Single Sign-On (SSO) for SSH


The commercial edition of Teleport allows users to retreive their SSH credentials through a Single Sign-On (SSO) system used by the rest of the organization.

Examples of supported SSO systems include commercial solutions like Okta, Auth0, SailPoint, OneLogin or Active Directory, as well as open source products like Keycloak. Other identity management systems are supported as long as they provide an SSO mechanism based on either SAML or OAuth2/OpenID Connect.

How does SSO work with SSH?

From the user's perspective they need to execute the following command to retreive their SSH certificate.

$ tsh login

Teleport can be configured with a certificate TTL to determine how often a user needs to log in.

tsh login will print a URL into the console which, when opened with a web browser, will open an SSO login prompt, along with the 2FA, as enforced by the SSO provider. If user supplies valid credentials, Teleport will issue an SSH certificate.

Configuring SSO

Teleport works with SSO providers by relying on a concept called "authentication connector". An auth connector is a plugin which controls how a user logs in and which group he or she belongs to.

The following connectors are supported:

  • local connector type uses the built-in user database. This database can be manipulated by the tctl users command.
  • saml connector type uses the SAML protocol to authenticate users and query their group membership.
  • oidc connector type uses the OpenID Connect protocol to authenticate users and query their group membership.

To configure SSO, a Teleport administrator must:

  • Update /etc/teleport.yaml on the auth server to set the default authentication connector.
  • Define the connector resource and save it into a YAML file (like connector.yaml)
  • Create the connector using tctl create connector.yaml.
# snippet from /etc/teleport.yaml on the auth server:
    # defines the default authentication connector type:
        type: saml 

An example of a connector:

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

    - {name: "groups", value: "okta-admin", roles: ["admin"]}
    - {name: "groups", value: "okta-dev", roles: ["dev"]}

     # note that wildcards can also be used. the next line instructs Teleport
     # to assign "admin" role to any user who has the SAML attribute that begins with "admin":
     - { name: "group", value: "admin*", roles: ["admin"] }
     # regular expressions with capture are also supported. the next line instructs Teleport
     # to assign users to roles `admin-1` if his SAML "group" attribute equals 'ssh_admin_1':
     - { name: "group", value: "^ssh_admin_(.*)$", roles: ["admin-$1"] }

  entity_descriptor: |
    <paste SAML XML contents here>
  • See examples/resources directory in the Teleport Github repository for examples of possible connectors.

User Logins

Often it is required to restrict SSO users to their unique UNIX logins when they connect to Teleport nodes. To support this:

  • Use the SSO provider to create a field called "unix_login" (you can use another name).
  • Make sure it's exposed as a claim via SAML/OIDC.
  • Update a Teleport SSH role to include {{external.unix_login}} variable into the list of allowed logins:
kind: role
version: v3
  name: sso_user
    - '{{external.unix_login}}'
      '*': '*'

Multiple SSO Providers

Teleport can also support multiple connectors. This works by supplying a connector name to tsh login via --auth argument:

# use "okta" SAML connector:
$ tsh login --auth=okta

# use local Teleport user DB:
$ tsh login --auth=local --user=admin

Refer to the following guides to configure authentication connectors of both SAML and OIDC types:


Troubleshooting SSO configuration can be challenging. Usually a Teleport administrator must be able to:

  • Ensure that HTTP/TLS certificates are configured properly for both Teleport proxy and the SSO provider.
  • Be able to see what SAML/OIDC claims and values are getting exported and passed by the SSO provider to Teleport.
  • Be able to see how Teleport maps the received claims to role mappings as defined in the connector.

If something is not working, we recommend to:

  • Double-check the host names, tokens and TCP ports in a connector definition.
  • Look into Teleport's audit log for claim mapping problems. It is usually stored on the auth server in the /var/lib/teleport/log directory.