFzdEludmFsaWRBdD4xMzk4MTcxNTAwMDE4PC9MYXN0SW52YWxpZEF0P jxMb2NrZWRvdXRBdD4wPC9Mb2NrZWRvdXRBdD48QWN0dWFsTG9ja291dER1cmF0aW9uPjA8L0Fj dHVhbExvY2tvdXREdXJhdGlvbj48L0ludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD4= inetuserstatus: Active pwdFailureTime: 20140422125819.918Z
You now see that there is a value for the pwdFailureTime. This is the timestamp of when the first password failure occurred. This attribute was populated by OpenDJ.
The sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData attribute is populated by OpenAM. This is a base64 encoded value that contains valuable information regarding the invalid password attempt. Run this through a base64 decoder and you will see that this attribute contains the following information:
<InvalidPassword><InvalidCount>1</InvalidCount><LastInvalidAt>1398171500018 </LastInvalidAt><LockedoutAt>0</LockedoutAt><ActualLockoutDuration>0 </ActualLockoutDuration></InvalidPassword>
Step 5: Repeat Steps 2 and 3. (This is the second password failure.)
Step 6: Query Account Lockout Specific Attributes for the Test User
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData:: PEludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD48SW52YWxpZENvdW50PjI8L0 ludmFsaWRDb3VudD48TGFzdEludmFsaWRBdD4xMzk4MTcxNTUzMzUwPC9MYXN0SW52YWxpZEF0P jxMb2NrZWRvdXRBdD4wPC9Mb2NrZWRvdXRBdD48QWN0dWFsTG9ja291dER1cmF0aW9uPjA8L0Fj dHVhbExvY2tvdXREdXJhdGlvbj48L0ludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD4= inetuserstatus: Active pwdFailureTime: 20140422125819.918Z pwdFailureTime: 20140422125913.151Z
There are now two values for the pwdFailureTime attribute – one for each password failure. The sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData attribute has been updated as follows:
<InvalidPassword><InvalidCount>2</InvalidCount><LastInvalidAt>1398171553350 </LastInvalidAt><LockedoutAt>0</LockedoutAt><ActualLockoutDuration>0 </ActualLockoutDuration></InvalidPassword>
Step 7: Repeat Steps 2 and 3. (This is the third and final password failure.)
OpenAM displays an error message indicating that the user’s account is not active. This is OpenAM’s way of acknowledging that the user’s account has been locked.
Step 8: Query Account Lockout Specific Attributes for the Test User
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData:: PEludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD48SW52YWxpZENvdW50PjA8L0 ludmFsaWRDb3VudD48TGFzdEludmFsaWRBdD4wPC9MYXN0SW52YWxpZEF0PjxMb2NrZWRvdXRBd D4wPC9Mb2NrZWRvdXRBdD48QWN0dWFsTG9ja291dER1cmF0aW9uPjA8L0FjdHVhbExvY2tvdXRE dXJhdGlvbj48L0ludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD4= inetuserstatus: Inactive pwdFailureTime: 20140422125819.918Z pwdFailureTime: 20140422125913.151Z pwdFailureTime: 20140422125944.771Z pwdAccountLockedTime: 20140422125944.771Z
There are now three values for the pwdFailureTime attribute – one for each password failure. The sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData attribute has been updated as follows:
<InvalidPassword><InvalidCount>0</InvalidCount><LastInvalidAt>0</LastInvalidAt> <LockedoutAt>0</LockedoutAt><ActualLockoutDuration>0</ActualLockoutDuration> </InvalidPassword>
You will note that the counters have all been reset to zero. That is because the user’s account has been inactivated by OpenAM by setting the value of the inetuserstatus attribute to Inactive. Additionally, the third invalid password caused OpenDJ to lock the account by setting the value of the pwdAccountLockedTime attribute to the value of the last password failure.
