Plan Your Authentication Deployment

The following are key questions to consider before you implement an authentication solution for administrators who access the firewall and end users who access services and applications through Captive Portal.
For both end users and administrators, consider:
  • How can you leverage your existing security infrastructure? Usually, integrating the firewall with an existing infrastructure is faster and cheaper than setting up a new, separate solution just for firewall services. The firewall can integrate with Multi-Factor Authentication, SAML, Kerberos, TACACS+, RADIUS, and LDAP servers. If your users access services and applications that are external to your network, you can use SAML to integrate the firewall with an identity provider (IdP) that controls access to both external and internal services and applications.
  • How can you optimize the user experience? If you don’t want users to authenticate manually and you have a public key infrastructure, you can implement certificate authentication. Another option is to implement Kerberos or SAML single sign-on (SSO) so that users can access multiple services and applications after logging in to just one. If your network requires additional security, you can combine certificate authentication with interactive (challenge-response) authentication.
  • Do you require special user accounts that you don’t manage through the directory servers that your organization reserves for regular accounts? For example, you might define a superuser account that is local to the firewall so that you can access the firewall even if the directory server is down. You can configure Local Authentication for these special-purpose accounts.
    External Authentication Services are usually preferable to local authentication because they provide central account management, reliable authentication services, and usually logging and troubleshooting features.
  • Are the user names for your user accounts properly formatted? Leveraging SAML, Kerberos, TACACS+, RADIUS, and LDAP authentication requires all user names adhere to the regular expression Linux login name rule. User names must have the format
    This means that:
    • The first character of the user name must be an upper or lower case alphabetical letter, a number (0-9), or either
      (underscore) or
    • Other than the first and last characters, the user name may contain upper or lower case alphabetical characters, numbers (0-9), and
      (period), or
      (dash). The maximum length is 30 characters excluding the first and last characters.
    • The last character of the user name may be an upper or lower case alphabetical letter, a number (0-9), or
      , or
    Adhering to the regular expression Linux login name rule is required for PAN-OS administrators only. It is not required for GlobalProtect and Captive Portal users.
For end users only, consider:
  • Which services and applications are more sensitive than others? For example, you might want stronger authentication for key financial documents than for search engines. To protect your most sensitive services and applications, you can configure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to ensure that each user authenticates using multiple methods (factors) when accessing those services and applications. To accommodate a variety of security needs, Configure Authentication Policy rules that trigger MFA or single factor authentication (such as login credentials or certificates) based on specific services, applications, and end users. Other ways to reduce your attack surface include network segmentation and user groups for allowed applications.
For administrators only, consider:
  • Do you use an external server to centrally manage authorization for all administrative accounts? By defining Vendor-Specific Attributes (VSAs) on the external server, you can quickly change administrative role assignments through your directory service instead of reconfiguring settings on the firewall. VSAs also enable you to specify access domains for administrators of firewalls with multiple virtual systems. SAML, TACACS+, and RADIUS support external authorization.

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