GitLab Documentation

External authorization control

External authorization control

Introduced in GitLab Premium 10.6.

In highly controlled environments, it may be necessary for access policy to be controlled by an external service that permits access based on project classification and user access. GitLab provides a way to check project authorization with your own defined service.

Overview

Once the external service is configured and enabled, when a project is accessed, a request is made to the external service with the user information and project classification label assigned to the project. When the service replies with a known response, the result is cached for 6 hours.

If the external authorization is enabled, GitLab will further block pages and functionality that render cross-project data. That includes:

  • most pages under Dashboard (Activity, Milestones, Snippets, Assigned merge requests, Assigned issues, Todos)
  • under a specific group (Activity, Contribution analytics, Issues, Issue boards, Labels, Milestones, Merge requests)
  • Global and Group search will be disabled

This is to prevent performing to many requests at once to the external authorization service.

Whenever access is granted or denied this is logged in a logfile called external-policy-access-control.log. Read more about logs GitLab keeps in the omnibus documentation.

Configuration

The external authorization service can be enabled by an admin on the GitLab's admin area under the settings page:

Enable external authorization service

The available required properties are:

  • Service URL: The URL to make authorization requests to. When leaving the URL blank, cross project features will remain available while still being able to specify classification labels for projects.
  • External authorization request timeout: The timeout after which an authorization request is aborted. When a request times out, access is denied to the user.
  • Client authentication certificate: The certificate to use to authenticate with the external authorization service.
  • Client authentication key: Private key for the certificate when authentication is required for the external authorization service, this is encrypted when stored.
  • Client authentication key password: Passphrase to use for the private key when authenticating with the external service this is encrypted when stored.
  • Default classification label: The classification label to use when requesting authorization if no specific label is defined on the project

When using TLS Authentication with a self signed certificate, the CA certificate needs to be trused by the openssl installation. When using GitLab installed using Omnibus, learn to install a custom CA in the omnibus documentation. Alternatively learn where to install custom certificates using openssl version -d.

How it works

When GitLab requests access, it will send a JSON POST request to the external service with this body:

{
  "user_identifier": "jane@acme.org",
  "project_classification_label": "project-label",
  "user_ldap_dn": "CN=Jane Doe,CN=admin,DC=acme"
}

The user_ldap_dn is optional and is only sent when the user is logged in through LDAP.

When the external authorization service responds with a status code 200, the user is granted access. When the external service responds with a status code 401, the user is denied access. In any case, the request is cached for 6 hours.

When denying access, a reason can be optionally specified in the JSON body:

{
  "reason": "You are not allowed access to this project."
}

Any other status code than 401 or 200 will also deny access to the user, but the response will not be cached.

If the service times out (after 500ms), a message "External Policy Server did not respond" will be displayed.

Classification labels

You can use your own classification label in the project's Settings > General > General project settings page in the "Classification label" box. When no classification label is specified on a project, the default label defined in the global settings will be used.

The label will be shown on all project pages in the upper right corner.

classification label on project page

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