Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an additional level of security to your GitLab account. For others to access your account, they would need your username and password and access to your second factor of authentication.

GitLab supports as a second factor of authentication:

  • Time-based one-time passwords (TOTP). When enabled, GitLab prompts you for a code when you sign in. Codes are generated by your one-time password authenticator (for example, a password manager on one of your devices).
  • U2F or WebAuthn devices. You’re prompted to activate your U2F or WebAuthn device (usually by pressing a button on it) when you supply your username and password to sign in. This performs secure authentication on your behalf.

If you set up a device, also set up a TOTP so you can still access your account if you lose the device.

Use personal access tokens with two-factor authentication

When 2FA is enabled, you can’t use your password to authenticate with Git over HTTPS or the GitLab API. You can use a personal access token instead.

Git Credential Manager

For Git over HTTPS, Git Credential Manager (GCM) offers an alternative to personal access tokens. By default, GCM authenticates using OAuth, opening GitLab in your web browser. The first time you authenticate, GitLab asks you to authorize the app. If you remain signed in to GitLab, subsequent authentication requires no interaction.

So you don’t need to reauthenticate on every push, GCM supports caching as well as a variety of platform-specific credential stores that persist between sessions. This feature is useful whether you use personal access tokens or OAuth.

GCM supports GitLab.com out the box. To use with self-managed GitLab, see GitLab support documentation.

Git Credential Manager is developed primarily by GitHub, Inc. It is an open-source project and is supported by the community.

Enable two-factor authentication

Version history

You can enable 2FA:

  • Using a one-time password authenticator. After you enable 2FA, back up your recovery codes.
  • Using a U2F or WebAuthn device.

In GitLab 14.3 and later, your account email must be confirmed to enable 2FA.

Enable one-time password

To enable 2FA with a one-time password:

  1. In GitLab:
    1. Access your User settings.
    2. Select Account.
    3. Select Enable Two-factor Authentication.
  2. On your device (usually your phone):
    1. Install a compatible application. For example:
    2. In the application, add a new entry in one of two ways:
      • Scan the code displayed by GitLab with your device’s camera to add the entry automatically.
      • Enter the details provided to add the entry manually.
  3. In GitLab:
    1. Enter the six-digit pin number from the entry on your device into Pin code.
    2. Enter your current password.
    3. Select Submit.

If you entered the correct pin, GitLab displays a list of recovery codes. Download them and keep them in a safe place.

Enable one-time password using FortiAuthenticator

Introduced in GitLab 13.5 with a flag named forti_authenticator. Disabled by default.

On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is not available. To make it available per user, ask an administrator to enable the feature flag named forti_authenticator. On GitLab.com, this feature is not available.

You can use FortiAuthenticator as a one-time password (OTP) provider in GitLab. Users must:

  • Exist in both FortiAuthenticator and GitLab with the same username.
  • Have FortiToken configured in FortiAuthenticator.

You need a username and access token for FortiAuthenticator. The access_token shown below is the FortAuthenticator access key. To get the token, see the REST API Solution Guide at Fortinet Document Library. GitLab 13.5 has been tested with FortAuthenticator version 6.2.0.

Configure FortiAuthenticator in GitLab. On your GitLab server:

  1. Open the configuration file.

    For Omnibus GitLab:

    sudo editor /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb
    

    For installations from source:

    cd /home/git/gitlab
    sudo -u git -H editor config/gitlab.yml
    
  2. Add the provider configuration:

    For Omnibus package:

    gitlab_rails['forti_authenticator_enabled'] = true
    gitlab_rails['forti_authenticator_host'] = 'forti_authenticator.example.com'
    gitlab_rails['forti_authenticator_port'] = 443
    gitlab_rails['forti_authenticator_username'] = '<some_username>'
    gitlab_rails['forti_authenticator_access_token'] = 's3cr3t'
    

    For installations from source:

    forti_authenticator:
      enabled: true
      host: forti_authenticator.example.com
      port: 443
      username: <some_username>
      access_token: s3cr3t
    
  3. Save the configuration file.
  4. Reconfigure (Omnibus GitLab) or restart (GitLab installed from source).

Enable one-time password using FortiToken Cloud

Introduced in GitLab 13.7 with a flag named forti_token_cloud. Disabled by default.

On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is not available. To make it available per user, ask an administrator to enable the feature flag named forti_token_cloud. On GitLab.com, this feature is not available. The feature is not ready for production use.

