In a previous article titled "How to Use DirectControl to Facilitate Kerberos-based Oracle SSO on Unix and Linux", we discussed how the Centrify DirectControl agent can be leveraged to allow Active Directory users to authenticate to an Oracle database seemlessly and securely without having to enter their username and password. Unfortunately, allowing AD-based Single Sign-On for end users is only half of the battle for Oracle-related accounts.
By default, there are over 28 predefined accounts (administrative & non-administrative) and several, additional schema accounts created during an Oracle database installation. Only a few of these accounts are addressed during the Oracle installer and let you update the password; most of the others are automatically expired and locked. This leaves the Oracle DBA to manage those accounts and come up with a strategy for properly securing the passwords.
The Centrify Privilege Service (CPS) is an Enterprise access management and password service that can group databases and secure internal database accounts for both Oracle and SQL Server databases. In this article, we'll see how we can add an Oracle database to CPS, add accounts (managed & non-managed), and then create sets of databases in order to implement additional access control over these accounts.
- Oracle 11g or 12c Database software installed and functioning properly on a Centrify-supported Linux server (The Centrify Server Suite agent, DirectControl, doesn't need to be installed)
- The latest instance of Centrify Privilege Service, deployed either as a cloud-integrated component to the Centrify Identity Service (CIS) or as a standalone service deployed on-premises. This article uses the CIS cloud-integrated deployment option.
- The accounts you manage must be configured to include the CREATE SESSION privilege
- Management of the password for the SYS account is not supported by the Centrify Privilege Service because it requires a physical password file.
- You must install the ODP.NET client library on the same machine where the Centrify Connector is installed. You can download the Oracle ODP.NET managed driver (ODP.NET_Managed_ODAC12cR4.zip) from the Oracle downloads website or here. If you download and install the library after you install the Centrify Connector, you should restart the Connector before adding the database to CPS. If a newer version of the client library is available, keep in mind that only the baseline version (188.8.131.52.4) and the latest version available are supported.
- Centrify Privilege Service can manage the account password for standalone Oracle server. However, the Centrify Privilege Service does not synchronize managed passwords across computers in a cluster at this time.
Step 1 - Decide which Oracle Accounts to Add to CPS
Typically, the SYSTEM administrative account is the first account that DBA's like to protect the password for; this is because it is used the most often. However, there are many additional accounts, both administrative and non-administrative, that may be in scope for your requirements.
A simple question that you can ask is, "what type of functionality will I need to enable as part of my Oracle database installation?". You can then select the associated administrative accounts and use those and the intiial accounts to add into CPS for management.
You will then need to decide which of those accounts that you would like CPS to manage. Having a "managed" account means that CPS will securely vault the password, set it to a random, secure string, and then rotate it whenever the password is checked back in or whenever it is forced to rotate.
Step 2 - Add an Oracle Database(s) to CPS
- Authenticate to your CPS tenant as a user with the sysadmin administrative right
- Select the Databases tab; then click Add Database to open the Add Database Wizard
- Type a unique name to identify the database, select the type of database service you are adding, and specify the fully-qualified DNS host name or IP address, and click Next.
NOTE: If the database type is Oracle, you must also specify a database service name and the accounts you add must be Oracle database accounts. Optionally, you can also type a longer description for the database. For example, you might want to make note of the applications the database supports or the physical location of the server, then click Next to continue.
- Add a user name and password for an account used to access the database and specify whether the password for the account is managed by the privilege service, then click Next.
- Select Verify Database Settings to test access to the database using the account information provided, then click Finish. If the database and account settings are successfully verified, click Close.
NOTE: If there’s an error, test network connectivity and verify that the user name and password you provided are valid for the database you are attempting to add. If verification fails, close the error message, deselect the Verify Database Settings option, then click Finish to add the database and close the Add Database Wizard. You can only deselect the Verify Database Settings option if the password for the account is unmanaged. If the password for an account is managed, the database account must be verified to ensure the correct password is stored by the privilege service.
Step 3 - Add the Database(s) to a CPS Set (optional)
If you would like to group databases together by environment or application, for example, then you might choose to create a CPS Set for the database(s). This would then allow you to apply specific policies to the CPS Set. For example, you might want to have your internal DBA's to have access to the Oracle accounts on Production databases while external consultants might only have access to the same accounts on non-Production databases. You could then decide to implement strong authentication controls for the external DBA consultants.
To create a new static Set, simply select the Sets tab next to Databases, name the Set, and then add the Database members to the Set. Once the Set is created and membership defined, you then select the Users or Groups of Users that you want to add Set and Member Permissions for.
Step 4 - Set the Permissions (& Additional Options) for Database Resources & Accounts
Once your database(s) and associated accounts are added to CPS, you will need to set permissions on both. You can also choose to enable Access Request/Workflow and set Password Checkout policies for the particular user accounts.
In the screenshot below, user dwirth has full access to the SYSTEM account for this database resource:
Step 5 - Test the Password Checkout for an Oracle Account
Once you have verified that CPS can properly communicate to the Oracle database(s), the final step is to simply confirm that you can checkout the password for one of the Oracle accounts that you have added.
From the Resources tab, rt-click on the database resource, select Account Actions, and then choose to Checkout the password. If you have enabled Workflow for this database resource, then the "Request Checkout" option should be listed for users who initiate a password checkout session:
NOTE: You can also initiate an account password checkout from the Accounts tab. Just choose Database Accounts as the seach criteria, rt-click on the account, and choose Checkout. If you have been given the proper account permission, you can also rotate the password.
NOTE: If you don't want CPS to manage a particular account when adding accounts to a database resource, then simply leave that box unchecked in the Add Database Wizard. While the password will stay statically defined to whatever you set it to, you can still use the Workflow and Policy controls to further secure the access to that account password.
As you've seen from this article, there are many pre-defined Oracle accounts that also need to be properly addressed in order to secure identities across your Oracle installations. Leaving these types of shared access account passwords unprotected will increase the chances that someone will eventually hijack the account password and use it for malicious intent.
Using your existing CPS tenant, whether it be deployed on-premises or integrated into CIS, you can quickly and efficiently secure the passwords for these accounts.
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