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Provisioners

Provisioners are people or code that are registered with the CA and authorized to issue "provisioning tokens". Provisioning tokens are single-use tokens that can be used to authenticate with the CA and get a certificate.

JWK

JWK is the default provisioner type. It uses public-key cryptography to sign and validate a JSON Web Token (JWT).

The step CLI tool will create a JWK provisioner when step ca init is used, and it also contains commands to add (step ca provisioner add) and remove (step ca provisioner remove) JWK provisioners.

In the ca.json configuration file, a complete JWK provisioner example looks like:

{
    "type": "JWK",
    "name": "you@smallstep.com",
    "key": {
        "use": "sig",
        "kty": "EC",
        "kid": "NPM_9Gz_omTqchS6Xx9Yfvs-EuxkYo6VAk4sL7gyyM4",
        "crv": "P-256",
        "alg": "ES256",
        "x": "bBI5AkO9lwvDuWGfOr0F6ttXC-ZRzJo8kKn5wTzRJXI",
        "y": "rcfaqE-EEZgs34Q9SSH3f9Ua5a8dKopXNfEzDD8KRlU"
    },
    "encryptedKey": "eyJhbGciOiJQQkVTMi1IUzI1NitBMTI4S1ciLCJjdHkiOiJqd2sranNvbiIsImVuYyI6IkEyNTZHQ00iLCJwMmMiOjEwMDAwMCwicDJzIjoiTlV6MjlEb3hKMVdOaFI3dUNjaGdYZyJ9.YN7xhz6RAbz_9bcuXoymBOj8bOg23ETAdmSCRyHpxGekkV0q3STYYg.vo1oBnZsZjgRu5Ln.Xop8AvZ74h_im2jxeaq-hYYWnaK_eF7MGr4xcZGodMUxp-hGPqS85oWkyprkQLYt1-jXTURfpejtmPeB4-sxgj7OFxMYYus84BdkG9BZgSBmMN9SqZItOv4pqg_NwQA0bv9g9A_e-N6QUFanxuYQsEPX_-IwWBDbNKyN9bXbpEQa0FKNVsTvFahGzOxQngXipi265VADkh8MJLjYerplKIbNeOJJbLd9CbS9fceLvQUNr3ACGgAejSaWmeNUVqbho1lY4882iS8QVx1VzjluTXlAMdSUUDHArHEihz008kCyF0YfvNdGebyEDLvTmF6KkhqMpsWn3zASYBidc9k._ch9BtvRRhcLD838itIQlw",
    "claims": {
        "minTLSCertDuration": "5m",
        "maxTLSCertDuration": "24h",
        "defaultTLSCertDuration": "24h",
        "disableRenewal": false
    }
}
  • type (mandatory): for a JWK provisioner it must be JWK, this field is case insensitive.

  • name (mandatory): identifies the provisioner, a good practice is to use an email address or a descriptive string that allows the identification of the owner, but it can be any non-empty string.

  • key (mandatory): is the JWK (JSON Web Key) representation of a public key used to validate a signed token.

  • encryptedKey (recommended): is the encrypted private key used to sign a token. It's a JWE compact string containing the JWK representation of the private key.

    We can use step to see the private key encrypted with the password asdf:

    $ echo ey...lw | step crypto jwe decrypt  | jq
    Please enter the password to decrypt the content encryption key:
    {
      "use": "sig",
      "kty": "EC",
      "kid": "NPM_9Gz_omTqchS6Xx9Yfvs-EuxkYo6VAk4sL7gyyM4",
      "crv": "P-256",
      "alg": "ES256",
      "x": "bBI5AkO9lwvDuWGfOr0F6ttXC-ZRzJo8kKn5wTzRJXI",
      "y": "rcfaqE-EEZgs34Q9SSH3f9Ua5a8dKopXNfEzDD8KRlU",
      "d": "rsjCCM_2FQ-uk7nywBEQHl84oaPo4mTpYDgXAu63igE"
    }

    If the ca.json does not contain the encryptedKey, the private key must be provided using the --key flag of the step ca token to be able to sign the token.

  • claims (optional): overwrites the default claims set in the authority. You can set one or more of the following claims:

    • minTLSCertDuration: do not allow certificates with a duration less than this value.

    • maxTLSCertDuration: do not allow certificates with a duration greater than this value.

    • defaultTLSCertDuration: if no certificate validity period is specified, use this value.

    • disableIssuedAtCheck: disable a check verifying that provisioning tokens must be issued after the CA has booted. This claim is one prevention against token reuse. The default value is false. Do not change this unless you know what you are doing.

OIDC

An OIDC provisioner allows a user to get a certificate after authenticating himself with an OAuth OpenID Connect identity provider. The ID token provided will be used on the CA authentication, and by default, the certificate will only have the user's email as a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) Extension.

One of the most common providers and the one we'll use in the following example is G-Suite.

{
    "type": "OIDC",
    "name": "Google",
    "clientID": "1087160488420-8qt7bavg3qesdhs6it824mhnfgcfe8il.apps.googleusercontent.com",
    "clientSecret": "udTrOT3gzrO7W9fDPgZQLfYJ",
    "configurationEndpoint": "https://accounts.google.com/.well-known/openid-configuration",
    "admins": ["you@smallstep.com"],
    "domains": ["smallstep.com"],
    "claims": {
        "maxTLSCertDuration": "8h",
        "defaultTLSCertDuration": "2h",
        "disableRenewal": true
    }
}
  • type (mandatory): indicates the provisioner type and must be OIDC.

  • name (mandatory): a string used to identify the provider when the CLI is used.

  • clientID (mandatory): the client id provided by the identity provider used to initialize the authentication flow.

