Realms live within a realm chain. It is essentially a prioritized
list of configured realms (typically of various types). Realms are consulted in
ascending order (that is to say, the realm with the lowest
order value is
consulted first). You should make sure each configured realm has a distinct
order setting. In the event that two or more realms have the same
they are processed in
During the authentication process, Elastic Stack security features consult and try
to authenticate the request one realm at a time. Once one of the realms
successfully authenticates the request, the authentication is considered to be
successful. The authenticated user is associated with the request, which then
proceeds to the authorization phase. If a realm cannot authenticate the request,
the next realm in the chain is consulted. If all realms in the chain cannot
authenticate the request, the authentication is considered to be unsuccessful
and an authentication error is returned (as HTTP status code
Some systems (e.g. Active Directory) have a temporary lock-out period after several successive failed login attempts. If the same username exists in multiple realms, unintentional account lockouts are possible. For more information, see Users are frequently locked out of Active Directory.
The default realm chain contains the
file realms. To explicitly
configure a realm chain, you specify the chain in the
When you configure a realm chain, only the realms you specify are used for
authentication. To use the
file realms, you must include them in
The following snippet configures a realm chain that includes the
native realms, as well as two LDAP realms and an Active Directory realm.
xpack.security.authc: realms: file: type: file order: 0 native: type: native order: 1 ldap1: type: ldap order: 2 enabled: false url: 'url_to_ldap1' ... ldap2: type: ldap order: 3 url: 'url_to_ldap2' ... ad1: type: active_directory order: 4 url: 'url_to_ad'
As can be seen above, each realm has a unique name that identifies it. Each type of realm dictates its own set of required and optional settings. That said, there are settings that are common to all realms.
Some realms have the ability to perform authentication internally, but delegate the lookup and assignment of roles (that is, authorization) to another realm.
For example, you may wish to use a PKI realm to authenticate your users with TLS client certificates, then lookup that user in an LDAP realm and use their LDAP group assignments to determine their roles in Elasticsearch.
Any realm that supports retrieving users (without needing their credentials) can
be used as an authorization realm (that is, its name may appear as one of the
values in the list of
authorization_realms). See Submitting requests on behalf of other users for
further explanation on which realms support this.
For realms that support this feature, it can be enabled by configuring the
authorization_realms setting on the authenticating realm. Check the list of
supported settings for each realm
to see if they support the
If delegated authorization is enabled for a realm, it authenticates the user in
its standard manner (including relevant caching) then looks for that user in the
configured list of authorization realms. It tries each realm in the order they
are specified in the
authorization_realms setting. The user is retrieved by
principal - the user must have identical usernames in the authentication and
authorization realms. If the user cannot be found in any of the authorization
realms, authentication fails.
Delegated authorization requires a Platinum or Trial license.