Using Custom Identity Providers to Authenticate to Chainguard

An introduction to and overview of Chainguard's custom IDP support features

The Chainguard platform supports Single Sign-on (SSO) authentication for users. By default, users can log in with GitHub, GitLab and Google, but SSO support allows users to bring their own identity provider for authentication. This is helpful when your organization mandates using a corporate identity provider — like Okta or Azure Active Directory — to authenticate to SaaS products.


Once an administrator has configured an identity provider and set up their organization, users can authenticate at the command line and in the web console using the identity provider’s organization.

Authenticate with chainctl

chainctl, the Chainguard command line interface (CLI), supports SSO authentication by supplying the identity provider organization name as a flag or by setting it as a default in configuration. To use a flag to authenticate using SSO, pass the --identity-provider flag to chainctl auth login.

export IDP_ID=<your identity provider id here>
chainctl auth login --identity-provider=$IDP_ID

You can retrieve all your identity provider’s unique IDs by running chainctl iam identity-providers list.

As an alternative to remembering identity provider IDs, you can set the default identity provider by editing the chainctl configuration file. You can do so with the following command.

chainctl config edit

This will open a text editor (nano, by default) where you can edit the local chainctl config. Add the following lines to this file.

  identity-provider: <your identity provider id here>

Then save and close the file. If you used the default editor, nano, you can do so by pressing CTRL + X, Y, and then ENTER.

You can also set this with a single command using the chainctl config set subcommand, as in this example.

chainctl config set default.identity-provider <your identity provider id here>

Once set, the configured identity provider will be used automatically any time you run chainctl auth login.

Note: chainctl auth login --headless is not currently compatible with SSO authentication.

Authenticate with chainctl using a Verified Organization

If your organization is verified, you can use your organization name instead of the ID of your identity provider to authenticate.

chainctl auth login --org-name

You can add your organization’s name to your chainctl config to make this a default setting.


To learn more about working with your chainctl config, you can read our doc on How to Manage chainctl Configuration.

Authenticate with the Chainguard Console

To authenticate with the Chainguard Consle using SSO, click the Use your identity provider link on the login page.

Screenshot showing an example Chainguard login page, with a yellow ellipse around the `Use your identity provider` link.

On the next page, you can choose to sign in with your organization email. When authenticating to a Verified Organization via the Chainguard Console, your organization name will be detected from your email address and you do not need to supply the identity provider ID.

If your organization name does not match your email domain, you can input it specifically to authenticate with your organization’s custom identity provider. Click on the link below the field to navigate between the options, or alternatively return to the screen with the social providers login option.

After adding your ID, click the Login with provider button. You’ll then be redirected to your identity provider to authenticate, after which you’ll be redirected back to the Console.

Setup and Administration

Chainguard SSO requires OpenID Connect (OIDC) compatible identity providers. In particular, identity providers must also support the following.

  • The authorization code grant type (sometimes called the authorization code flow).
  • The standard openid, email and profile scopes. Note that the Chainguard platform will partially function with only the openid scope, but full functionality requires the email and profile scopes as well.

Customer-managed identity providers must also have a public, unauthenticated OIDC discovery endpoint.

In order to set up SSO for your identity provider, you must configure an OIDC application that the Chainguard platform can use on your identity provider. Following that, you have to configure the Chainguard platform to use that application.

Integration Guides for supported identity providers

If your identity provider is Okta, Ping Identity or Azure Active Directory, we’ve published step-by-step integration guides for your platform.

If you aren’t using one of these identity providers, you can complete the following Generic Integration Guide to configure your provider to work with Chainguard. However, be aware that Chainguard does not actively support identity providers other than the ones listed previously. If you are using an alternate identity provider, we encourage you to contact us to learn more.

Generic Integration Guide

For a generic OIDC-compatible identity provider, start by creating an OIDC application. If possible, set as much metadata as possible for the application so that your users can identify this application as the Chainguard platform. The following assets and details can be helpful to include in metadata.

Next, configure your OIDC application as follows:

  • Set redirect URI to
  • Restrict grant types to authorization code only. It is critical that your application does not support “client credentials”, “device code”, “implicit” or other grant types (sometimes called “flows”).
  • Restrict response types to only authorization codes (sometimes called just “code”)
  • Enable “openid”, “email” and “profile” scopes for application
  • Disable or set PKCE to optional

Finally, configure a set of client credentials and make note of the following details to configure Chainguard:

  • The issuer URL

Note: It is critical that you add /.well-known/openid-configuration to this URL to find the OIDC discovery page and that this URL matches the iss claim in identity tokens issued by this identity provider exactly.

