Authentication Methods For Auditing Secure Content
Allowing ObservePoint to audit your QA/staging servers is a critical step in the release cycle for your website. It will enable you to verify that data collection technologies are deployed correctly, before data quality has been affected.
Most enterprise businesses have IT security protocols in place to protect QA/staging servers from unauthorized access. To audit these resources, your IT security group will need to allow ObservePoint access to these protected resources.
The following security methods are supported by ObservePoint:
- Basic authentication
- Proxy authentication
- Reverse Proxy
- Browser or form-based authentication
- Private DNS
Note: Secure website addresses provided to ObservePoint must match your SSL Certificates in use by ObservePoint.
When access is controlled by firewall, instruct your IT security group to allow access to ports 80 and 443 for the ObservePoint IP addresses. These addresses are available in this whitelisting document.
2. Basic Authentication
Instead of using firewall security, some businesses will use a server protocol called Basic authentication. This is the case when a browser pop-up requests a username and password before allowing access to any content.
Basic authentication transfers usernames and passwords between the browser and server in unencrypted plain text which can be intercepted. It is our recommendation that all QA/staging servers be secured using a firewall, since this is the most secure way to prevent unauthorized access to these resources.
The URL syntax for Basic authentication appends the username and password separated by a colon to the beginning of the URL like this:
To audit a site using Basic authentication:
- From a new audit, select advanced settings or from an existing audit, select edit
- At the top, navigate to User Session, select Create User Session, and make sure the Action Type is set to Navigate To
- In the Audit Login Settings screen, enter the login URL with your credentials appended to the URL:
- Save the configuration
Note: Best practice for Basic authentication is to use a secure protocol (https://) so that the credentials are not sent in the clear. However, regardless of the URL's protocol, the Basic Authentication URL is stored on ObservePoint's servers just like any other URL and is not encrypted. By specifying _https_ the ObservePoint browser will create a secure connection with your server and send the credentials in encrypted text.
3. Proxy Server
Some QA/staging servers are accessible via a custom web proxy. If this is the case, you will need to configure the audit or user journey to utilize your custom proxy and any additional authentication you may have.
Your web proxy must be internet accessible, and ObservePoint's IP addresses must be whitelisted.
To audit a site via a custom web proxy:
- Setup your audit as normal and then select Advanced Setup
- Under Location, select use a custom proxy
- Input the proxy in the format required (e.g. http://example.com:8080)
4. Reverse Proxy
One way ObservePoint can access Stage/QA environments is through Reverse Proxy. In simple terms, using Reverse Proxy, our servers make a request to a publicly accessible server owned by your organization and then your organization forwards the request to an internal server as shown in the diagram below.
To set up access for an internal, pre-production environment, ObservePoint will need the IP address of your reverse proxy server. Your IT team will need to know that the request will come from one of these ObservePoint IP addresses.
If your IT team configures the reverse proxy server for all of the ObservePoint IP addresses, then audits or journeys can use any of the available proxies, but only the Direct-Oregon, US IP address (188.8.131.52) is really necessary since the origin of the original request will get lost in the handoff.
5. Browser or Form-Based Authentication
Form-based authentication uses a login like your email or banking website.
Using form-based authentication with ObservePoint requires each field to have a unique HTML ID or other type of selector. The image below shows the username field has an ID of "edit-name".
Under the User Session tab add Actions to fill in the username and password fields and to click the Submit button.
6. Private DNS
ObservePoint can access your sites that are publicly accessible, yet not publicly known, when you provide ObservePoint with the private DNS entries for your websites. When ObservePoint adds your private DNS entries to its host files it will be able to resolve siteA.yourcompany.com to your IP address.
Note: This may need to be used in conjunction with whitelisting ObservePoint’s IP addresses.
This solution requires dedicated, site-to-site VPN tunnel configuration between the ObservePoint and client networks.
To maintain security, ObservePoint provides dedicated data collection servers, which will only connect to the client servers and ObservePoint systems.
The settings for VPNs are custom to each enterprise and need to be configured with the help of your Customer Success Rep. There is an associated cost to setting up a VPN that can be clarified with your Account Executive, reach out to your Customer Success Rep if you're unsure who that is or have further questions.
ObservePoint will work with your network administrators to verify that VPN is an option for your company and will need basic information to evaluate and scope the solution, including:
- Primary network contact name and email
- Type of firewall in use (Cisco, Juniper, etc.)
- Firewall public IP
- URLs and IP Addresses associated with the web-servers hosting those URLs.
- To ensure there are no routing conflicts, we want to apply a CIDR block that doesn't overlap with the customer network.
Please contact your Customer Success Rep to initiate a custom plan for this service.