Access Control Guide


You will need:

  • An account on the smallstep platform. Need one → Register here
  • SSO and User Sync configured and functioning
  • Hosts Registered with Tags


The following features are supported:

  • Access control by Host Tags configuration using Groups synchronized from your IDP

Step By Step Instructions

Step 0: Understanding Host Tags

Host Tags (key-value pairs) are the pillar our access control model. Rather than mapping people or groups directly to hosts, you'll map tag combinations to your hosts and to your user groups. First you'll put your hosts into logical groups using tags, eg. role:web or env:staging. Then, you'll grant user groups access to all hosts with a specific tag combination. Finally, you'll choose which user group tag combinations will allow sudo privileges on any matching hosts.

Let's look at an example:

  • The developers group will have access to myserver #1 only.
  • The data group will have access to myserver #2 and myserver #3.
  • The ops group will have sudo access to myserver #2 and myserver #3.

Of course, hosts and groups can have as many tag combinations as you like. Take a minute to think about how you'd like to use Host Tags in your environment.

Step 1: Determine Host Tag Combination

Sign in at[Team ID]

  • Choose "Hosts"
  • Find and select a Host that includes the Host Tags you wish to use for access grants.
    • In the example below that combination is database : production.
  • Make a note of the tag combination, you will need this in Step 2

Step 2: Grant User Group Access to Host(s)

You should see two Directories. The "Smallstep" directory contains Administrators who can manage the application. The other directory contains users and groups synchronized from your identity provider.

  • Select your identity provider directory
  • Choose the "GROUPS" tab.

  • Select the User Group that you want to configure for access control. You will see the user group detail page with a list of existing Host Grants and a form to add additional grants.
    • Enter the tag values from Step 1
    • If Sudo access is permitted for this user group, select the "Allow Sudo" checkbox
    • Click the checkbox to enable access control

  • All users in the group now have access to all hosts with the specified tag combination.