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Self-Service Password Reset

Self-service password reset feature is often requested by FreeIPA users as it is not part of the default user management module. Users with forgotten password are expected to contact helpdesk or FreeIPA administrator to reset the password manually, after proving user's identity to them (see New Passwords Expired for more information). While it may seem to be insufficient, it is a feature that FreeIPA team does not plan to include as a FreeIPA core feature.

Password self-service weaknesses

The FreeIPA project makes strong security standards and encryption available for regular users and environments, without a need to be a security expert to be able to configure and use it. This approach however requires all it's parts to maintain a certain level of security that users can trust to avoid undermining it's purpose. A system is as strong as it's weakest part and it was found that a self-service password reset service may indeed be the weak spot.

The most common approach to password self-service may be security questions (vulnerable to social engineering), reset by an e-mail (may be sent in plain text between mail servers) or others. Such approaches are vulnerable and can be abused. While they are fine for a low security system like a mailing list or a free mail service, we do not see it as secure enough for FreeIPA and we do not plan to include it in the core.

Possible solutions

FreeIPA administrators are expected and welcome to take advantage of FreeIPA internal API or LDAP interface to prepare and integrate their own solution for password reset, where they are aware of it's disadvantages and can tailor such system to meet their infrastructure and security level requirements. An Extending FreeIPA guide with examples on how to extend FreeIPA can be found in Documentation page.

We welcome external parties to take on this task and effort. We will help, advise, collaborate and advertise them. We can even host them in a special repository. We encourage those efforts to produce variety of the solutions for different use cases. We will be interested in making sure we do not break them by running contributed integration test. We encourage these plugins to provide the same user experience and look and feel as the rest of the system. We will not, however, maintain, support or distribute any of those solutions ourselves as a part of main FreeIPA project.

At some point in future we might develop a self-service portal solution but it will be treated as a separate project following the principals outlined above.

3rd party projects

  • pwm - Open Source Password Self Service for LDAP directories