Chapter 19. Defining IdM password policies

This chapter describes Identity Management (IdM) password policies and how to add a new password policy in IdM using an Ansible playbook.

19.1. What is a password policy

A password policy is a set of rules that passwords must meet. For example, a password policy can define the minimum password length and the maximum password lifetime. All users affected by this policy are required to set a sufficiently long password and change it frequently enough to meet the specified conditions. In this way, password policies help reduce the risk of someone discovering and misusing a user’s password.

19.2. Password policies in IdM

Passwords are the most common way for Identity Management (IdM) users to authenticate to the IdM Kerberos domain. Password policies define the requirements that these IdM user passwords must meet.


The IdM password policy is set in the underlying LDAP directory, but the Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) enforces the password policy.

Password policy attributes lists the attributes you can use to define a password policy in IdM.

Table 19.1. Password Policy Attributes


Max lifetime

The maximum amount of time in days that a password is valid before a user must reset it.

Max lifetime = 90

User passwords are valid only for 90 days. After that, IdM prompts users to change them.

Min lifetime

The minimum amount of time in hours that must pass between two password change operations.

Min lifetime = 1

After users change their passwords, they must wait at least 1 hour before changing them again.

History size

The number of previous passwords that are stored. A user cannot reuse a password from their password history but can reuse old passwords that are not stored.

History size = 0

In this case, the password history is empty and users can reuse any of their previous passwords.

Character classes

The number of different character classes the user must use in the password. The character classes are:

* Uppercase characters

* Lowercase characters

* Digits

* Special characters, such as comma (,), period (.), asterisk (*)

* Other UTF-8 characters

Using a character three or more times in a row decreases the character class by one. For example:

* Secret1 has 3 character classes: uppercase, lowercase, digits

* Secret111 has 2 character classes: uppercase, lowercase, digits, and a -1 penalty for using 1 repeatedly

Character classes = 0

The default number of classes required is 0. To configure the number, run the ipa pwpolicy-mod command with the --minclasses option.

See also the Important note below this table.

Min length

The minimum number of characters in a password.

If any of the additional password policy options are set, then the minimum length of passwords is 6 regardless of the value to which the Min length option is set.

Min length = 8

Users cannot use passwords shorter than 8 characters.

Max failures

The maximum number of failed login attempts before IdM locks the user account.

Max failures = 6

IdM locks the user account when the user enters a wrong password 7 times in a row.

Failure reset interval

The amount of time in seconds after which IdM resets the current number of failed login attempts.

Failure reset interval = 60

If the user waits for more than 1 minute after the number of failed login attempts defined in Max failures, the user can attempt to log in again without risking a user account lock.

Lockout duration

The amount of time in seconds that the user account is locked after the number of failed login attempts defined in Max failures.

Lockout duration = 600

Users with locked accounts are unable to log in for 10 minutes.


Use the English alphabet and common symbols for the character classes requirement if you have a diverse set of hardware that may not have access to international characters and symbols. For more information about character class policies in passwords, see What characters are valid in a password? in Red Hat Knowledgebase.

19.3. Ensuring the presence of a password policy in IdM using an Ansible playbook

This section describes how to ensure the presence of a password policy in Identity Management (IdM) using an Ansible playbook.

In the default global_policy password policy in IdM, the number of different character classes in the password is set to 0. The history size is also set to 0.

Complete this procedure to enforce a stronger password policy for an IdM group using an Ansible playbook.


You can only define a password policy for an IdM group. You cannot define a password policy for an individual user.


  • You have configured your Ansible control node to meet the following requirements:

    • You are using Ansible version 2.8 or later.
    • You have installed the ansible-freeipa package on the Ansible controller.
    • The example assumes that in the ~/MyPlaybooks/ directory, you have created an Ansible inventory file with the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of the IdM server.
    • The example assumes that the secret.yml Ansible vault stores your ipaadmin_password.
  • You know the IdM administrator password.
  • The group for which you are ensuring the presence of a password policy exists in IdM.


  1. Create an inventory file, for example inventory.file, and define the FQDN of your IdM server in the [ipaserver] section:

  2. Create your Ansible playbook file that defines the password policy whose presence you want to ensure. To simplify this step, copy and modify the example in the /usr/share/doc/ansible-freeipa/playbooks/pwpolicy/pwpolicy_present.yml file:

    - name: Tests
      hosts: ipaserver
      - /home/user_name/MyPlaybooks/secret.yml
      - name: Ensure presence of pwpolicy for group ops
          ipaadmin_password: "{{ ipaadmin_password }}"
          name: ops
          minlife: 7
          maxlife: 49
          history: 5
          priority: 1
          lockouttime: 300
          minlength: 8
          minclasses: 4
          maxfail: 3
          failinterval: 5

    For details on what the individual variables mean, see Password policy attributes.