  • clientSecret (mandatory): the client secret provided by the identity provider used to get the id token. Some identity providers might use an empty string as a secret.

  • configurationEndpoing (mandatory): is the HTTP address used by the CA to get the OpenID Connect configuration and public keys used to validate the tokens.

  • admins (optional): is the list of emails that will be able to get certificates with custom SANs. If a user is not an admin, it will only be able to get a certificate with its email in it.

  • domains (optional): is the list of domains valid. If provided only the emails with the provided domains will be able to authenticate.

  • claims (optional): overwrites the default claims set in the authority, see the JWK section for all the options.

Provisioners for Cloud Identities

Step certificates can grant certificates to code running in a machine without any other authentication than the one provided by the cloud. Usually, this is implemented with some kind of signed document, but the information contained on them might not be enough to generate a certificate. Due to this limitation, the cloud identities use by default a trust model called Trust On First Use (TOFU).

The Trust On First Use model allows the use of more permissive CSRs that can have custom SANs that cannot be validated. But it comes with the limitation that you can only grant a certificate once. After this first grant, the same machine will need to renew the certificate using mTLS, and the CA will block any other attempt to grant a certificate to that instance.

AWS

The AWS provisioner allows granting a certificate to an Amazon EC2 instance using the Instance Identity Documents

The step CLI will generate a custom JWT token containing the instance identity document and its signature and the CA will grant a certificate after validating it.

In the ca.json, an AWS provisioner looks like:

{
    "type": "AWS",
    "name": "Amazon Web Services",
    "accounts": ["1234567890"],
    "disableCustomSANs": false,
    "disableTrustOnFirstUse": false,
    "instanceAge": "1h",
    "claims": {
        "maxTLSCertDuration": "2160h",
        "defaultTLSCertDuration": "2160h"
    }
}
  • type (mandatory): indicates the provisioner type and must be AWS.

  • name (mandatory): a string used to identify the provider when the CLI is used.

  • accounts (optional): the list of AWS account numbers that are allowed to use this provisioner. If none is specified, all AWS accounts will be valid.

  • disableCustomSANs (optional): by default custom SANs are valid, but if this option is set to true only the SANs available in the instance identity document will be valid, these are the private IP and the DNS ip-<private-ip>.<region>.compute.internal.

  • disableTrustOnFirstUse (optional): by default only one certificate will be granted per instance, but if the option is set to true this limit is not set and different tokens can be used to get different certificates.

  • instanceAge (optional): the maximum age of an instance to grant a certificate. The instance age is a string using the duration format.

  • claims (optional): overwrites the default claims set in the authority, see the JWK section for all the options.

GCP

The GCP provisioner grants certificates to Google Compute Engine instance using its identity token. The CA will validate the JWT and grant a certificate.

In the ca.json, a GCP provisioner looks like:

{
    "type": "GCP",
    "name": "Google Cloud",
    "serviceAccounts": ["1234567890"],
    "projectIDs": ["project-id"],
    "disableCustomSANs": false,
    "disableTrustOnFirstUse": false,
    "instanceAge": "1h",
    "claims": {
        "maxTLSCertDuration": "2160h",
        "defaultTLSCertDuration": "2160h"
    }
}
  • type (mandatory): indicates the provisioner type and must be GCP.

  • name (mandatory): a string used to identify the provider when the CLI is used.

  • serviceAccounts (optional): the list of service account numbers that are allowed to use this provisioner. If none is specified, all service accounts will be valid.

  • projectIDs (optional): the list of project identifiers that are allowed to use this provisioner. If non is specified all project will be valid.

  • disableCustomSANs (optional): by default custom SANs are valid, but if this option is set to true only the SANs available in the instance identity document will be valid, these are the DNS <instance-name>.c.<project-id>.internal and <instance-name>.<zone>.c.<project-id>.internal

  • disableTrustOnFirstUse (optional): by default only one certificate will be granted per instance, but if the option is set to true this limit is not set and different tokens can be used to get different certificates.

  • instanceAge (optional): the maximum age of an instance to grant a certificate. The instance age is a string using the duration format.

  • claims (optional): overwrites the default claims set in the authority, see the JWK section for all the options.

Azure

The Azure provisioner grants certificates to Microsoft Azure instances using the managed identities tokens. The CA will validate the JWT and grant a certificate.

In the ca.json, an Azure provisioner looks like:

{
    "type": "Azure",
    "name": "Microsoft Azure",
    "tenantId": "b17c217c-84db-43f0-babd-e06a71083cda",
    "resourceGroups": ["backend", "accounting"],
    "audience": "https://management.azure.com/",
    "disableCustomSANs": false,
    "disableTrustOnFirstUse": false,
    "claims": {
        "maxTLSCertDuration": "2160h",
        "defaultTLSCertDuration": "2160h"
    }
}
  • type (mandatory): indicates the provisioner type and must be Azure.

  • name (mandatory): a string used to identify the provider when the CLI is used.

  • tenantId (mandatory): the Azure account tenant id for this provisioner. This id is the Directory ID available in the Azure Active Directory properties.

  • audience (optional): defaults to https://management.azure.com/ but it can be changed if necessary.

  • resourceGroups (optional): the list of resource group names that are allowed to use this provisioner. If none is specified, all resource groups will be valid.

  • disableCustomSANs (optional): by default custom SANs are valid, but if this option is set to true only the SANs available in the token will be valid, in Azure only the virtual machine name is available.

  • disableTrustOnFirstUse (optional): by default only one certificate will be granted per instance, but if the option is set to true this limit is not set and different tokens can be used to get different certificates.

  • claims (optional): overwrites the default claims set in the authority, see the JWK section for all the options.

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