Now that the account is locked out, how do you unlock it? The natural thing for an OpenAM administrator to do is to reset the value of the inetuserstatus attribute and they would most likely use the OpenAM Console to do this as follows:
The problem with this approach is that while the user’s status in OpenAM is now made active, the status in OpenDJ remains locked.
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData:: PEludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD48SW52YWxpZENvdW50PjA8L0 ludmFsaWRDb3VudD48TGFzdEludmFsaWRBdD4wPC9MYXN0SW52YWxpZEF0PjxMb2NrZWRvdXRBd D4wPC9Mb2NrZWRvdXRBdD48QWN0dWFsTG9ja291dER1cmF0aW9uPjA8L0FjdHVhbExvY2tvdXRE dXJhdGlvbj48L0ludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD4= inetuserstatus: Active pwdFailureTime: 20140422125819.918Z pwdFailureTime: 20140422125913.151Z pwdFailureTime: 20140422125944.771Z pwdAccountLockedTime: 20140422125944.771Z
Attempting to log in to OpenAM with this user’s account yields an authentication error that would make most OpenAM administrators scratch their head; especially after just resetting the user’s status.
The trick to fixing this is to clear the pwdAccountLockedTime and pwdFailureTime attributes and the way to do this is by modifying the user’s password. Once again, the ldapmodify command can be used as follows:
$ ldapmodify -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** <ENTER> dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=example,dc=com <ENTER> changetype: modify <ENTER> replace: userPassword <ENTER> userPassword: newpassword <ENTER> <ENTER>
$ ldapsearch -D "cn=Directory Manager" -w ****** uid=testuser1 inetuserstatus \ sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData pwdFailureTime pwdAccountLockedTime dn: uid=testuser1,ou=test,dc=agcocorp,dc=com sunAMAuthInvalidAttemptsData:: PEludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD48SW52YWxpZENvdW50PjA8L0 ludmFsaWRDb3VudD48TGFzdEludmFsaWRBdD4wPC9MYXN0SW52YWxpZEF0PjxMb2NrZWRvdXRBd D4wPC9Mb2NrZWRvdXRBdD48QWN0dWFsTG9ja291dER1cmF0aW9uPjA8L0FjdHVhbExvY2tvdXRE dXJhdGlvbj48L0ludmFsaWRQYXNzd29yZD4= inetuserstatus: Active pwdChangedTime: 20140422172242.676Z
This, however, requires two different interfaces for managing the user’s account. An easier method is to combine the changes into one interface. You can modify the inetuserstatus attribute using ldapmodify or if you are using the OpenAM Console, simply change the password while you are updating the user’s status.
There are other ways to update one attribute by simply modifying the other. This can range in complexity from a simple virtual attribute to a more complex yet powerful custom OpenDJ plugin. But in the words of Voltaire, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
So go forth and wield your new found power; but do it in a responsible manner.
In fact, it’s HIGHLY recommended….
Performance testing and stress testing are closely related and are essential tasks in any OpenAM deployment.
When conducting performance testing, you are trying to determine how well your system performs when subjected to a particular load. A primary goal of performance testing is to determine whether the system that you just built can support your client base (as defined by your performance requirements). Oftentimes you must tweak things (memory, configuration settings, hardware) in order to meet your performance requirements, but without executing performance tests, you will never know if you can support your clients until you are actually under fire (and by then, it may be too late).
Performance testing is an iterative process as shown in the following diagram:
Each of the states may be described as follows:
- Test – throw a load at your server
- Measure – take note of the results
- Compare – compare your results to those desired
- Tweak – modify the system to help achieve your performance results
During performance testing you may continue in this loop until such time that you meet your performance requirements – or until you find that your requirements were unrealistic in the first place.
Stress testing (aka “torture testing”) goes beyond normal performance testing in that the load you place on the system intentionally exceeds the anticipated capacity. The goal of stress testing is to determine the breaking point of the system and observe the behavior when the system fails.