You can use FortiToken Cloud as a one-time password (OTP) provider in GitLab. Users must:

  • Exist in both FortiToken Cloud and GitLab with the same username.
  • Have FortiToken configured in FortiToken Cloud.

You need a client_id and client_secret to configure FortiToken Cloud. To get these, see the REST API Guide at Fortinet Document Library.

Configure FortiToken Cloud in GitLab. On your GitLab server:

  1. Open the configuration file.

    For Omnibus GitLab:

    sudo editor /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb
    

    For installations from source:

    cd /home/git/gitlab
    sudo -u git -H editor config/gitlab.yml
    
  2. Add the provider configuration:

    For Omnibus package:

    gitlab_rails['forti_token_cloud_enabled'] = true
    gitlab_rails['forti_token_cloud_client_id'] = '<your_fortinet_cloud_client_id>'
    gitlab_rails['forti_token_cloud_client_secret'] = '<your_fortinet_cloud_client_secret>'
    

    For installations from source:

    forti_token_cloud:
      enabled: true
      client_id: YOUR_FORTI_TOKEN_CLOUD_CLIENT_ID
      client_secret: YOUR_FORTI_TOKEN_CLOUD_CLIENT_SECRET
    
  3. Save the configuration file.
  4. Reconfigure (Omnibus GitLab) or restart (GitLab installed from source).

Set up a U2F device

GitLab officially supports YubiKey U2F devices, but users have successfully used SoloKeys and Google Titan Security Key.

U2F is supported by the following desktop browsers:

  • Chrome
  • Edge
  • Opera
  • Firefox 67+. For Firefox 47-66:

    1. Enable the FIDO U2F API in about:config.
    2. Search for security.webauth.u2f and select it to toggle to true.

To set up 2FA with a U2F device:

  1. Access your User settings.
  2. Select Account.
  3. Select Enable Two-Factor Authentication.
  4. Connect your U2F device.
  5. Select Set up New U2F Device.
  6. A light begins blinking on your device. Activate it by pressing its button.

A message displays indicating that your device was successfully set up. Select Register U2F Device to complete the process. Recovery codes are not generated for U2F devices.

Set up a WebAuthn device

Version history
On self-managed GitLab, by default this feature is available. To disable the feature, ask an administrator to disable the feature flag named webauthn. If you disable the WebAuthn feature flag after WebAuthn devices have been registered, these devices are not usable until you re-enable this feature. On GitLab.com, this feature is available.

WebAuthn supported by:

  • The following desktop browsers:
    • Chrome
    • Edge
    • Firefox
    • Opera
    • Safari
  • The following mobile browsers:
    • Chrome for Android
    • Firefox for Android
    • iOS Safari (since iOS 13.3)

To set up 2FA with a WebAuthn-compatible device:

  1. Access your User settings.
  2. Select Account.
  3. Select Enable Two-Factor Authentication.
  4. Plug in your WebAuthn device.
  5. Select Set up New WebAuthn Device.
  6. Depending on your device, you might have to press a button or touch a sensor.

A message displays indicating that your device was successfully set up. Recovery codes are not generated for WebAuthn devices.

Recovery codes

Introduced in GitLab 13.7, Copy codes and Print codes buttons.

Immediately after successfully enabling 2FA with a one-time password, you’re prompted to download a set of generated recovery codes. If you ever lose access to your one-time password authenticator, you can use one of these recovery codes to sign in to your account.

caution
Each code can be used only once to sign in to your account.

We recommend copying and printing them, or downloading them using the Download codes button for storage in a safe place. If you choose to download them, the file is called gitlab-recovery-codes.txt.

note
Recovery codes are not generated for U2F or WebAuthn devices.

If you lose the recovery codes, or want to generate new ones, you can use either:

Regenerate two-factor authentication recovery codes

To regenerate 2FA recovery codes, you need access to a desktop browser:

  1. Access your User settings.
  2. Select Account > Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
  3. If you’ve already configured 2FA, select Manage two-factor authentication.
  4. In the Register Two-Factor Authenticator pane, enter your current password and select Regenerate recovery codes.
note
If you regenerate 2FA recovery codes, save them. You can’t use any previously created 2FA codes.

Sign in with two-factor authentication enabled

Signing in with 2FA enabled is only slightly different than the normal sign-in process. Enter your username and password and you’re presented with a second prompt, depending on which type of 2FA you’ve enabled.

Sign in using a one-time password

When asked, enter the pin from your one time password authenticator’s application or a recovery code to sign in.