  3. Run the playbook:

    $ ansible-playbook --vault-password-file=password_file -v -i path_to_inventory_directory/inventory.file path_to_playbooks_directory_/new_pwpolicy_present.yml

You have successfully used an Ansible playbook to ensure that a password policy for the ops group is present in IdM.


The priority of the ops password policy is set to 1, whereas the global_policy password policy has no priority set. For this reason, the ops policy automatically supersedes global_policy for the ops group and is enforced immediately.

global_policy serves as a fallback policy when no group policy is set for a user, and it can never take precedence over a group policy.

Additional resources

19.4. Additional password policy options in IdM

As an Identity Management (IdM) administrator, you can strengthen the default password requirements by enabling additional password policy options based on the libpwquality feature set. The additional password policy options include the following:

Specifies the maximum acceptable number of same consecutive characters in the new password.
Specifies the maximum length of monotonic character sequences in the new password. Examples of such a sequence are 12345 or fedcb. Most such passwords will not pass the simplicity check. The only exception is when the sequence is only a minor part of the password.
If nonzero, checks whether the password, with possible modifications, matches a word in a dictionary. Currently libpwquality performs the dictionary check using the cracklib library.
If nonzero, checks whether the password, with possible modifications, contains the user name in some form. It is not performed for user names shorter than 3 characters.

You cannot apply the additional password policy options to existing passwords. If you apply any of the additional options, IdM automatically sets the --minlength option, the minimum number of characters in a password, to 6 characters.


In a mixed environment with RHEL 7 and RHEL 8 servers, you can enforce the additional password policy settings only on servers running on RHEL 8.4 and later. If a user is logged in to an IdM client and the IdM client is communicating with an IdM server running on RHEL 8.3 or earlier, then the new password policy requirements set by the system administrator will not be applied. To ensure consistent behavior, upgrade or update all servers to RHEL 8.4 and later.

Additional resources:

19.5. Applying additional password policy options to an IdM group

This section describes how to apply additional password policy options in Identity Management (IdM). The example describes how to strengthen the password policy for the managers group by making sure that the new passwords do not contain the users' respective user names and that the passwords contain no more than two identical characters in succession.


  • You are logged in as an IdM administrator.
  • The managers group exists in IdM.
  • The managers password policy exists in IdM.


  1. Apply the user name check to all new passwords suggested by the users in the managers group:

    $ ipa pwpolicy-mod --usercheck=True managers

    If you do not specify the name of the password policy, the default global_policy is modified.

  2. Set the maximum number of identical consecutive characters to 2 in the managers password policy:

    $ ipa pwpolicy-mod --maxrepeat=2 managers

    A password now will not be accepted if it contains more than 2 identical consecutive characters. For example, the eR873mUi111YJQ combination is unacceptable because it contains three 1s in succession.


  1. Add a test user named test_user:

    $ ipa user-add test_user
    First name: test
    Last name: user
    Added user "test_user"
  2. Add the test user to the managers group:

    1. In the IdM Web UI, click IdentityGroupsUser Groups.
    2. Click managers.
    3. Click Add.
    4. In the Add users into user group 'managers' page, check test_user.
    5. Click the > arrow to move the user to the Prospective column.
    6. Click Add.
  3. Reset the password for the test user:

    1. Go to IdentityUsers.
    2. Click test_user.
    3. In the Actions menu, click Reset Password.
    4. Enter a temporary password for the user.
  4. On the command line, try to obtain a Kerberos ticket-granting ticket (TGT) for the test_user:

    $ kinit test_user
    1. Enter the temporary password.
    2. The system informs you that you must change your password. Enter a password that contains the user name of test_user:

      Password expired. You must change it now.
      Enter new password:
      Enter it again:

      Kerberos does not have fine-grained error password policy reporting and, in certain cases, does not provide a clear reason why a password was rejected.

    3. The system informs you that the entered password was rejected. Enter a password that contains three or more identical characters in succession:

      Password change rejected: Password not changed.
      Unspecified password quality failure while trying to change password.
      Please try again.
      Enter new password:
      Enter it again:
    4. The system informs you that the entered password was rejected. Enter a password that meets the criteria of the managers password policy:

      Password change rejected: Password not changed.
      Unspecified password quality failure while trying to change password.
      Please try again.
      Enter new password:
      Enter it again:
  5. View the obtained TGT:

    $ klist
    Ticket cache: KCM:0:33945
    Default principal: test_user@IDM.EXAMPLE.COM
    Valid starting       Expires              Service principal
    07/07/2021 12:44:44  07/08/2021 12:44:44  krbtgt@IDM.EXAMPLE.COM@IDM.EXAMPLE.COM

The managers password policy now works correctly for users in the managers group.