Stress testing allows you to create contingency plans for those ‘worse case scenarios’ that will eventually occur (thanks to Mr. Murphy).
Before placing OpenAM into production you should test to see if your implementation meets your current performance requirements (concurrent sessions, authentications per second, etc.) and have a pretty good idea of where your limitations are. The problem is that an OpenAM deployment is comprised of multiple servers – each that may need to be tested (and tuned) separately. So how do you know where to start?
When executing performance and stress tests in OpenAM, there are three areas where I like to place my focus: 1) the protected application, 2) the OpenAM server, and 3) the data store(s). Testing the system as a whole may not provide enough information to determine where problems may lie and so I prefer to take an incremental approach that tests each component in sequence. I start with the data stores (authentication and user profile databases) and work my way back towards the protected application – with each iteration adding a new component.
Note: It should go without saying that the testing environment should mimic your production environment as closely as possible. Any deviation may cause your test results to be skewed and provide inaccurate data.
An OpenAM deployment may consist of multiple data stores – those that are used for authentication (Active Directory, OpenDJ, Radius Server, etc.) and those that are used to build a user’s profile (LDAP and RDBMS). Both of these are core to an OpenAM deployment and while they are typically the easiest to test, a misconfiguration here may have a pretty big impact on overall performance. As such, I start my testing at the database layer and focus only on that component.
Performance of an authentication database can be measured by the average number of authentications that occur over a particular period of time (seconds, minutes, hours) and the easiest way to test these types of databases is to simply perform authentication operations against them.
You can write your own scripts to accomplish this, but there are many freely available tools that can be used as well. One tool that I have used in the past is the SLAMD Distributed Load Generation Engine. SLAMD was designed to test directory server performance, but it can be used to test web applications as well. Unfortunately, SLAMD is no longer being actively developed, but you can still download a copy from http://dl.thezonemanager.com/slamd/.
A tool that I have started using to test authentications against an LDAP server is authrate, which is included in ForgeRock’s OpenDJ LDAP Toolkit. Authrate allows you to stress the server and display some really nice statistics while doing so. The authrate command line tool measures bind throughput and response times and is perfect for testing all sorts of LDAP authentication databases.
Performance of a user profile database is typically measured in search performance against that database. If your user profile database can be searched using LDAP (i.e. Active Directory or any LDAPv3 server), then you can use searchrate – also included in the OpenDJ LDAP Toolkit. searchrate is a command line tool that measures search throughput and response time.
The following is sample output from the searchrate command:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Throughput Response Time (ops/second) (milliseconds) recent average recent average 99.9% 99.99% 99.999% err/sec Entries/Srch ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 188.7 188.7 3.214 3.214 306.364 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 223.1 205.9 2.508 2.831 27.805 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 245.7 219.2 2.273 2.622 20.374 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 238.7 224.1 2.144 2.495 27.805 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 287.9 236.8 1.972 2.368 32.656 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 335.0 253.4 1.657 2.208 32.656 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0 358.7 268.4 1.532 2.080 30.827 306.364 306.364 0.0 0.0
The first two columns represent the throughput (number of operations per second) observed in the server. The first column contains the most recent value and the second column contains the average throughput since the test was initiated (i.e. the average of all values contained in column one).
The remaining columns represent response times with the third column being the most recent response time and the fourth column containing the average response time since the test was initiated. Columns five, six, and seven (represented by percentile headers) demonstrate how many operations fell within that range.
For instance, by the time we are at the 7th row, 99.9% of the operations are completed in 30.827 ms (5th column, 7th row), 99.99% are completed in 306.364 ms (6th column, 7th row), and 99.999% of them are completed within 306.364 ms (7th column, 7th row). The percentile rankings provide a good indication of the real system performance and can be interpreted as follows:
- 1 out of 1,000 search requests is exceeding 30 ms
- 1 one out of 100,000 requests is exceeding 306 ms
Note: The values contained in this search were performed on an untuned, limited resource test system. Results will vary depending on the amount of JVM memory, the system CPU(s), and the data contained in the directory. Generally, OpenDJ systems can achieve much better performance that the values shown above.