  • Client ID
  • Client Secret

Next, use chainctl to log in to Chainguard with an OIDC provider (such as Google, GitHub, or GitLab) to bootstrap your account.

chainctl auth login

This bootstrap account can be used as a backup account (that is, a backup account you can use to log in if you ever lose access to your primary account). However, if you prefer to remove this role-binding after configuring the custom IDP, you may also do so.

Create a new identity provider using the details you noted from your OIDC application. Be sure to update the details in the following example export commands to align with your own application/client ID, client secret, and issuer URL.

export NAME=my-sso-identity-provider
export CLIENT_ID=<your application/client id here>
export CLIENT_SECRET=<your client secret here>
export ISSUER=<your issuer url here>
export ORG=<your organization UIDP here>
chainctl iam identity-provider create \
  --configuration-type=OIDC \
  --oidc-client-id=${CLIENT_ID} \
  --oidc-client-secret=${CLIENT_SECRET} \
  --oidc-issuer=${ISSUER} \
  --oidc-additional-scopes=email \
  --oidc-additional-scopes=profile \
  --parent=${ORG} \
  --default-role=viewer \

The oidc-issuer, oidc-client-id, and oidc-issuer-secret values are required when setting up an OIDC configuration with chainctl. You must also include a unique name for each custom IDP account.

Be aware that if you don’t include the --parent or --default-role options in the command, you will be prompted to select these values interactively.

The --default-role option. This defines the default role granted to users registering with this identity provider. This example specifies the viewer role, but depending on your needs you might choose editor or owner. For more information, refer to the IAM and Security section.

The --parent option specifies which Chainguard IAM organization your identity provider will be installed under. You can retrieve a list of all your Chainguard organizations — along with their UIDPs — with the following command.

chainctl iam organizations ls -o table
                        	ID                      	|    NAME    | DESCRIPTION
  59156e77fb23e1e5ebcb1bd9c5edae471dd85c43          	| sample_org |
  . . .                                             	| . . .      |

Your organization selection won’t affect how your users authenticate but will have implications on who has permission to modify the SSO configuration.

Managing Existing Identity Providers

Identity providers can be managed via chainctl using the chainctl iam identity-provider subcommand.

To create new providers, you can use the create subcommand.

chainct iam identity-provider create

To list out every configured identity provider, run the list subcommand.

chainctl iam identity-provider list

This will return a list of details for each of your identity providers, including their names and unique IDs.

To modify an existing identity provider, use the update subcommand.

chainctl iam identity-provider update

This can be useful for rotating client credentials.

Lastly, to delete an identity provider, run the delete subcommand.

chainctl iam identity-provider delete

For more details, check out the chainctl documentation for these commands.

IAM and Security

Once an identity provider has been created on the Chainguard platform, any user that can authenticate with that identity provider will be able to use it to access the Chainguard platform. It’s important to note that users can do so even if they have no IAM capabilities with the IAM organization at which the identity provider is defined. Identity providers give access to the Chainguard platform, but not the specific IAM organization where the identity provider is defined.

The IAM capabilities identity_providers.create, identity_providers.update, identity_providers.list and identity_providers.delete control which users can read and manipulate identity providers. The built-in roles viewer, editor and owner have the following identity provider related capabilities.

owneridentity_providers.create, identity_providers.list, identity_providers.update, identity_providers.delete

Backup accounts

In the case of an outage or misconfiguration of your identity provider, it can be helpful to have an authentication mechanism to the Chainguard outside of your SSO identity provider to recover. For this purpose, you can use one of our OIDC login providers (currently Google, GitHub, or GitLab) to create a backup account

As an OIDC login account needs to be set up to bootstrap the SSO identity provider initially, it’s possible to keep this account as a breakglass account in case you need it for recovery. However, the nature of these OIDC provider accounts is such that it is difficult to share them as a breakglass resource as they’re often tied to a single user.

Instead of relying on an account with an OIDC login provider, you can alternatively set up an assumable identity to use as a backup account. Refer to our conceptual guide on assumable identities to learn more.

Last updated: 2024-04-03 15:22