Security compliance and PCI-DSS

Security compliance and PCI-DSS

As of the Newton release, the Identity service contains additional security compliance features, specifically to satisfy Payment Card Industry - Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) v3.1 requirements. See Security Hardening PCI-DSS for more information on PCI-DSS.

Security compliance features are disabled by default and most of the features only apply to the SQL backend for the identity driver. Other identity backends, such as LDAP, should implement their own security controls.

Enable these features by changing the configuration settings under the [security_compliance] section in keystone.conf.

Setting an account lockout threshold

The account lockout feature limits the number of incorrect password attempts. If a user fails to authenticate after the maximum number of attempts, the service disables the user. Users can be re-enabled by explicitly setting the enable user attribute with the update user v3 API call.

You set the maximum number of failed authentication attempts by setting the lockout_failure_attempts:

lockout_failure_attempts = 6

You set the number of minutes a user would be locked out by setting the lockout_duration in seconds:

lockout_duration = 1800

If you do not set the lockout_duration, users will be locked out indefinitely until the user is explicitly enabled via the API.

You can ensure specific users are never locked out. This can be useful for service accounts or administrative users. You can do this by setting the user option for ignore_lockout_failure_attempts.

Disabling inactive users

PCI-DSS 8.1.4 requires that inactive user accounts be removed or disabled within 90 days. You can achieve this by setting the disable_user_account_days_inactive:

disable_user_account_days_inactive = 90

This above example means that users that have not authenticated (inactive) for the past 90 days are automatically disabled. Users can be re-enabled by explicitly setting the enable user attribute via the API.

Force users to change password upon first use

PCI-DSS 8.2.6 requires users to change their password for first time use and upon an administrative password reset. Within the identity user API, create user and update user are considered administrative password changes. Whereas, change password for user is a self-service password change. Once this feature is enabled, new users, and users that have had their password reset, will be required to change their password upon next authentication (first use), before being able to access any services.

Prior to enabling this feature, you may want to exempt some users that you do not wish to be required to change their password. You can mark a user as exempt by setting the user options attribute ignore_change_password_upon_first_use.


Failure to mark service users as exempt from this requirement will result in your service account passwords becoming expired after being reset.

When ready, you can configure it so that users are forced to change their password upon first use by setting change_password_upon_first_use:

change_password_upon_first_use = True

Configuring password expiration

Passwords can be configured to expire within a certain number of days by setting the password_expires_days:

password_expires_days = 90

Once set, any new password changes have an expiration date based on the date/time of the password change plus the number of days defined here. Existing passwords will not be impacted. If you want existing passwords to have an expiration date, you would need to run a SQL script against the password table in the database to update the expires_at column.

If there exists a user whose password you do not want to expire, keystone supports setting that via the user option ignore_password_expiry.

Configuring password strength requirements

You can set password strength requirements, such as requiring numbers in passwords or setting a minimum password length, by adding a regular expression to the password_regex setting:

password_regex = ^(?=.*\d)(?=.*[a-zA-Z]).{7,}$

The above example is a regular expression that requires a password to have:

  • One (1) letter

  • One (1) digit

  • Minimum length of seven (7) characters

If you do set the password_regex, you should provide text that describes your password strength requirements. You can do this by setting the password_regex_description:

password_regex_description = Passwords must contain at least 1 letter, 1
                             digit, and be a minimum length of 7

It is imperative that the password_regex_description matches the actual regex. If the password_regex and the password_regex_description do not match, it will cause user experience to suffer since this description will be returned to users to explain why their requested password was insufficient.


You must ensure the password_regex_description accurately and completely describes the password_regex. If the two options are out of sync, the help text could inaccurately describe the password requirements being applied to the password. This would lead to a poor user experience.

Requiring a unique password history

The password history requirements controls the number of passwords for a user that must be unique before an old password can be reused. You can enforce this by setting the unique_last_password_count:

unique_last_password_count= 5

The above example does not allow a user to create a new password that is the same as any of their last four previous passwords.

Similarly, you can set the number of days that a password must be used before the user can change it by setting the minimum_password_age:

minimum_password_age = 1

In the above example, once a user changes their password, they would not be able to change it again for one day. This prevents users from changing their passwords immediately in order to wipe out their password history and reuse an old password.


When you set password_expires_days, the value for the minimum_password_age should be less than the password_expires_days. Otherwise, users would not be able to change their passwords before they expire.

Prevent Self-Service Password Changes

If there exists a user who should not be able to change her own password via the keystone password change API, keystone supports setting that via the user option lock_password.

This is typically used in the case where passwords are managed externally to keystone.

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