With the introduction of NetScaler 12.0 (build 51.24 to be exact), Citrix enhanced the value of NetScaler Unified Gateway even more by embedding the native support for one-time password (OTP). Initially, the OTP mobile apps were provided by third-parties, for example, Google and Microsoft Authenticators, but recently Citrix added this support to their own Citrix SSO mobile app.
I will not describe the details and benefits of NetScaler’s native OTP in this article. You are welcome to read about the solution in the Citrix Blog Post NetScaler Unified Gateway Provides One Time Password (OTP), Natively or watch the YouTube video here. There are several very detailed guides available to help you understand and configure the feature, such as Carl Stalhood and George Spiers guides as well as Citrix’s own NetScaler One Time Password (OTP) Guide. In this blog post I will share with you how we can limit the number of enrolled devices to one.
We first got this question from one of our clients, but after that we heard it many times from partners, fellow Citrix experts and other clients. At Citrix Synergy 2018 in Anaheim we shared the solution with Citrix NetScaler Engineering Team – the creators of nFactor and OTP support. Several Citrix customers and partners asked for this during Synergy sessions, so finally (sorry for the delay, guys) I am publishing it here.
Initially, the number of devices that can be enrolled for OTP was not limited. This, to some extent, defeated the purpose of the Multi Factor Authentication with OTP, as any user could register an OTP device as long as the user’s credentials were known. Citrix will limit this in the next builds of 12.0 and 12.1 to five devices, but even this may be unacceptable to most clients. In their guides Carl and George recommend limiting the access to OTP Management to internal networks only by configuring the Login Schema Policy with CLIENT.IP.SRC.IN_SUBNET(subnet/mask) expression:
http.req.cookie.value(“NSC_TASS”).eq(“manageotp“) && client.IP.SRC.IN_SUBNET(10.2.0.0/16)
We decided to take this further:
- Prevent enrollment of any additional devices externally. This means the user can enroll OTP device(s) if he has not enrolled any devices yet. However, we will prevent device enrollment from external networks if the user has previously enrolled an OTP device.
- Do not limit the number of devices that can be enrolled from internal networks.
OTP stores device enrollment secrets in an Active Directory attribute that accepts Strings. Citrix’s documentation uses the userParameters Active Directory attribute. This guide assumes that you are using the standard (recommended) userParameters AD attribute.
Once an OTP device is enrolled/registered, NetScaler will write a string into the userParameters attribute of the user in the following format:
The trick is to take the userParameters attribute and write it to NetScaler’s internal User Attribute (I will use Attribute #7 in this guide), so it can later be used in the Login Schema and Authentication Policy expressions to evaluate if the user had already enrolled a device.
Since we have to know whether or not NetScaler should display the second (OTP) password field after the LDAP authentication happens, we will modify the way we present the credential prompts to users. To sum it up, instead of this:
As a bonus this method gives us more flexibility to check other conditions before deciding to prompt the user for the second authentication factor. For example, check the AD Group membership. Here is an example scenario where the company security policy requirements are as follows:
- Regular users should not be prompted for 2FA to access the Unified Gateway
- Privileged (SSL VPN or say RDP Proxy) users must be prompted for 2FA to get access
In this case, we can check the user’s AD Group membership before displaying the Authenticator Passcode prompt.
We are going to build an authentication flow that includes the native OTP functionality. Here is the list of requirements:
- The solution will support both single and multi-factor authentication
- Only members of CTX-NetScaler-OTP AD Group will have the ability to use multi-factor authentication and enroll their devices
- Users that are not members of CTX-NetScaler-OTP AD Group will be able to login with single-factor (LDAP) and have limited access to the Unified Gateway resources (managed by Session Policies, filtered by the AD Group)
- Users will be limited to enroll a single device if accessing the Unified Gateway externally
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