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From "Thomas, Peter" <>
Subject X.509 certificate against LDAP authentication
Date Wed, 03 Mar 2010 21:19:34 GMT
Looking at some of the prior work in this area. It appears that one of
the big challenges in cert-based authentication is in the mapping
between the certificate subject and the directory entry.

If I'm creating something for general consumption, I want to make it
generalizable to multiple environments.  In looking at the other people
that have implemented this with hooks and "shim modules," I've seen
several different techniques for certificate mapping & authentication.
I'd like my proposed enhancement to be as widely usable as possible.
Looking at the code, I think the greatest opportunity for reuse of
existing code and consistency with the architecture lies in creating
support for the certificate authentication type within the current
modules, starting with mod_authnz_ldap.

With respect to mapping & authentication, the approaches I'm considering
are to allow one or more of the following:

  1) Authenticate a user by the full binary certificate, assuming that
each user will have one or more valid certificates stored in the
directory in an attribute such as "usercertificate;binary"
  2) Authenticate a user by mapping the certificate subject to a DN
  3) Authenticate a user by some combination of elements such as subject
CN and issuer CN against a directory of certificates?

I saw one case in my research where only groups existed in LDAP--no
users entries.To address that, it occurs to me that there might also be
an "option 0":

  0) Authenticate a user by the presence of an accepted certificate,
without reference to a specific entry in the directory--i.e. any valid
certificate that comes out of mod_ssl is treated as an authenticated
user.]  This would let one authorize a user based on membership in a
group when only groups are populated.

Looking at mod_auth_basic and mod_auth_digest, it looks like I need to
come up with a user name fairly early on.  I intend to hook the handler
with mod_ssl.c as a predecessor.  Any thoughts on the most appropriate
way to pull the peer certificate out of the connection and then map it
to a user name?  I'm trying to avoid using SSLUserName from mod_ssl,
because we might need the certificate--but I don't want to set the
username to be the client certificate.  That makes for unfriendly
reading in logs.  Rather, I want to have some mapping [such as in
"option 2" above] from the certificate to the user name.

In my ideal world, I would meet this goal with an absolute minimal
change to the code-base:

  1) add a new file "modules/aaa/mod_auth_cert.c" to support "AuthType
  2) add a "check_certificate" method to mod_authnz_ldap.c that maps
from a certificate to a user search and "succeeds" if the criteria for
existence of a user is met
  3) Reconcile any explicit or implicit assumptions that we are using
AuthType basic.

I appreciate any thoughts and pointers.


Peter L. Thomas,
(w) 703-682-5308 (c) 703-615-7806 (pgr) 877-383-8910
 <<Thomas, Peter L. (>> 

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