Native User Authentication

The easiest way to manage and authenticate users is with the internal native realm. You can use the REST APIs or Kibana to add and remove users, assign user roles, and manage user passwords.

Configuring a Native Realm

The native realm is added to the realm chain by default. You don’t need to explicitly configure a native realm to manage users through the REST APIs.


When you configure realms in elasticsearch.yml, only the realms you specify are used for authentication. To use the native realm as a fallback, you must include it in the realm chain.

You can, however, configure options for the native realm in the namespace in elasticsearch.yml. Explicitly configuring a native realm enables you to set the order in which it appears in the realm chain, temporary disable the realm, and control its cache options.

To configure a native realm:

  1. Add a realm configuration of type native to elasticsearch.yml under the namespace. At a minimum, you must set the realm type to native. If you are configuring multiple realms, you should also explicitly set the order attribute. See Native Realm Settings for all of the options you can set for the native realm.

    For example, the following snippet shows a native realm configuration that sets the order to zero so the realm is checked first:

              type: native
              order: 0
  2. Restart Elasticsearch.

Table 1. Native Realm Settings






Indicates the realm type. Must be set to native.



Indicates the priority of this realm within the realm chain. Realms with a lower order are consulted first. Although not required, we recommend explicitly setting this value when you configure multiple realms. Defaults to Integer.MAX_VALUE.



Indicates whether this realm is enabled or disabled. When set to false, the realm is not added to the realm chain and therefore is inactive. Defaults to true.



Specifies the time-to-live for cached user entries. A user’s credentials are cached for this period of time. Specify the time period using the standard Elasticsearch time units. Defaults to 20m.



Specifies the maximum number of user entries that can be cached at any given time. Defaults to 100,000.



Specifies the hashing algorithm that is used for the cached user credentials. See Cache hash algorithms for the possible values. (Expert Setting)

Managing Native Users

X-Pack security enables you to easily manage users in Kibana on the Management / Security / Users page.

Alternatively, you can manage users through the user API. For more information and examples, see User Management APIs.


To migrate file-based users to the native realm, use the migrate tool.