Chapter 3. Configuring SSSD to use LDAP and require TLS authentication

The System Security Services Daemon (SSSD) is a daemon that manages identity data retrieval and authentication on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux host. A system administrator can configure the host to use a standalone LDAP server as the user account database. The administrator can also specify the requirement that the connection with the LDAP server must be encrypted with a TLS certificate.


The SSSD configuration option to enforce TLS, ldap_id_use_start_tls, defaults to false. When using ldap:// without TLS for identity lookups, it can pose a risk for an attack vector, namely a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack which could allow you to impersonate a user by altering, for example, the UID or GID of an object returned in an LDAP search.

Ensure that your setup operates in a trusted environment and decide if it is safe to use unencrypted communication for id_provider = ldap. Note id_provider = ad and id_provider = ipa are not affected as they use encrypted connections protected by SASL and GSSAPI.

If it is not safe to use unencrypted communication, you should enforce TLS by setting the ldap_id_use_start_tls option to true in the /etc/sssd/sssd.conf file.

3.1. An OpenLDAP client using SSSD to retrieve data from LDAP in an encrypted way

The authentication method of the LDAP objects can be either a Kerberos password or an LDAP password. Note that the questions of authentication and authorization of the LDAP objects are not addressed here.


Configuring SSSD with LDAP is a complex procedure requiring a high level of expertise in SSSD and LDAP. Consider using an integrated and automated solution such as Active Directory or Red Hat Identity Management (IdM) instead. For details about IdM, see Planning Identity Management.

3.2. Configuring SSSD to use LDAP and require TLS authentication

Complete this procedure to configure your Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) system as an OpenLDAP client.

Use the following client configuration:

  • The RHEL system authenticates users stored in an OpenLDAP user account database.
  • The RHEL system uses the System Security Services Daemon (SSSD) service to retrieve user data.
  • The RHEL system communicates with the OpenLDAP server over a TLS-encrypted connection.

You can alternatively use this procedure to configure your RHEL system as a client of a Red Hat Directory Server.


  • The OpenLDAP server is installed and configured with user information.
  • You have root permissions on the host you are configuring as the LDAP client.
  • On the host you are configuring as the LDAP client, the /etc/sssd/sssd.conf file has been created and configured to specify ldap as the autofs_provider and the id_provider.
  • You have a PEM-formatted copy of the root CA signing certificate chain from the Certificate Authority that issued the OpenLDAP server certificate, stored in a local file named


  1. Install the requisite packages:

    # dnf -y install openldap-clients sssd sssd-ldap oddjob-mkhomedir
  2. Switch the authentication provider to sssd:

    # authselect select sssd with-mkhomedir
  3. Copy the file containing the root CA signing certificate chain from the Certificate Authority that issued the OpenLDAP server’s SSL/TLS certificate into the /etc/openldap/certs folder.

    # cp /etc/openldap/certs
  4. Add the URL and suffix of your LDAP server to the /etc/openldap/ldap.conf file:

    URI ldap://
    BASE dc=example,dc=com
  5. In the /etc/openldap/ldap.conf file, add a line pointing the TLS_CACERT parameter to /etc/openldap/certs/

    # When no CA certificates are specified the Shared System Certificates
    # are in use. In order to have these available along with the ones specified
    # by TLS_CACERTDIR one has to include them explicitly:
    TLS_CACERT /etc/openldap/certs/
  6. In the /etc/sssd/sssd.conf file, add your environment values to the ldap_uri and ldap_search_base parameters and set the ldap_id_use_start_tls to True:

    id_provider = ldap
    autofs_provider = ldap
    auth_provider = ldap
    chpass_provider = ldap
    ldap_uri = ldap://
    ldap_search_base = dc=example,dc=com
    ldap_id_use_start_tls = True
    cache_credentials = True
    ldap_tls_cacertdir = /etc/openldap/certs
    ldap_tls_reqcert = allow
    services = nss, pam, autofs
    domains = default
    homedir_substring = /home
  7. In /etc/sssd/sssd.conf, specify the TLS authentication requirement by modifying the ldap_tls_cacert and ldap_tls_reqcert values in the [domain] section:

    cache_credentials = True
    ldap_tls_cacert = /etc/openldap/certs/
    ldap_tls_reqcert = hard
  8. Change the permissions on the /etc/sssd/sssd.conf file:

    # chmod 600 /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
  9. Restart and enable the SSSD service and the oddjobd daemon:

    # systemctl restart sssd oddjobd
    # systemctl enable sssd oddjobd
  10. (Optional) If your LDAP server uses the deprecated TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1 protocols, switch the system-wide cryptographic policy on the client system to the LEGACY level to allow RHEL to communicate using these protocols:

    # update-crypto-policies --set LEGACY

    For more details, see the Strong crypto defaults in RHEL 8 and deprecation of weak crypto algorithms Knowledgebase article on the Red Hat Customer Portal and the update-crypto-policies(8) man page.

Verification steps

  • Verify you can retrieve user data from your LDAP server by using the id command and specifying an LDAP user:

    # id ldap_user
    uid=17388(ldap_user) gid=45367(sysadmins) groups=45367(sysadmins),25395(engineers),10(wheel),1202200000(admins)

The system administrator can now query users from LDAP using the id command. The command returns a correct user ID and group membership.