Cisco ASA: LDAP Authentication & Authorization for VPN Clients

(Originally published 2010-08-19)

Configuring ASA 8.2 for Remote VPN Access, with LDAP Authentication and Authorization

The following components need to be configured:
– AAA Server
– LDAP Attribute Map
– Address Pools
– Group Policy
– Connection Profile/Tunnel Group

This guide assumes you are using ASDM 6.2 for configuration of the ASA.

This guide was written and tested against a Cisco ASA 5520, Firmware version 8.2(2), ASDM version 6.2(5)

LDAP Attribute Map Configuration

– Create a normal Domain User account for the ASA to use to bind to the Directory to query. This user needs no special access other than to be able to query the directory. It certainly does not need to be a domain administrator account!
– Create an AD Group to be used for access to the VPN. Name it something sensible.

– Get the DN’s for the user and group created, you’ll need them for the next steps. You can use dsquery or the Object tab in ADUC to get them.

– On the ASA, go to Configuration > Remote Access VPN > AAA/Local Users > LDAP Attribute Map
– Create a new map, call it something like ‘LDAP_memberOf
– For the Mapping of Attribute Name:
LDAP Attribute Name: ‘memberOf
Cisco Attribute Name: ‘Group-Policy
*NOTE: Below ASA 8.2, this is IETF-Radius-Class, it has been renamed for 8.2+
– For the Mapping of Attribute Value:
LDAP Attribute Value: full DN of the Remote Access Group from AD e.g. ‘CN=RemoteGroup,OU=Groups,DC=domain,DC=com
Cisco Attribute Value: The name of the ASA VPN Group Policy you are going to use (we haven’t created it yet) e.g. ‘RemoteAccess_Grp

AAA Server Configuration

– Go to Configuration > Remote Access VPN > AAA/Local Users > AAA Server Groups
– Add a new AAA Server Group:
Server Group: Descriptive Name i.e. ‘LDAP_DOMAIN
Protocol: LDAP
Reactivation Mode: Depletion
Dead Time: 10 minutes
Max Failed Attempts: 3
– OK
– Now, with the LDAP_DOMAIN Server Group selected in the top frame, click on Add for the ‘Servers in the Selected Group’ frame
Interface Name: INSIDE or whatever interface you have your Domain Controller behind
Server Name or IP Address: IP Address of a Domain Controller
Timeout: 10 seconds
Server Port: 389 (unless you enable the LDAP over SSL option)
Server Type: Microsoft
Base DN: ‘DC=domain,DC=com‘ or whatever your base DN is
Scope: ‘All levels beneath the Base DN
*Note: One level is quicker, but you need to set the base DN to where your AD Access Group is located
Naming Attribute(s): ‘sAMAccountName
Login DN: full DN of the normal AD User created above
Login Password: password of the AD User account
LDAP Attribute Map: ‘LDAP_memberOf‘ or whatever you called the LDAP Attribute Map previously created
SASL options unchecked
Group Base DN: leave this blank
– OK

Address Pools

– You can either use a DHCP server, or assign a static pool to the ASA to hand out to VPN clients.
– For DHCP: Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > Address Assignment > Assignment Policy:
– Uncheck ‘Use Authentication Server
– Check ‘Use DHCP
– Uncheck ‘Use Internal Address Pools
– For Static Pool (which I recommend): Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > Address Assignment > Assignment Policy:
– Uncheck ‘Use Authentication Server
– Uncheck ‘Use DHCP
– Check ‘Use Internal Address Pools
– Uncheck ‘Allow the reuse of an IP address XX minutes after it is released
Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > Address Assignment > Address Pools
– Add New Pool
Name: Descriptive Name e.g. ‘RemoteVPN_Pool’
Starting Address: IP
Ending Address: IP (note these are inclusive!)
Subnet Mask: Mask
– Ok

*Note: The rest of this guide assumes a Static Address pool was created.