Sign in using a U2F device

To sign in by using a U2F device:

  1. Select Login via U2F Device.
  2. A light begins blinking on your device. Activate it by touching/pressing its button.

A message displays indicating that your device responded to the authentication request, and you’re automatically signed in.

Sign in using a WebAuthn device

In supported browsers, you should be automatically prompted to activate your WebAuthn device (for example, by touching or pressing its button) after entering your credentials.

A message displays indicating that your device responded to the authentication request and you’re automatically signed in.

Disable two-factor authentication

To disable 2FA:

  1. Access your User settings.
  2. Select Account.
  3. Select Manage two-factor authentication.
  4. Under Register Two-Factor Authenticator, enter your current password and select Disable two-factor authentication.

This clears all your 2FA registrations, including mobile applications and U2F or WebAuthn devices.

Recovery options

If you don’t have access to your code generation device, you can recover access to your account:

Use a saved recovery code

To use a recovery code:

  1. Enter your username or email, and password, on the GitLab sign-in page.
  2. When prompted for a two-factor code, enter the recovery code.

After you use a recovery code, you cannot re-use it. You can still use the other recovery codes you saved.

Generate new recovery codes using SSH

Users often forget to save their recovery codes when enabling 2FA. If you added an SSH key to your GitLab account, you can generate a new set of recovery codes with SSH:

  1. In a terminal, run:

    ssh git@gitlab.com 2fa_recovery_codes
    

    On self-managed instances, replace gitlab.com in the command above with the GitLab server hostname (gitlab.example.com).

  2. You are prompted to confirm that you want to generate new codes. This process invalidates previously-saved codes. For example:

    Are you sure you want to generate new two-factor recovery codes?
    Any existing recovery codes you saved will be invalidated. (yes/no)
    
    yes
    
    Your two-factor authentication recovery codes are:
    
    119135e5a3ebce8e
    11f6v2a498810dcd
    3924c7ab2089c902
    e79a3398bfe4f224
    34bd7b74adbc8861
    f061691d5107df1a
    169bf32a18e63e7f
    b510e7422e81c947
    20dbed24c5e74663
    df9d3b9403b9c9f0
    
    During sign in, use one of the codes above when prompted for your
    two-factor code. Then, visit your Profile Settings and add a new device
    so you do not lose access to your account again.
    
  3. Go to the GitLab sign-in page and enter your username or email, and password. When prompted for a two-factor code, enter one of the recovery codes obtained from the command-line output.

After signing in, immediately set up 2FA with a new device.

Have two-factor authentication disabled on your account

If other methods are unavailable, submit a support ticket to request a GitLab global administrator disable 2FA for your account:

  • Only the owner of the account can make this request.
  • This service is only available for accounts that have a GitLab.com subscription. For more information, see our blog post.
  • Disabling this setting temporarily leaves your account in a less secure state. You should sign in and re-enable two-factor authentication as soon as possible.

Information for GitLab administrators

  • Take care that 2FA keeps working after restoring a GitLab backup.
  • To ensure 2FA authorizes correctly with a time-based one time passwords (TOTP) server, synchronize your GitLab server’s time using a service like NTP. Otherwise, authorization can always fail because of time differences.
  • The GitLab U2F and WebAuthn implementation does not work when the GitLab instance is accessed from multiple hostnames or FQDNs. Each U2F or WebAuthn registration is linked to the current hostname at the time of registration, and cannot be used for other hostnames or FQDNs.

    For example, if a user is trying to access a GitLab instance from first.host.xyz and second.host.xyz:

    • The user signs in by using first.host.xyz and registers their U2F key.
    • The user signs out and attempts to sign in by using first.host.xyz - U2F authentication succeeds.
    • The user signs out and attempts to sign in by using second.host.xyz - U2F authentication fails, because the U2F key has only been registered on first.host.xyz.
  • To enforce 2FA at the system or group levels see, Enforce two-factor authentication.

Troubleshooting

If you receive an invalid pin code error, this can indicate that there is a time sync issue between the authentication application and the GitLab instance itself. To avoid the time sync issue, enable time synchronization in the device that generates the codes. For example:

  • For Android (Google Authenticator):
    1. Go to the Main Menu in Google Authenticator.
    2. Select Settings.
    3. Select the Time correction for the codes.
    4. Select Sync now.
  • For iOS:
    1. Go to Settings.
    2. Select General.
    3. Select Date & Time.
    4. Enable Set Automatically. If it’s already enabled, disable it, wait a few seconds, and re-enable.