SSH Authentication with Okta

This guide will cover how to configure Okta to issue SSH credentials to specific groups of users. When used in combination with role based access control (RBAC), it allows SSH administrators to define policies like:

Version Warning

This guide requires a commercial edition of Teleport. The open source edition of Teleport only supports Github as an SSO provider.

Enable SAML Authentication

First, configure Teleport auth server to use SAML authentication instead of the local user database. Update /etc/teleport.yaml as shown below and restart the teleport daemon.

        type: saml

Configure Okta

First, create a SAML 2.0 Web App in Okta configuration section

Switch to classic UI Create APP Create APP name

Create Groups

We are going to create two groups: "okta-dev" and "okta-admin":

Create Group Devs

...and the admin:

Create Group Devs

Configure the App

We are going to map the Okta groups we've created above to the SAML Attribute statements (special signed metadata exposed via a SAML XML response).



Configure APP


Notice that we have set "NameID" to the email format and mapped the groups with a wildcard regex in the Group Attribute statements. We have also set the "Audience" and SSO URL to the same value.

Assign Groups

Assign groups and people to your SAML app:

Configure APP

Make sure to download the metadata in the form of an XML document. It will be used it to configure a Teleport connector:

Download metadata

Create a SAML Connector

Now, create a SAML connector resource:

# okta-connector.yaml
kind: saml
version: v2
  name: OktaSAML
  # display allows to set the caption of the "login" button
  # in the Web interface
  display: "Okta SSO"

    - {name: "groups", value: "okta-admin", roles: ["admin"]}
    - {name: "groups", value: "okta-dev", roles: ["dev"]}
  entity_descriptor: |
    <paste SAML XML contents here>

Create the connector using tctl tool:

$ tctl create okta-connector.yaml

Create Teleport Roles

We are going to create 2 roles, privileged role admin who is able to login as root and is capable of administrating the cluster and non-privileged dev.

kind: role
version: v3
  name: admin
    max_session_ttl: 24h
    logins: [root]
      "*": "*"
      - resources: ["*"]
        verbs: ["*"]

The developer role:

kind: role
version: v3
  name: dev
    max_session_ttl: 24h
    logins: [ "{{external.username}}", ubuntu ]
      access: relaxed

Now, create both roles on the auth server:

$ tctl create admin.yaml
$ tctl create dev.yaml


The Web UI will now contain a new button: "Login with Okta". The CLI is the same as before:

$ tsh login

This command will print the SSO login URL (and will try to open it automatically in a browser).


Teleport can use multiple SAML connectors. In this case a connector name can be passed via tsh login --auth=connector_name


Teleport only supports sending party initiated flows for SAML 2.0. This means you can not initiate login from your identity provider, you have to initiate login from either the Teleport Web UI or CLI.


If you get "access denied errors" the number one place to check is the audit log on the Teleport auth server. It is located in /var/lib/teleport/log by default and it will contain the detailed reason why a user's login was denied.

Some errors (like filesystem permissions or misconfigured network) can be diagnosed using Teleport's stderr log, which is usually available via:

$ sudo journalctl -fu teleport

If you wish to increase the verbosity of Teleport's syslog, you can pass --debug flag to teleport start command.

Teleport Enterprise

Teleport Enterprise is built around the open-source core, with premium support and additional, enterprise-grade features. It is for organizations that need to secure critical production infrastructure and meet compliance and audit requirements.

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Teleport Community

Teleport Community provides modern SSH best practices out of the box for managing elastic infrastructure. Teleport Community is open-source software that anyone can download and install for free.

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