Zabbix: Secure LDAP (LDAPS)

18th Feb 2021

This article describes how to Secure LDAP (LDAP over TLS) on Zabbix LDAP authentication.

A bit of a theory

Despite the topic is quite simple I am seeing a lot of questions about this so let's get started. I assume that you know what LDAP is if you are planning to use it so what is secure LDP (LDAPS)? It's still the same old LDAP but encapsulated into TLS. I am not going to give any links here about what TLS is anybody can find plenty of information in the Internet but essentially before any byte of data sent between a Client and a Server secure negotiation happens between them to establish 'trust'. If this succeeds then all the data sent-received further is encrypted and cannot be (easily) read by any third-party. TLS certificate is one of the pillars of this secure communication. The certificate is the first thing sent by the server to a client and the client must decide whether it trusts this certificate (server) and obviously proceed only if it does. Note: there might be a case when a server also needs a certificate from client to validate client (mutual authentication) but this is rare case and not covered in this article. Thus we came to a question: how do we tell client to trust this server's certificate?

LDAPS in Zabbix

I always prefer to play with something that can be configured and tested as opposed to just theory so in this article we use two containers:

docker run -p 3389:389 -p 6636:636 --name openldap-server --detach bgmot42/openldap-server:0.1.1
docker run -p 8080:80 --name zabbix-appliance -t --link openldap-server:ldap-host -d bgmot42/zabbix-appliance-ubuntu:5.0.8-bg

By doing the above you will start two docker containers:

If you don't want (of for some reason uncomfortable) to play with dockers Authentication using LDAP can be set up in any Zabbix server following instructions at this link.

First of all make sure LDAP ("non-secure") works properly - login into Zabbix with default credentials Admin/zabbix and configure LDAP authentication (all passwords are plain "password"):

Zabbix LDAP settings

Click Test and you should get:

Zabbix LDAP login successful

Now switch to LDAS by putting ldaps://ldap-host in LDAP host field. If ldap:// or ldaps:// is used in LDAP host field is used then the value in Port field is ignored but for consistency put 636 in Port field (default port for LDAPS). Now click Test again  and it should miserably fail:

Zabbix LDAPS test failed

So why is if failing? Most probably LDAP client does not trust LDAP server's certificate. Fortunately it is very easy to see what certificate the server is using. Login into Zabbix server (over SSH) and just execute:

root@614f72b420c6:/var/lib/zabbix# openssl s_client -port 636 -connect ldap-host -showcerts
CONNECTED(00000003)
<snip>
---
Certificate chain
 0 s:C = CA, ST = Ontario, L = Washago, O = BGmot, OU = Root operations, CN = ldap-host
   i:CN = BGmot CA
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----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-----END CERTIFICATE-----
 1 s:CN = BGmot CA
   i:CN = BGmot CA
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----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-----END CERTIFICATE-----
---
Server certificate
subject=C = CA, ST = Ontario, L = Washago, O = BGmot, OU = Root operations, CN = ldap-host

issuer=CN = BGmot CA

---
<snip>

Find "Certificate change" where we can see two certificates ("s:" stands for "subject" and "i:" stands for "Issuer") numbered as 0 and 1. Certificate 0 is this server's certificate (look at CN = ldap-host in its subject) and this certificate is signed by certificate 1 -  BGmot CA - it's a "Certificate Authority" certificate as it is signed by itself.

Now you need to decide whether we want to trust this particular certificate (certificate 0) or any certificate signed by "BGmot CA". I highly advise the second variant as individual certificates tend to expire and if it happens then your LDAPS will stop working. All we need to do is
1) store this certificate in a file. In this example I put it in /etc/ldap/certs/ca.crt (create /etc/ldap/certs folder). Other Linux distributives might have /etc/openldap instead of /etc/ldap. So the file should have:

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----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-----END CERTIFICATE-----

Make sure the user Zabbix server is running under has access to this file.
Now tell OpenLDAP client to trust any certificate signed by this CA by adding just one line to /etc/ldap/ldap.conf:

TLS_CACERT      /etc/ldap/certs/ca.crt

Let's test again in Zabbix WebUI:

Zabbis LDAPS test successful

You are all set!

If your LDAP server's certificate is signed by a cert and which in turn signed by a CA cert then you need to put the whole certificate chain not including just the server's certificate. In this case the file should have .pem extension (ca.pem).

WARNING: do not user IP addresses instead of hostnames/FQDNs, the value in LDAP host field must match what the server's certificate was issued for!

Troubleshooting

Conversation the Zabbix server is trying to make with LDAP server can be simulated from command line just install ldap-utils package (for Ubuntu, in your distro the name might be a bit different) on Zabbix server.

First of all make sure you can perform the simplest operation with LDAP and LDAPs:

$ ldapwhoami -x -H ldap://ldap-host
anonymous
$ ldapwhoami -x -H ldaps://ldap-host
anonymous

If you get an error, add debugging (sometimes very helpful!):

$ ldapwhoami -x -H ldaps://172.17.0.2 -d 4
TLS: hostname (172.17.0.2) does not match common name in certificate (ldap-host).
TLS: can't connect: (unknown error code).
ldap_sasl_bind(SIMPLE): Can't contact LDAP server (-1)

Finally you can perform the whole search:

$ ldapsearch -D "cn=ldap_search,dc=example,dc=org" -w password -b "ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org" -H ldaps://ldap-host uid
# extended LDIF
#
# LDAPv3
# base <ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org> with scope subtree
# filter: (objectclass=*)
# requesting: uid 
#

# Users, example.org
dn: ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org

# user1, Users, example.org
dn: uid=user1,ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org
uid: user1

# user2, Users, example.org
dn: uid=user2,ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org
uid: user2

# user3, Users, example.org
dn: uid=user3,ou=Users,dc=example,dc=org
uid: user3

# search result
search: 2
result: 0 Success

# numResponses: 5
# numEntries: 4

 

TagsZabbix  LDAPS