PowerBroker Identity Services (PBIS) 8.6 features a new capability for secure remote smart card authentication.

Secure Remote Smart Card Authentication

When using smart cards to authenticate, one of the requirements is to have a smart card reader connected to the machine where you are working. This is fine for laptops and workstations located at a user’s desk, but users of Unix and Linux systems typically rely on a remote client (SSH client) to connect to the machine from which they will work. The common practice is to secure the initial workstation login with a smart card authentication, and then perform a username/password authentication to the target *nix system. This practice poses a number of challenges. First, the account on the target *nix host is not fully secured, as anyone with direct access to the host could attempt to compromise that account using only a password. This also causes complications for the user as, rather than having to remember a single pin for access, the user must now remember and manage a separate password for the remote account. Finally, this practice may result in issues with passing audits due to lack of compliance around accounts on critical infrastructure systems.

PowerBroker Identity Services (PBIS) introduces a new feature in version 8.6, allowing for a remote system running the PowerBroker Identity Services agent along with a new client smart card hook to establish a secure tunnel between the user’s workstation and the target server. The user's smart card reader can then be connected to the target host via this secure tunnel so that the remote system acts as though the smart card reader has been physically connected directly to the machine itself.

Example Use Case

The key benefit is a user may perform smart card authentication with the same user on the same card, a different user on the same card, or a user from a different card to securely authenticate to a remote system, without having to be physically next to the server to insert the smart card.