There are several factors that may need to be considered when tuning authentication and user profile databases. For instance, if you are using OpenDJ for your database you may need to modify your database cache, the number of worker threads, or even how indexing is configured in the server. If your constraint is operating system based, you may need to increase the size of the JVM or the number of file descriptors. If the hardware is the limiting factor, you may need to increase RAM, use high speed disks, or even faster network interfaces. No matter what the constraint, you should optimize the databases (and database servers) before moving up the stack to the OpenAM instance.
OpenAM Instance + Data Store(s)
Once you have optimized any data store(s) you can now begin testing directly against OpenAM as it is configured against those data store(s). Previous testing established a performance baseline and any degradation introduced at this point will be due to OpenAM or the environment (operating system, Java container) where it has been configured.
But how can you test an OpenAM instance without introducing the application that it is protecting? One way is to generate a series of authentications and authorizations using direct interfaces such as the OpenAM API or REST calls. I prefer to use REST calls as this is the easiest to implement.
There are browser based applications such as Postman that are great for functional testing, but these are not easily scriptable. As such, I lean towards a shell or Perl script containing a loop of cURL commands.
Note: You should use the same authentication and search operations in your cURL commands to be sure that you are making a fair comparison between the standalone database testing and the introduction of OpenAM.
You should expect some decrease in performance when the OpenAM server is introduced, but it should not be too drastic. If you find that it falls outside of your requirements, however, then you should consider updating OpenAM in one of the following areas:
- LDAP Configuration Settings (i.e. connections to the Configuration Server)
- Session Settings (if you are hitting limitations)
- JVM Settings (pay particular attention to garbage collection)
- Cache Settings (size and time to live)
Details behind each of these areas can be found in the OpenAM Administration Guide.
You may also find that OpenAM’s interaction with the database(s) introduces searches (or other operations) that you did not previously test for. This may require you to update your database(s) to account for this and restart your performance testing.
Note: Another tool I have started playing with is the Java Application Monitor (aka JAMon). While this tool is typically used to monitor a Java application, it provides some useful information to help determine bottlenecks working with databases, file IO, and garbage collection.
Application + OpenAM Instance + Data Store(s)
Once you feel comfortable with the performance delivered by OpenAM and its associated data store(s), it is time to introduce the final component – the protected application, itself.
This will differ quite a bit based on how you are protecting your application (for instance, policy agents will behave differently from OAuth2/OpenID Connect or SAML2) but this does provide you with the information you need to determine if you can meet your performance requirements in a production deployment.
If you have optimized everything up to this point, then the combination of all three components will provide a full end to end test of the entire system. In this case, then an impact due to network latency will be the most likely factor in performance testing.
To perform a full end to end test of all components, I prefer to use Apache JMeter. You configure JMeter to use a predefined set of credentials, authenticate to the protected resource, and look for specific responses from the server. Once you see those responses, JMeter will act according to how you have preconfigured it to act. This tool allows you to generate a load against OpenAM from login to logout and anything in between.
Keep in mind that any time that you introduce a monitoring tool into a testing environment, the tool (itself) can impact performance. So while the numbers you receive are useful, they are not altogether acurate. There may be some slight performance degradation (due to the introduction of the tool) that your users will never see.
You should also be aware that the client machine (where the load generation tools are installed) may become a bottleneck if you are not careful. You should consider distributing your performance testing tools across multiple client machines to minimize this effect. This is another way of ensuring that the client environment does not become the limiting factor.
Like many other areas in our field, performance testing an OpenAM deployment may be considered as much of an art as it is a science. There may be as many methods for testing as there are consultants and each varies based on the tools they use. The information contained here is just one approach performance testing – one that I have used successfully in our deployments.