Address Pool created

Group Policies (Note, the terminology sucks. This is a policy for a group on the ASA, not an AD GPO)

– Go to Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > Group Policies
– Create a new policy to deny access:
– Add Internal Group Policy
– General:
Name: NoAccess
Address Pools: uncheck ‘Inherit‘ and leave blank
Expand ‘More Options’:
Simultaneous Logins: uncheck ‘Inherit‘ and set to 0
– Ok

This policy will be used to deny unauthorized & unauthenticated users from connecting.

– Create a new policy to for authenticated users:
– Add Internal Group Policy
– General:
Name: ‘RemoteAccess_Grp
Address Pools: uncheck ‘Inherit‘ and select the Address Pool previously created
Simultaneous Logins: Uncheck ‘Inherit’ and set the value to the number of Remote users you have licenses for or the number of valid IP addresses in your VPN pool
– Servers:
DNS Servers: I generally explicitly set them. Delimit with comma or space
WINS Servers: If in use, I generally explicitly set them. Delimit with comma or space
Expand More Options:
Default Domain: uncheck ‘Inherit‘ and set explicitly
– Advanced:
Split Tunneling: If you want to enable split tunneling, set as below. The default is tunnel all.
DNS Names: ‘Inherit
Policy: uncheck ‘Inherit‘ and select ‘Tunnel Network List Below
Network List: uncheck ‘Inherit‘, click ‘Manage
Create a new ACL with permit ACEs that include the hosts/netblocks you WANT tunneled.
Other options: Leave rest at default of ‘Inherit
– Ok

Group Policies created

Connection Profiles / Tunnel Groups:

Go to: Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > IPsec Connection Profiles
Click on Add
Name: Descriptive name e.g. ‘RemoteAccess_TunnelGroup’
IKE Peer Authentication:
Pre-shared Key: enter IKE Pre-shared key here
Identity Certificate: None
User Authentication:
Server Group: ‘LDAP_DOMAIN
Fallback: ‘Use LOCAL if Server Group fails‘, check this if you want to fall back to local users if AD is unavailable
Client Address Assignment:
DHCP Servers: leave blank
Client Address Pools: Select Address Pool previously created
Default Group Policy:
Group Policy: NoAccess
*Important, the default policy should be to lock them out, successful authentication&authorization provides the access policy
Server Group: ‘LDAP_Domain
Users must exist in the authorization database to connect: Check this

Enabling access to VPN clients:

To enable IPsec access:
– Go to Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > IPsec Connection Profiles
– Under Access Interfaces, check ‘Allow Access‘ for your ‘OUTSIDE‘ interface

To enable AnyConnect SSL / Legacy SSL:
– Go to Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Network (Client) Access > AnyConnect Connection Profiles
– Under Access Interfaces, check ‘Allow Access‘ for your ‘OUTSIDE‘ interface
– Under Connection Profiles, edit the tunnel group you created and give it an alias (The end users will see this in AnyConnect)
Login Page Setting: check ‘Allow user to select connection profile….
– SSL VPN clients also require a SSL certificate to be installed on the interface:
Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Advanced > SSL Settings
Edit your ‘outside’ interface and either create a self-signed certificate (warning will show on the client, but will work) or provide an existing certificate

NAT Rules
Configuration > Firewall > NAT Rules
If ‘Enable traffic through the firewall without address translation‘ is checked, you don’t need to add anything here
Create a new NAT Exempt Rule:
Interface: INSIDE
Source: Network object containing tunneled networks (generally your internal netblock, but you can use this to restrict devices VPN users can get to)
Destination: Create a new network object containing your VPN Client addresses
NAT Exempt Direction:
NAT Exempt outbound traffic from interface ‘INSIDE’ to lower security interfaces(Default)
Write a handy reminder for yourself when you are staring at this rule 6 months from now during a security audit.
– Ok

NAT Rules done

That should be everything, you should have IPsec and SSL VPN capability to your ASA now. Install the appropriate client on the end device and test.


Both the Anyconnect SSL client and the IPsec VPN client are available for a variety of operating systems, and can be pre-installed and configured for the end-user.

On the IPsec VPN client, the Group name and Password are the Tunnel-Group name and the IKE pre-shared key. It will prompt for the user credentials afterwards.
PCF files can be created to securely distribute the IKE PSK to remote end-users (saved as a one way hash in the PCF file).

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