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Today, we're excited to announce that Cloudflare Access and Gateway now support the System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) protocol. Before we dive into what this means, let's take a step back and review what SCIM, Access, and Gateway are.
SCIM is a protocol that enables organizations to manage user identities and access to resources across multiple systems and domains. It is often used to automate the process of creating, updating, and deleting user accounts and permissions, and to keep these accounts and permissions in sync across different systems.
For example, most organizations have an identity provider, such as Okta or Azure Active Directory, that stores information about its employees, such as names, addresses, and job titles. The organization also likely uses cloud-based applications for collaboration. In order to access the cloud-based application, employees need to create an account and log in with a username and password. Instead of manually creating and managing these accounts, the organization can use SCIM to automate the process. Both the on-premise system and the cloud-based application are configured to support SCIM.
When a new employee is added to, or removed from, the identity provider, SCIM automatically creates an account for that employee in the cloud-based application, using the information from the on-premises system. If an employee's information is updated in the identity provider, such as a change in job title, SCIM automatically updates the corresponding information in the cloud-based application. If an employee leaves the organization, their account can be deleted from both systems using SCIM.
SCIM helps organizations efficiently manage user identities and access across multiple systems, reducing the need for manual intervention and ensuring that user information is accurate and up to date.
Cloudflare Access provides secure access to your internal applications and resources. It integrates with your existing identity provider to enforce strong authentication for users and ensure that only authorized users have access to your organization's resources. After a user successfully authenticates via the identity provider, Access initiates a session for that user. Once the session has expired, Access will redirect the user back to the identity provider.
Similarly, Cloudflare Gateway is a comprehensive secure web gateway (SWG) which leverages the same identity provider configurations as Access to allow administrators to build DNS, Network, and HTTP inspection policies based on identity. Once a user logs in using WARP client via the identity provider, their identity is logged and evaluated against any policies created by their organization's administrator.
Challenges before SCIM
Before SCIM, if a user needed to be deprovisioned (e.g. leaving the business, a security breach or other factors) an administrator needed to remove access for the user in both the identity provider and Access. This was because a user’s Cloudflare Zero Trust session would stay active until they attempted to log in via the identity provider again. This was time-consuming and error-prone, and it leaves room for security vulnerabilities if a user's access is not removed in a timely manner.
Another challenge with Cloudflare Access and Gateway was that identity provider groups had to be manually entered. This meant that if an identity provider group changed, an administrator had to manually update the value within the Cloudflare Zero trust dashboard to reflect those changes. This was tedious and time-consuming, and led to inconsistencies if the updates were not made promptly. Additionally, it required additional resources and expertise to manage this process effectively.
SCIM for Access & Gateway
Now, with the integration of SCIM, Access and Gateway can automatically deprovision users after they are deactivated in an identity provider and synchronize identity provider groups. This ensures that only active users, in the right group, have access to your organization's resources, improving the security of your network.
User deprovisioning via SCIM listens for any user deactivation events in the identity provider and then revokes all active sessions for that user. This immediately cuts off their access to any application protected by Access and their session via WARP for Gateway.
Additionally, the integration of SCIM allows for the synchronization of identity provider group information in Access and Gateway policies. This means that all identity provider groups will automatically be available in both the Access and Gateway policy builders. There is also an option to automatically force a user to reauthenticate if their group membership changes.
For example, if you wanted to create an Access policy that only applied to users with emails associated with example.com and apart from the risky user group, you would be able to build a policy as show below by simply selecting the risky user group from a drop-down:
Similarly, if you wanted to create a Gateway policy to block example.com and all of its subdomains for these same users you could create the policy below:
Today, SCIM support is available for Azure Active Directory and Okta for Self-Hosted Access applications. In the future, we plan to extend support for more Identity Providers and to Access for SaaS.
Try it now
SCIM is available for all Zero Trust customers today and can be used to improve operations and overall security. Try out SCIM for Access and Gateway yourself today.