How authentication, authorization, and auditing works

Authentication, authorization, and auditing provides security for a distributed internet environment by allowing any client with the proper credentials to connect securely to protected application servers from anywhere on the Internet. This feature incorporates the three security features of authentication, authorization, and auditing. Authentication enables the NetScaler to verify the client’s credentials, either locally or with a third-party authentication server, and allow only approved users to access protected servers. Authorization enables the ADC to verify which content on a protected server it allows each user to access. Auditing enables the ADC to keep a record of each user’s activity on a protected server.

To understand how authentication, authorization, and auditing works in a distributed environment, consider an organization with an intranet that its employees access in the office, at home, and when traveling. The content on the intranet is confidential and requires secure access. Any user who wants to access the intranet must have a valid user name and password. To meet these requirements, the ADC does the following:

  • Redirects the user to the login page if the user accesses the intranet without having logged in.
  • Collects the user’s credentials, delivers them to the authentication server, and caches them in a directory that is accessible through LDAP. For more information, see Determining Attributes in Your LDAP Directory.

  • Verifies that the user is authorized to access specific intranet content before delivering the user’s request to the application server.
  • Maintains a session timeout after which users must authenticate again to regain access to the intranet. (You can configure the timeout.)
  • Logs the user accesses, including invalid login attempts, in an audit log.

Configure authentication authorization and auditing policies

After you set up your users and groups, you next configure authentication policies, authorization policies, and audit policies to define which users are allowed to access your intranet, which resources each user or group is allowed to access, and what level of detail authentication, authorization, and auditing will preserve in the audit logs. An authentication policy defines the type of authentication to apply when a user attempts to log on. If external authentication is used, the policy also specifies the external authentication server. Authorization policies specify the network resources that users and groups can access after they log on. Auditing policies define the audit log type and location.

You must bind each policy to put it into effect. You bind authentication policies to authentication virtual servers, authorization policies to one or more user accounts or groups, and auditing policies both globally and to one or more user accounts or groups.

When you bind a policy, you assign a priority to it. The priority determines the order in which the policies you define are evaluated. You can set the priority to any positive integer. In the NetScaler operating system, policy priorities work in reverse order: the higher the number, the lower the priority. For example, if you have three policies with priorities of 10, 100, and 1000, the policy assigned a priority of 10 is performed first, then the policy assigned a priority of 100, and finally the policy assigned an order of 1000. The authentication, authorization, and auditing feature implements only the first of each type of policy that a request matches, not any additional policies of that type that a request might also match, so policy priority is important for getting the results you intend.

You can leave yourself plenty of room to add other policies in any order, and still set them to evaluate in the order you want, by setting priorities with intervals of 50 or 100 between each policy when you bind the policies. You can then add additional policies at any time without having to reassign the priority of an existing policy.

For additional information about binding policies on the NetScaler appliance, see the NetScaler product documentation.

Configure the No_Auth policy to bypass certain traffic

You can now configure No_Auth policy to bypass certain traffic from authentication when 401-based authentication is enabled on traffic management virtual server. For such traffic, you must bind a “No_Auth” policy.

To configure the No_Auth policy to bypass certain traffic by using the CLI

At the command prompt, type:

add authentication policy <name> -rule <expression> -action <string>


add authentication policy ldap -rule ldapAct1 -action No_Auth
How authentication, authorization, and auditing works