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One Identity Safeguard for Privileged Sessions 6.4.0 - Starling Two-Factor Authentication- Tutorial


This document describes how you can use the services of One Identity Starling 2FA to authenticate the sessions of your privileged users with One Identity Safeguard for Privileged Sessions (SPS).

One Identity Safeguard for Privileged Sessions:

One Identity Safeguard for Privileged Sessions (SPS) controls privileged access to remote IT systems, records activities in searchable, movie-like audit trails, and prevents malicious actions. SPS is a quickly deployable enterprise device, completely independent from clients and servers — integrating seamlessly into existing networks. It captures the activity data necessary for user profiling and enables full user session drill down for forensic investigations.

SPS acts as a central authentication gateway, enforcing strong authentication before users access sensitive IT assets. SPS can integrate with remote user directories to resolve the group memberships of users who access nonpublic information. Credentials for accessing information systems can be retrieved transparently from SPS's local Credential Store or a third-party password management system. This method protects the confidentiality of passwords as users can never access them. When used together with Starling 2FA (or another Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) provider), SPS directs all connections to the authentication tool, and upon successful authentication, it permits the user to access the information system.

Integrating Starling 2FA with SPS:

SPS can interact with your Starling 2FA account and can automatically request strong Multi-Factor Authentication for your privileged users who are accessing the servers and services protected by SPS. When used together with Starling 2FA, SPS prompts the user for a second factor authentication, and upon successful authentication, it permits the user to access the information system.

The integration adds an additional security layer to the gateway authentication performed on SPS. If the Starling 2FA App is installed on the user's device (smartphone, notebook, smartwatch, and so on), the user can generate a One-Time Password (OTP) using the device. This will be used for the authentication to the One Identity platform. The one-time password is changed after 60 seconds.

Meet compliance requirements

ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SOC 2, and other regulations and industry standards include authentication-related requirements, (for example, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for accessing production systems, and the logging of all administrative sessions). In addition to other requirements, using SPS and Starling 2FA helps you comply with the following requirements:

  • PCI DSS 8.3: Secure all individual non-console administrative access and all remote access to the cardholder data environment (CDE) using MFA.

  • PART 500.12 Multi-Factor Authentication: Covered entities are required to apply MFA for:

    • Each individual accessing the covered entity’s internal systems.

    • Authorized access to database servers that allow access to nonpublic information.

    • Third parties accessing nonpublic information.

  • NIST 800-53 IA-2, Identification and Authentication, network access to privileged accounts: The information system implements MFA for network access to privileged accounts.

Technical requirements

In order to successfully connect SPS with RADIUS server, you need the following components.

In Starling 2FA:
  • A valid Starling 2FA subscription that permits multi-factor authentication.

  • Your users must be enrolled in Starling 2FA and their access must be activated, or you must use auto-provisioning to enroll your users. To create a new user account, log on to Starling, navigate to the Users tab and click Add.

  • The users must install the Starling 2FA Mobile app.

  • NOTE:

    Version 2.2.0 and later of the One Identity Starling Two-Factor Authentication plugin works only if you have joined your SPS deployment to Starling.

    If you want use version 2.2.0 and later of the One Identity Starling Two-Factor Authentication plugin, complete the "Joining to One Identity Starling" in the Administration Guide procedure before upgrading the plugin.

  • A One Identity Safeguard for Privileged Sessions appliance (virtual or physical), at least version SPS 6.3.0.

  • A copy of the SPS Starling 2FA Multi-Factor Authentication plugin. This plugin is an Authentication and Authorization (AA) plugin customized to work with the Starling 2FA multi-factor authentication service.

  • SPS must be able to access the Internet (at least the API services). Since Starling 2FA is a cloud-based service provider, SPS must be able to access its web services to authorize the user.

  • Depending on the method you use to authenticate your users, your users might need Internet access on their cellphones.

Availability and support of the plugin

The SPS Starling 2FA Multi-Factor Authentication plugin is available for download as-is, free of charge to every SPS customer from the Starling Two-Factor Authentication plugin for Safeguard for Privileged Sessions page. In case you need any customizations or additional features, contact our Support Team.


Using custom plugins in SPS is recommended only if you are familiar with both Python and SPS. Product support applies only to SPS: that is, until the entry point of the Python code and passing the specified arguments to the Python code. One Identity is not responsible for the quality, resource requirements, or any bugs in the Python code, nor any crashes, service outages, or any other damage caused by the improper use of this feature, unless explicitly stated in a contract with One Identity. If you want to create a custom plugin, contact our Support Team for details and instructions.

How SPS and Starling 2FA work together in detail

Figure 1: How SPS and Starling 2FA work together

  1. A user attempts to log in to a protected server.

  2. Gateway authentication on SPS

    SPS receives the connection request and authenticates the user. SPS can authenticate the user to a number of external user directories, (for example, LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory, or RADIUS). This authentication is the first factor.

  3. Check if the user is exempt from multi-factor authentication

    You can configure SPS using whitelists and blacklists to selectively require multi-factor authentication for your users, (for example, to create break-glass access for specific users).

    • If multi-factor authentication is not required, the user can start working, while SPS records the user's activities. The procedure ends here.

    • If multi-factor authentication is required, SPS continues the procedure with the next step.

    For details on creating exemption lists, see [WHITELIST].

  4. Determining the external Starling 2FA identity

    The gateway usernames are different from the external Starling 2FA identities, you must configure the SPS Starling 2FA plugin to map the gateway usernames to the external Starling 2FA identities.

    The external identity is the Starling ID, which is a number.

    The mapping can be as simple as appending a domain name to the gateway username, or you can query an LDAP or Microsoft Active Directory server.

    For details, see [USERMAPPING].

  5. Outband authentication on Starling 2FA

    If gateway authentication is successful, SPS connects the Starling 2FA server to check which authentication factors are available for the user. Then SPS requests the second authentication factor from the user.

    • For OTP-like authentication factors, SPS requests the OTP from the user, and sends it to the Starling 2FA server for verification.

    • For the Starling 2FA push notification factor, SPS asks the Starling 2FA server to check if the user successfully authenticated on the Starling 2FA server.

  6. If multi-factor authentication is successful, the user can start working, while SPS records the user's activities. (Optionally, SPS can retrieve credentials from a local or external Credential Store or password vault, and perform authentication on the server with credentials that are not known to the user.)

  7. If the user opens a new session within a short period, they can do so without having to perform multi-factor authentication again. After this configurable grace period expires, the user must perform multi-factor authentication to open the next session.

    For details, see [authentication_cache].

Notable features

This section contains the notable features of this plugin.

  • This plugin supports auto-provisioning of Starling 2FA IDs. This means that if the user's email address and phone number is stored in LDAP or Active Directory, the plugin can automatically enable Starling 2FA for that user. When using auto-provisioning, mapping the gateway usernames to the external Starling 2FA identity is not required.

    For details on configuring auto-provisioning, see [starling_auto_provision].

  • To map the gateway usernames to the external Starling 2FA identities if the gateway usernames are different from the Starling 2FA usernames, configure the [USERMAPPING] section of the plugin.

  • The [WHITELIST] section allows configuring authentication whitelists and blacklists for example to create break-glass access for specific users to allow them to bypass Starling 2FA authentication.

  • The [authentication_cache] section contains the settings that determine how soon after performing a Starling 2FA authentication must the user repeat the authentication when opening a new session.

  • The [connection_limit by=client_ip_gateway_user] section contains the options related to limiting parallel sessions.

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