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CAC Enabled Anonymous Sharepoint Sites

By: Noni Hernandez
Enterprise Architect

If you worked/have worked or plan on working within the DoD environment, security will be a subject that haunts your dreams. Not that security isn’t prevalent in the private sector, but given the nature of our work security is a top priority if not the number one priority. That being said, I have been working with the DoD’s PKI for the past few years so I am fully aware of the scope and implications of providing a secure computing environment. Recently I was tasked with bringing all of our publicly available servers to a secure standard. This involved deploying a load balanced ISA 2006 array and protecting all of our services available through the NIPRNET or commercial internet. One of my projects was securing our SharePoint farm by only allowing access through our ISA array. Normally this would be a task completed in one’s sleep, depending on the authentication model being utilized. However, being a DoD element brings on specific requirements that must be met to ensure the protection of our data. Enter the CAC, or Common Access Card, and the utilization of the DoD PKI to enforce a more secure environment.

Inherently, ISA 2006 has great support for the client certificate authentication model, but there are some constraints. The main one being ISA will only allow such a connection by querying your domain to authenticate an active member of your domain. This is perfectly fine, except for the notion of having a publicly available page with limited information, on an anonymous access model. This is where things begin to get tricky. As I stated earlier, one requirement handed down by the DoD is to secure all publicly available servers via CAC authentication. This means granting access to your public site to anyone with a valid CAC. If you are publishing your anonymous site and giving direct access to your farm, then deploying this scenario is rather simple, but you are leaving your server vulnerable to possible unauthorized access simply by giving direct access. So naturally we will need to publish this site through our ISA array to provide that layer of security. This is where I first ran into problems. If you are configuring an access rule in ISA then enabling client certificate authentication requires the user be an active member in your domain with their CAC registered to that account. If you choose to leave the certificate request on the web server and set the authentication request on the listener to ‘No Authentication’ and the authentication delegation to ‘No delegation, but client may authenticate directly’, you will most likely receive a 408/Request timed out error when attempting to access the page. I was stuck on this error message for weeks after attempting numerous combinations to make this work.

After many sleepless nights(and even worse, nightmares!) trying to create a solution to this problem, I finally came across the solution only after being requested to secure another server behind our array. So here is the method I developed to allow a user access to our anonymous SharePoint site, with the only stipulation being they have a valid CAC.

Step 1.

On your ISA array, instead of creating a SharePoing Site Publishing Rule or a Web Site Publishing Rule, select ‘Non-Web Server Protocol Publishing Rule’. Give it a meaningful name so your admins will be able to easily identify what the rule is performing, I chose ‘HQ Anonymous SharePoint Site[CAC Enabled]’. After you click next enter the IP either the individual server or the load balanced IP utilized to reach the site. After clicking next, you’ll need to click new to create a modified version of the HTTPS/SSL protocol, I named it ‘HTTPS[HQ Anon]’ to again reflect its utilization. After clicking next you’ll need to first create an Inbound TCP protocol using the Port Range 443 to 443. This is basically stripping down the methods used by ISA, i.e. compression, masking, to allow an SSL connection but still generating a proxy connection to our internal site to protect the data. After clicking OK, you’ll need to do the same thing and create and Outbound connection with the same parameters, this will allow the client certificate request to be passed back to the end user for a successful handshake. After clicking OK and then Finish you should see your new protocol in the ‘Selected Protocol’ dropdown list. Click Next and select the network that will be listening for these requests, most likely ‘External’ and then click the Address button. Since I am using a load balanced array I already have a VIP ready to be utilized for this published site, so I choose ‘Specified IP address..’ and then select the IP I will be using to publish this site and then click Add so this rule is only answering requests sent to this specific IP. After you select the IP and click OK, click Finish to complete the creation of the rule.

Step 2.

After you have created the rule, double click the new rule to view the properties. Click on the ‘To’ tab and change the ‘Request for the published server’ setting to ‘Requests appear to come from the ISA Server computer’. Once you have verified all the settings are correct from steps 1 and 2 then click ‘Apply’ and ‘OK’. This should conclude the ISA configuration portion!

Step 3.

On your SharePoint farm, you’ll need to open the IIS settings and then navigate to your anonymous site and view the properties. When you have the properties open, navigate to the Directory Security page and then click Edit on the Secure Communications section. Here you’ll need to select ‘Require secure channel’, ‘Require client certificates’, and then ‘Enable certificate trust list’. Click New to create a new Trust list, click Next and then click ‘Add from File’. You’ll need to select the DoD Root CA 2 and I have also set DoD CLASS 3 Root CA from where you have these certificates stored. Click next and then give it a name, i.e. DOD CTL, click next and then Finish. After clicking OK all the way through to the Directory Security page of the anonymous site properties, you are done!

So as you see, it’s really not a complicated process. But in the grand scheme of things, we all know that we tend to over think and over complicate things to engineer solutions. I am more than guilty of this, I lost weeks of sleep to prove it! This configuration guide is set on a pretense that you do have some preliminary items configured, and that you reached the dead end at the same point I did. If did not being to lose your hair because of this, and have just begun your descent into madness, then you need to know that there are some steps that should be completed before reaching this stage.

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Thank you Noni for agreeing to write this post! I think everyone will agree this is a valuable contribution to the DoD – SharePoint community!

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