Chapter 1. Vaults in IdM
This chapter describes vaults in Identity Management (IdM). It introduces the following topics:
- The concept of the vault.
- The different roles associated with a vault.
- The different types of vaults available in IdM based on the level of security and access control.
- The different types of vaults available in IdM based on ownership.
- The concept of vault containers.
- The basic commands for managing vaults in IdM.
- Installing the key recovery authority (KRA), which is a prerequisite for using vaults in IdM.
1.1. Vaults and their benefits
A vault is a useful feature for those Identity Management (IdM) users who want to keep all their sensitive data stored securely but conveniently in one place. This section explains the various types of vaults and their uses, and which vault you should choose based on your requirements.
A vault is a secure location in (IdM) for storing, retrieving, sharing, and recovering a secret. A secret is security-sensitive data, usually authentication credentials, that only a limited group of people or entities can access. For example, secrets include:
- private SSH keys
A vault is comparable to a password manager. Just like a password manager, a vault typically requires a user to generate and remember one primary password to unlock and access any information stored in the vault. However, a user can also decide to have a standard vault. A standard vault does not require the user to enter any password to access the secrets stored in the vault.
The purpose of vaults in IdM is to store authentication credentials that allow you to authenticate to external, non-IdM-related services.
Other important characteristics of the IdM vaults are:
- Vaults are only accessible to the vault owner and those IdM users that the vault owner selects to be the vault members. In addition, the IdM administrator has access to the vault.
- If a user does not have sufficient privileges to create a vault, an IdM administrator can create the vault and set the user as its owner.
- Users and services can access the secrets stored in a vault from any machine enrolled in the IdM domain.
- One vault can only contain one secret, for example, one file. However, the file itself can contain multiple secrets such as passwords, keytabs or certificates.
Vault is only available from the IdM command line (CLI), not from the IdM Web UI.
1.2. Vault owners, members, and administrators
Identity Management (IdM) distinguishes the following vault user types:
- Vault owner
A vault owner is a user or service with basic management privileges on the vault. For example, a vault owner can modify the properties of the vault or add new vault members.
Each vault must have at least one owner. A vault can also have multiple owners.
- Vault member
- A vault member is a user or service that can access a vault created by another user or service.
- Vault administrator
Vault administrators have unrestricted access to all vaults and are allowed to perform all vault operations.Note
Symmetric and asymmetric vaults are protected with a password or key and apply special access control rules (see Vault types). The administrator must meet these rules to:
- Access secrets in symmetric and asymmetric vaults.
- Change or reset the vault password or key.
A vault administrator is any user with the
Vault Administratorsprivilege. In the context of the role-based access control (RBAC) in IdM, a privilege is a group of permissions that you can apply to a role.
- Vault User
The vault user represents the user in whose container the vault is located. The
Vault userinformation is displayed in the output of specific commands, such as
$ ipa vault-show my_vault Vault name: my_vault Type: standard Owner users: user Vault user: user
For details on vault containers and user vaults, see Vault containers.
- Certain owner and member privileges depend on the type of the vault. See Standard, symmetric and asymmetric vaults for details.
1.3. Standard, symmetric, and asymmetric vaults
Based on the level of security and access control, IdM classifies vaults into the following types:
- Standard vaults
- Vault owners and vault members can archive and retrieve the secrets without having to use a password or key.
- Symmetric vaults
- Secrets in the vault are protected with a symmetric key. Vault owners and members can archive and retrieve the secrets, but they must provide the vault password.
- Asymmetric vaults
- Secrets in the vault are protected with an asymmetric key. Users archive the secret using a public key and retrieve it using a private key. Vault members can only archive secrets, while vault owners can do both, archive and retrieve secrets.
1.5. Vault containers
A vault container is a collection of vaults. The table below lists the default vault containers that Identity Management (IdM) provides.
Table 1.2. Default vault containers in IdM
A private container for a user
Stores user vaults for a particular user
A private container for a service
Stores service vaults for a particular service
A container for multiple users and services
Stores vaults that can be shared by multiple users or services
IdM creates user and service containers for each user or service automatically when the first private vault for the user or service is created. After the user or service is deleted, IdM removes the container and its contents.
1.6. Basic IdM vault commands
This section describes basic commands you can use to manage Identity Management (IdM) vaults. The table below contains a list of
ipa vault-* commands with the explanation of their purpose.
Before running any
ipa vault-* command, install the Key Recovery Authority (KRA) certificate system component on one or more of the servers in your IdM domain. For details, see Installing the Key Recovery Authority in IdM.
Table 1.3. Basic IdM vault commands with explanations
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Displays conceptual information about IdM vaults and sample vault commands.
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When accessing a vault as a vault member, you must specify the vault owner. If you do not specify the vault owner, IdM informs you that it did not find the vault:
[admin@server ~]$ ipa vault-show user_vault ipa: ERROR: user_vault: vault not found
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When accessing a shared vault, you must specify that the vault you want to access is a shared vault. Otherwise, IdM informs you it did not find the vault:
[admin@server ~]$ ipa vault-show shared_vault ipa: ERROR: shared_vault: vault not found