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User Authentication Introduction#

The Gluu Server was designed to be very flexible in handling user authentication. Username / password is the default form of authentication ("basic"). Stronger forms of authentication, like One-Time Passcodes (OTP), U2F Security Keys, and Gluu's free U2F mobile app, Super Gluu, can be implemented to increase account security.

All Gluu Server authentications are routed through the oxAuth OpenID Provider (OP). You can take incoming SAML or CAS assertions from a 3rd party IDP, for example ADFS, and use that as the basis for an OpenID Connect session in Gluu. This enables seamless SSO across a diverse environment of federated applications.

Authentication Interception Scripts#

The Gluu Server leverages interception scripts to facilitate the user authentication process. Interception scripts specify how an authentication mechanism should be applied, and what pages should be presented during sign-in.

The Gluu Server includes interception scripts for a number of authentication mechanisms, such as:

Interception scripts included in Gluu's default distribution can be customized and extended, or new scripts can be written to support unique business requirements for authentication. For example, a script could be extendeded to implement extra authentication steps based on contextual information such as fraud scores, location, or browser profiling.

Follow the custom authentication script tutorial to better understand how interception scripts work.


All pre-written authentication scripts can be found in the oxAuth integration folder on GitHub.

Default Authentication Mechanism#

In oxTrust, navigate to Configuration > Manage Authentication > Default Authentication to specify the default authentication mechanism for two use cases:

  1. default_acr: this is the default authentication mechanism exposed to all applications that send users to your Gluu Server for sign-in. Unless an app specifically requests a different form of authentication using the OpenID Connect acr_values parameter (as specified below), users will receive the form of authentication specified in this field.

  2. oxTrust_acr: this form of authentication will be presented to anyone specifically trying to access the oxTrust admin GUI.

Depending on your requirements, you can set both fields to the same authentication mechanism, or choose a different mechanism for each use case.

In addition, specific apps can request specific forms of authentication using the OpenID Connect acr_value. More on that topic below.

Basic Authentication#

Gluu will default to Basic Authentication, which is username and password authentication against the local Gluu LDAP. If LDAP synchronization has been configured, an existing backend LDAP server can be used for authentication.

Learn how to configure basic authentication.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)#

Gluu includes interception scripts for the following forms of 2FA:

To a support an authentication mechanism not listed above, review the custom authentication script tutorial to learn how to write your own authentication scripts.

2FA enrollment#

Once 2FA is enabled, the Gluu Server's default behavior is to prompt for enrollment the first time a user signs in.

2FA Credential Management#

Once users enroll 2FA credentials for their account, the credentials can be viewed and removed by the Gluu Server administrator either directly in LDAP, or in the user record in oxTrust via the Manage People interface.


To offer self-service credential management, where end-users can manage their own 2FA authentication credentials, check out our new app, Gluu Casa.

Social Login#

If you want to support social login or inbound SAML, include Passport in your installation of Gluu Server.

Passport provides a crowd-sourced approach to supporting social login at many popular consumer IDPs, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, GitHub, etc. In addition to normalizing social login, it provides a standard mapping for user claims, allowing you to dynamically enroll new users into your Gluu Server that have authenticated elsewhere.

Learn how to configure social login or inbound SAML providers.

Multiple Authentication Mechanisms#

The Gluu Server can concurrently support multiple authentication mechanisms, enabling Web and mobile apps ("clients") to request a specific type of authentication using the standard OpenID Connect request parameter: acr_value.

In oxTrust, navigate to Configuration > Manage Custom Scripts > Person Authentication and check the Enabled box for each applicable authentication interception script. Click the Update button at the bottom of the page to save the changes.

By default, users will get the default authentication mechanism as specified above. However, using the OpenID Connect acr_values parameter, web and mobile clients can request any enabled authentication mechanism.

Each authentication mechanism has a "Level" rank assigned to it which describes how secure and strict it is. The higher the "Level", the more reliable mechanism represented by the script is. Though several mechanisms can be enabled at the same Gluu instance at the same time, for any specific user's session only one of them can be set as the current one (and will be returned as acr claim of id_token for them). If after initial session is created a new authorization request from a RP comes in specifying another authentication method, its "Level" will be compared to that of the method currently associated with this session. If requested method's "Level" is lower or equal to it, nothing is changed and the usual SSO behavior is observed. If it's higher (i.e. a more secure method is requested), it's not possible to serve such request using the existing session's context, and user must re-authenticate themselves to continue. If they succeed, a new session becomes associated with that requested mechanism instead.

Enabled scripts can be confirmed by checking oxTrust or the Gluu OP configuration URL, https://<hostname>/.well-known/openid-configuration, and finding the "acr_values_supported".

Learn more about acr_values in the OpenID Connect core spec and in the Gluu Server OpenID Connect docs.

Account Lockout Policy#

The default Gluu Server distribution includes an interception script to implement a basic account lockout policy, which will deactivate a user's account after a set number of consecutive failed login attempts.

Learn how to configure account lockout.

Customizing the Login Page#

Learn how to customize the look and feel of Gluu Server login pages in the Design Customizations section of the Operations Guide.

Revert Authentication#

New authentication flows and methods should always be tested in a different browser to reduce the chance of lockout. However, in case you find yourself locked out of the GUI, refer to the revert authentication mechanism docs.