Authenticating SSL VPN users with security certificates

Authenticating SSL VPN users with security certificates

While the default self-signed certificates can be used for HTTPS connections, it is preferable to use the X.509 server certificate to avoid the redirection as it can be misinterpreted as possible session hijacking. However, the server certificate method is more complex than self-signed security certificates. Also the warning message is typically displayed for the initial connection, and future connections will not generate these messages.

X.509 certificates can be used to authenticate IPsec VPN peers or clients, or SSL VPN clients. When configured to authenticate a VPN peer or client, the FortiGate unit prompts the VPN peer or client to authenticate itself using the X.509 certificate. The certificate supplied by the VPN peer or client must be verifiable using the root CA certificate installed on the FortiGate unit in order for a VPN tunnel to be established.

To enable certificate authentication for an SSL VPN user group:

  1. Install a signed server certificate on the FortiGate unit and install the corresponding root certificate (and CRL) from the issuing CA on the remote peer or client.
  2. Obtain a signed group certificate from a CA and load the signed group certificate into the web browser used by each user. Follow the browser documentation to load the certificates.
  3. Install the root certificate and the CRL from the issuing CA on the FortiGate unit (see Installing a CA root certificate and CRL to authenticate remote clients on page 118).
  4. Create a PKI user for each SSL VPN user. For each user, specify the text string that appears in the Subject field of the user’s certificate and then select the corresponding CA certificate.
  5. Use the config user peergrp CLI command to create a peer user group. Add to this group all of the SSL VPN users who are authenticated by certificate.
  6. Go to Policy & Objects > IPv4 Policy.
  7. Edit the SSL-VPN security policy.
  8. Select the user group created earlier in the Source User(s)
  9. Select OK.

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