DefinIT

3DES Password Based Encryption with vRealize Orchestrator (vRO/vCO)

vRealize OrchestratorA requirement that often arises in large, complex orchestration projects is the need to encrypt and decrypt information. One such requirement recently specified triple DES password based encryption as the standard, which led me through a lot of Google searches to CryptoJS.

CryptoJS is a growing collection of standard and secure cryptographic algorithms implemented in JavaScript using best practices and patterns. They are fast, and they have a consistent and simple interface.

Importantly for me, the collection includes a 3DES library. Unfortunately, this is where I stalled for a long time – I could not manage to get the CryptoJS library to work, and it became clear that it was likely to be beyond my skill set. Falling back on Google with a vengeance, I found this VMware Communities post – CryptoJS Hashers and Cyphers, and in it a package created by Dan Linsley (@danlinsley) which contained an encrypt and decrypt action for 3DES, based on CryptoJS. The package also contains actions for generating random initialisation vectors and base64 encoding. In short, exactly what I needed!

Based on this excellent work, I created two workflows, Encrypt-3DESPassword and Decrypt-3DESPassword. (more…)

Generating a secure random password with vRealize Orchestrator (vRO/vCO)

vRealize OrchestratorIt’s a fairly common requirement when creating a new user to assign a randomly generated password, so during a recent engagement I wrote a little password generator to do that. I wanted to be able to chose whether special characters were used, and the length of the password – typically if the password doesn’t used special characters I would increase the length significantly!

Characters should be randomly picked from:

  • a-z
  • A-Z
  • 0-9
  • (optional) ASCII special characters

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Avoid SSO Admin lockout – a.k.a. your first task after installing vSphere SSO

Security-Guard_thumb.pngIn my post yesterday (vexpert.me/hS) I talked about how to recover from an expired default SSO administrator password – this prompted a discussion on twitter with Anthony Spiteri (@anthonyspiteri) and Grant Orchard (@grantorchard) about the defaults for expiration and how to mitigate the risk.

The first solution is to modify the password expiration policy for SSO. I’m not advocating this necessarily – I think that expiring passwords ensure that you change them regularly and increase the overall security of your SSO solution. However, I can envisage situations (similar to mine) when the SSO administrator account is not used for a long time and expired – that causes headaches.

To modify the SSO password policy log onto the vSphere Web Client as the SSO admin (admin@system-domain for 5.1 or administrator@vsphere.local 5.5) and select Administration, then Sign-On and Discovery > Configuration. Select the Policies tab – you should see the default config:

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Click edit and set the password policy as required. This only applies to SSO users (i.e. those in the System-Domain or vSphere.local domains). To set the password to never expire in 5.1, set the Maximum Lifetime to 0  – for vSphere 5.5 you need to set to 9999 (Thanks to Hywel for his comments). IF you chose to do that, I’d beef up the complexity of your password policy to include upper, lower, numeric and special characters and increase the length from 8 to 13.

Similarly, you can edit the lockout policy which by default will lock you out if it has 3 failed attempts within 24 days. It will lock you out for 15 minutes. Setting the lockout time to 0 forces a manual unlock by an SSO admin.

The second option seems preferable to me (and Anthony and Grant) – that is to add some AD users or groups to the SSO administrators group. To do this, again log in as an SSO admin and select Administration, then Access > SSO Users and Groups, then the Groups tab. Select “__Administrators__” and click on the add principals button below. Select your AD domain from in the Identity Source field and search for your required user or group. Add them and click OK. Now those users, or group members have the ability to log on and reset or unlock the SSO admin account. AD accounts are obviously subject to your AD password policy, but can be reset independently of SSO and therefore don’t require you to use some command-line kung-fu to unlock.

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Recover ESXi Root Password using AD Authentication

vmware logoLosing a root password isn’t something that happens often, but when it does it’s normally a really irritating time. I have to rotate the password of all hosts once a month for compliance, but sometimes a host drops out of the loop and the root password gets lost. Fortunately, as the vpxuser is still valid I can manage the host via vCenter – this lends itself to this little recovery process:

  • Join the host to the domain (I’ve got a handy post for that here)
  • Create the “ESX Admins” group in your AD and ensure that you are a member. The AD group will be given full administrator rights on the host automatically.
  • Wait for replication, and the host to pick up the group and membership – it took about 15 minutes for me.
  • You can now connect directly to the host using the vSphere Client – head on to the “Local Users & Groups” page and edit “root”:

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  • You should now be able to connect to the host using your new root password.