Please note: We take Vault's security and our users' trust very seriously. If you believe you have found a security issue in Vault, please responsibly disclose by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
vault-ssh-helper is a counterpart to HashiCorp
Vault's SSH backend. It allows a machine
to consume One-Time-Passwords (OTP) created by Vault servers by allowing them
to be used as client authentication credentials at SSH connection time.
All of the remote hosts that belong to the SSH backend's OTP-type roles will
need this helper installed. In addition, each host must have its SSH
configuration changed to enable keyboard-interactive authentication and
redirect its client authentication responsibility to
Vault-authenticated users contact the Vault server and retrieve an OTP issued
for a specific username and IP address. While establishing an SSH connection to
the host, the
vault-ssh-helper binary reads the OTP from the password prompt
and sends it to the Vault server for verification. Client authentication is
successful (and the SSH connection allowed) only if the Vault server verifies
the OTP. True to its name, once the OTP has been used a single time for
authentication, it is removed from Vault and cannot be used again.
vault-ssh-helper is not a PAM module, but it does the job of one.
vault-ssh-helper's binary is run as an external command using
with access to the entered password (in this case, the issued OTP). Successful
execution and exit of this command is a PAM 'requisite' for authentication to
be successful. If the OTP is not validated, the binary exits with a non-zero
status and authentication fails.
PAM modules are generally shared object files; rather than writing and
maintaining a PAM module in C,
vault-ssh-helper is written in Go and invoked
as an external binary. This allows
vault-ssh-helper to be contained within
one code base with known, testable behavior. It also allows other
authentication systems that are not PAM-based to invoke
take advantage of its capabilities.
||The path to the configuration file. Configuration options are detailed below.|
Download the latest version of
vault-ssh-helper at releases.hashicorp.com.
Build and Install
You'll first need Go installed on your machine (version 1.8+ is required).
Go on your machine and set
GOPATH accordingly. Clone this
repository into $GOPATH/src/github.com/hashicorp/vault-ssh-helper. Install all
of the dependent binaries like
vet, etc. by bootstrapping the
$ make updatedeps
Build and install
$ make $ make install
Follow the instructions below to modify your SSH server configuration, PAM
vault-ssh-helper configuration. Check if
is installed and configured correctly and also is able to communicate with
Vault server properly. Before verifying
vault-ssh-helper, make sure that the
Vault server is up and running and it has mounted the SSH backend. Also, make
sure that the mount path of the SSH backend is properly updated in
vault-ssh-helper's config file:
$ vault-ssh-helper -verify-only -config=<path-to-config-file> Using SSH Mount point: ssh vault-ssh-helper verification successful!
If you intend to contribute to this project, compile a development version of
make dev. This will put the binary in the
$ make dev
If you're developing a specific package, you can run tests for just that
package by specifying the
TEST variable. For example below, only
package tests will be run.
$ make test TEST=./helper ...
If you intend to cross compile the binary, run
[Note]: This configuration is applicable for Ubuntu 14.04. SSH/PAM configurations differ with each platform and distribution.
vault-ssh-helper's configuration is written in HashiCorp Configuration
Language (HCL). By proxy, this means that
vault-ssh-helper's configuration is JSON-compatible. For more information,
please see the HCL Specification.
||[Required] Address of the Vault server.|
||[Required] Mount point of SSH backend in Vault server.|
||Namespace of the SSH mount. (Vault Enterprise only)|
||Path of a PEM-encoded CA certificate file used to verify the Vault server's TLS certificate.
||Path to directory of PEM-encoded CA certificate files used to verify the Vault server's TLS certiciate.
||Skip TLS certificate verification. Use with caution.|
||List of comma-separated Vault SSH roles. The OTP verification response from the server will contain the name of the role against which the OTP was issued. Specify which roles are allowed to login using this configuration. Set this to
||List of comma-separated CIDR blocks. If the IP used by the user to connect to the host is different than the address(es) of the host's network interface(s) (for instance, if the address is NAT-ed), then
vault_addr = "https://vault.example.com:8200" ssh_mount_point = "ssh" namespace = "my_namespace" ca_cert = "/etc/vault-ssh-helper.d/vault.crt" tls_skip_verify = false allowed_roles = "*"
/etc/pam.d/sshd file as follows; each option will be explained
#@include common-auth auth requisite pam_exec.so quiet expose_authtok log=/tmp/vaultssh.log /usr/local/bin/vault-ssh-helper -config=/etc/vault-ssh-helper.d/config.hcl auth optional pam_unix.so not_set_pass use_first_pass nodelay
First, the previous authentication mechanism
common-auth, which is the
standard Linux authentication module, is commented out, in favor of using our
Next the authentication configuration for
vault-ssh-helper is set.
||PAM type that the configuration applies to.|
||If the external command fails, the authentication should fail.|
||PAM module that runs an external command (
||Suppress the exit status of
||Binary can read the password from stdin.|
||Absolute path to
||The path to
The third line works around a bug between some versions of
vault-ssh-helper that causes a successful authentication from
vault-ssh-helper to fail due to some resources not being properly released.
Because it is marked as optional, it is essentially a no-op that ensures that
PAM cleans up successfully, avoiding the bug.
||PAM type that the configuration applies to.|
||If the module fails, authentication does not fail (but if the OTP was invalid, we will have already failed previously).|
||Linux's standard authentication module.|
||Module should not be allowed to set or modify passwords.|
||Do not display password prompt again. Use the password from the previous module.|
||Avoids the induced delay after entering a wrong password.|
/etc/ssh/sshd_config file. Note that for many distributions these
are the default options; you may not need to set them explicitly but should
verify their values if not.
ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes UsePAM yes PasswordAuthentication no
||[Required] Enable challenge response (keyboard-interactive) authentication.|
||[Required] Enable PAM authentication modules.|
||Disable password authentication.|