What methods have you used? Feel free to share in the comments, below.
Securing SAML Assertions
SAML assertions passed over the public Internet will include a digital signature signed by an Identity Provider’s private key. Additionally, the assertion will include the IdP’s public key contained in the body of a digital certificate. Service Providers receiving the assertion can be assured that it has not been tampered with by comparing the unencrypted (hashed) message obtained from the digital signature with a hashed version of the message created by the Service Provider using the same hashing algorithm.
The process can be demonstrated by the following diagram where the Signing process is performed by the IdP and the Verification process is performed by the SP. The “Data” referred to in the diagram is the assertion and the “Hash function” is the hashing algorithm used by both the Identity Provider and the Service Provider.
In order for an Identity Provider to sign the assertion, they must first have a digital certificate.
OpenAM includes a default certificate that can use for testing purposes. This certificate is common to all installations and while convenient, should not be used for production deployments. Instead, you should either use a certificate obtained from a trusted certificate authority (such as Thawte or Entrust) or generate your own self-signed certificate.
Note: For the purposes of this article, $CONFIG refers to the location of the configuration folder specified during the installation process. $URI refers to the URI of the OpenAM application; also specified during the installation process (i.e. /openam).
OpenAM’s Default Signing Key
OpenAM stores its certificates in a Java Keystore file located in the $CONFIG/$URI folder by default. This can be found in the OpenAM Console as follows:
- Log in to the OpenAM Console as the administrative user.
- Select the Configuration tab.
- Select the Servers and Sites subtab.
- In the Servers panel, select the link for the appropriate server instance.
- Select the Security tab.
- Select the Key Store link at the top of the page.
You will see that the default location for the Java Keystore file, all passwords, and the alias of the default test certificate as follows:
Viewing the Contents of OpenAM’s Default Certificate
You can view the contents of this file as follows:
- Change to the $CONFIG/$URI folder.
- Use the Java keytool utility to view the contents of the file. (Note: The contents of the file are password protected. The default password is: changeit)
# keytool –list –keystore keystore.jks
Enter keystore password: changeit
Keystore type: JKS
Keystore provider: SUN
Your keystore contains 1 entry
Alias name: test
Creation date: Jul 16, 2008
Entry type: PrivateKeyEntry
Certificate chain length: 1
Owner: CN=test, OU=OpenSSO, O=Sun, L=Santa Clara, ST=California, C=US
Issuer: CN=test, OU=OpenSSO, O=Sun, L=Santa Clara, ST=California, C=US
Serial number: 478d074b
Valid from: Tue Jan 15 19:19:39 UTC 2008 until: Fri Jan 12 19:19:39 UTC 2018
Signature algorithm name: MD5withRSA
Replacing OpenAM’s Default Keystore
You should replace this file with a Java Keystore file containing your own key pair and certificate. This will be used as the key for digitally signing assertions as OpenAM plays the role of a Hosted Identity Provider. The process for performing this includes five basic steps:
- Generate a new Java Keystore file containing a new key pair consisting of the public and private keys.
- Export the digital certificate from the file and make it trusted by your Java installation.
- Generate encrypted password files that permit OpenAM to read the keys from the Java Keystore.
- Replace OpenAM’s default Java Keystore and password files with your newly created files.
- Restart OpenAM.
The following provides the detailed steps for replacing the default Java Keystore.
1. Generate a New Java Keystore Containing the Key Pair
a) Change to a temporary folder where you will generate your files.
# cd /tmp
b) Use the Java keytool utility to generate a new key pair that will be used as the signing key for your Hosted Identity Provider.
# keytool -genkeypair -alias signingKey -keyalg RSA -keysize 1024 -validity 730
-storetype JKS -keystore keystore.jks
Enter keystore password: cangetin
Re-enter new password: cangetin
What is your first and last name?
What is the name of your organizational unit?
What is the name of your organization?
