Setting Up User Authentication

Authentication identifies an individual. To gain access to restricted resources, a user must prove their identity, via passwords, credentials, or some other means (typically referred to as authentication tokens).

You can use the native support for managing and authenticating users, or integrate with external user management systems such as LDAP and Active Directory. For information about managing native users, see Managing Native Users.

Built-in Users

X-Pack security provides built-in user credentials to help you get up and running. These users have a fixed set of privileges and cannot be authenticated until their passwords have been set. The elastic user can be used to set all of the built-in user passwords.

A built-in superuser. See Built-in Roles.
The user Kibana uses to connect and communicate with Elasticsearch.
The user Logstash uses when storing monitoring information in Elasticsearch.

How the Built-in Users Work

These built-in users are stored within a special .security index managed by X-Pack security. This means that, if the password is changed, or a user is disabled, then that change is automatically reflected on each node in the cluster. It also means that if your .security index is deleted, or restored from a snapshot, then any changes you have applied will be lost.

Although they share the same API, the built-in users are separate and distinct from users managed by the native realm. Disabling the native realm will not have any effect on the built-in users. The built-in users can be disabled individually, using the user management API.

The Elastic Bootstrap Password

When you install X-Pack, if the elastic user does not already have a password, it uses a default bootstrap password. The bootstrap password is a transient password that enables you to run the tools that set all the built-in user passwords.

By default, the bootstrap password is derived from a randomized keystore.seed setting, which is added to the keystore when you install X-Pack. You do not need to know or change this bootstrap password. If you have defined a bootstrap.password setting in the keystore, however, that value is used instead. For more information about interacting with the keystore, see Secure Settings.


After you set passwords for the built-in users, in particular for the elastic user, there is no further use for the bootstrap password.

Setting Built-in User Passwords

You must set the passwords for all built-in users.

The setup-passwords tool is the simplest method to set the built-in users' passwords for the first time. It uses the elastic user’s bootstrap password to run user management API requests. For example, you can run the command in an "interactive" mode, which prompts you to enter new passwords for the elastic, kibana, and logstash_system users:

bin/x-pack/setup-passwords interactive

For more information about the command options, see setup-passwords.


After you set a password for the elastic user, the bootstrap password is no longer valid; you cannot run the setup-passwords command a second time.

Alternatively, you can set the initial passwords for the built-in users by using the Management > Users page in Kibana or the Change Password API. These methods are more complex. You must supply the elastic user and its bootstrap password to log into Kibana or run the API. This requirement means that you cannot use the default bootstrap password that is derived from the keystore.seed setting. Instead, you must explicitly set a bootstrap.password setting in the keystore before you start Elasticsearch. For example, the following command prompts you to enter a new bootstrap password:

bin/elasticsearch-keystore add "bootstrap.password"

You can then start Elasticsearch and Kibana and use the elastic user and bootstrap password to log into Kibana and change the passwords. Alternatively, you can submit Change Password API requests for each built-in user. These methods are better suited for changing your passwords after the initial setup is complete, since at that point the bootstrap password is no longer required.

Adding Built-in User Passwords To Kibana and Logstash

After the kibana user password is set, you need to update the Kibana server with the new password by setting elasticsearch.password in the kibana.yml configuration file:

elasticsearch.password: kibanapassword

The logstash_system user is used internally within Logstash when monitoring is enabled for Logstash.

To enable this feature in Logstash, you need to update the Logstash configuration with the new password by setting xpack.monitoring.elasticsearch.password in the logstash.yml configuration file:

xpack.monitoring.elasticsearch.password: logstashpassword

If you have upgraded from an older version of elasticsearch/x-pack, the logstash_system user may have defaulted to disabled for security reasons. Once the password has been changed, you can enable the user via the following API call:

PUT _xpack/security/user/logstash_system/_enable

Disabling Default Password Functionality


This setting is deprecated. The elastic user no longer has a default password. The password must be set before the user can be used. See The Elastic Bootstrap Password.

Internal Users

X-Pack security has three internal users (_system, _xpack, and _xpack_security) that are responsible for the operations that take place inside an Elasticsearch cluster.

These users are only used by requests that originate from within the cluster. For this reason, they cannot be used to authenticate against the API and there is no password to manage or reset.

From time-to-time you may find a reference to one of these users inside your logs, including audit logs.