[Unknown]: Identity Fusion
What is the name of your City or Locality?
What is the name of your State or Province?
What is the two-letter country code for this unit?
Is CN=idp.identityfusion.com, OU=Security, O=Identity Fusion, L=Tampa, ST=FL, C=US correct?
Enter key password for <signingKey>
(RETURN if same as keystore password): cangetin
Re-enter new password: cangetin
You have now generated a self-signed certificate but since it has been signed by you, it is not automatically trusted by other applications. In order to trust the new certificate, you need to export it from your keystore file, and import it into the cacerts file for your Java installation. To accomplish this, perform the following steps:
2. Make the Certificate Trusted
a) Export the self-signed certificate as follows:
# keytool -exportcert -alias signingKey -file idfSelfSignedCert.crt -keystore keystore.jks
Enter keystore password: cangetin
Certificate stored in file <idfSelfSignedCert.crt>
b) Import the certificate into the Java trust store as follows:
# keytool -importcert -alias signingKey -file idfSelfSignedCert.crt -trustcacerts
Enter keystore password: changeit
Owner: CN=idp.identityfusion.com, OU=Security, O=Identity Fusion, L=Tampa, ST=FL, C=US
Issuer: CN=idp.identityfusion.com, OU=Security, O=Identity Fusion, L=Tampa, ST=FL, C=US
Serial number: 34113557
Valid from: Thu Jan 30 04:25:51 UTC 2014 until: Sat Jan 30 04:25:51 UTC 2016
Signature algorithm name: SHA256withRSA
#1: ObjectId: 184.108.40.206 Criticality=false
0000: 12 3B 83 BE 46 D6 D5 17 0F 49 37 E4 61 CC 89 BE .;..F….I7.a…
0010: 6D B0 5B F5 m.[.
Trust this certificate? [no]: yes
OpenAM needs to be able to open the truststore (keystore.jks) and read the key created in step 1. The private key and truststore database have both been locked with a password that you entered while configuring the truststore and signing key, however. For OpenAM to be able to read this information you need to place these passwords in files on the file system.
3. Generate Encrypted Password Files
Note: The passwords will start out as clear text at first, but will be encrypted to provide secure access.
a) Create the password file for the trust store as follows:
# echo “cangetin” > storepass.cleartext
b) Create the password file for the signing key as follows:
# echo “cangetin” > keypass.cleartext
c) Prepare encrypted versions of these passwords by using the OpenAM ampassword utility (which is part of the OpenAM administration tools).
# ampassword –encrypt keypass.cleartext > .keypass
# ampassword –encrypt storepass.cleartext > .storepass
Note: Use these file names as you will be replacing the default files of the same name.
4. Replace the Default OpenAM Files With Your New Files
a) Make a backup copy of your existing keystore and password files.
# cp $CONFIG/$URI/.keypass $CONFIG/$URI/.keypass.save
# cp $CONFIG/$URI/.storepass $CONFIG/$URI/.storepass.save
# cp $CONFIG/$URI/keystore.jks $CONFIG/$URI/keystore.jks.save
b) Overwrite the existing keystore and password files as follows:
# cp .keypass $CONFIG/$URI/.keypass
# cp .storepass $CONFIG/$URI/.storepass
# cp keystore.jks $CONFIG/$URI/keystore.jks
5. Restart the container where OpenAM is currently running.
This will allow OpenAM to use the new keystore and read the new password files.
Verifying Your Changes
You can use the keytool utility to view the contents of your Keystore as previously mentioned in this article. Alternately, you can log in to the OpenAM Console and see that OpenAM is using the new signing key as follows:
- Log in to OpenAM Console.
- Select the Common Tasks tab.
- Select the Create Hosted Identity Provider option beneath the Create SAMLv2 Providers section.
Verify that you now see your new signing key appear beneath the Signing Key option as follows:
You have now successfully replaced the default OpenAM Java Keystore with your own custom version.