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Security best practices

When securing Portal for ArcGIS, it's important that the environment in which your portal runs be secure as well. There are several security best practices that you can follow to ensure the greatest security.

Restrict the portal's proxy capability

The portal is used as a proxy server in several scenarios. As a result, the portal's proxy capability can be misused to launch Denial of Service (DoS) or Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) attacks against any computer the portal machine can access. To mitigate this potential vulnerability, it's strongly recommended you restrict the portal's proxy capability to approved web addresses. For additional details and full instructions, see Restricting the portal's proxy capability.

Disable anonymous access

To prevent any user from accessing content without first providing credentials to the portal, it is recommended that you configure your portal to disable anonymous access. Disabling anonymous access helps ensure that a public user would not be able to gain access to the resources on your portal.

To learn how to disable anonymous access in Portal for ArcGIS, see Disabling anonymous access. If you're using web-tier authentication (that is, you're performing authentication through ArcGIS Web Adaptor), you will also need to disable anonymous access on your web server. For instructions, consult your web server's product documentation.

Configure CA-signed server certificates

Portal for ArcGIS comes preconfigured with a self-signed server certificate, which allows the portal to be initially tested and to help you quickly verify that your installation was successful. However, in almost all cases, an organization should request a certificate from a trusted certificate authority (CA) and configure the portal to use it. The certificate can be signed by a corporate (internal) or commercial CA.

You should configure each applicable ArcGIS component in your organization with a certificate from a corporate or commercial CA. Common examples include ArcGIS Web Adaptor and ArcGIS Server. For example, ArcGIS Server also comes with a preconfigured self-signed certificate. If you'll be federating an ArcGIS Server site with your portal, it's very important that you request a CA-signed certificate and configure the server and Web Adaptor to use it.

Configuring a certificate from a trusted authority is secure practice for web-based systems and will also prevent users from encountering any browser warnings or other unexpected behavior. If you choose to use the self-signed certificate included with Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Server during testing, you will experience the following:

  • Web browser and ArcGIS Desktop warnings about the site being untrusted. When a web browser encounters a self-signed certificate, it will typically display a warning and ask you to confirm that you want to proceed to the site. Many browsers display warning icons or a red color in the address bar as long as you are using the self-signed certificate. You should expect to see these types of warnings if you use a self-signed certificate.
  • Inability to open a federated service in the portal map viewer, add a secured service item to the portal, log in to ArcGIS Server Manager on a federated server, and connect to the portal from ArcGIS Maps for Office.
  • Unexpected behavior when configuring utility services, printing hosted services, and accessing the portal from client applications.

The above list of issues you will experience when using a self-signed certificate is not exhaustive. It's imperative that you use a CA-signed certificate to fully test and deploy your portal.

For instructions on how to configure Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Server, and ArcGIS Web Adaptor with a CA-signed certificate, see the following topics:

Configure HTTPS

When you initially configure your deployment of portal, anytime you are challenged for your credentials, the user name and password are sent using HTTPS. This means that your credentials sent over an internal network or the Internet are encrypted and cannot be intercepted. However, all other communication in your portal is sent over HTTP, which is not secure. To prevent the interception of any communication within the portal, it is recommended that you configure your portal and the web server hosting ArcGIS Web Adaptor to enforce HTTPS.

Requiring HTTPS for all communication may affect the performance of your portal. Also, if you have shortcuts or bookmarks to the portal website that use HTTP, you'll need to update these to use HTTPS.

Enforcing HTTPS in your portal also controls communication with external web content, for example, ArcGIS Server services, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) services, and so on. When enforcing HTTPS, Portal for ArcGIS will only access external web content using HTTPS. If HTTPS is unavailable, external content is blocked.

To learn how to enforce HTTPS for all communication in Portal for ArcGIS, see Configure HTTPS.

Disable the ArcGIS Portal Directory

You can disable the ArcGIS Portal Directory to reduce the chance that your portal items, services, web maps, groups, and other resources can be browsed, found in a web search, or queried through HTML forms. Disabling the ArcGIS Portal Directory also provides further protection against cross-site-scripting (XSS) attacks.

The decision to disable the ArcGIS Portal Directory depends on the purpose of your portal and the degree to which it needs to be browsed by users and developers. If you disable the ArcGIS Portal Directory, you may need to prepare to create other lists or metadata about the items available on your portal.

For full instructions, see Disable the ArcGIS Portal Directory.

Configure your firewall to work with portal

Every computer has thousands of ports through which other computers can send information. A firewall is a security mechanism that limits the number of ports on your machine through which other computers can communicate. When you use a firewall to restrict communication to a small number of ports, you can closely monitor those ports to prevent an attack.

Portal for ArcGIS uses certain ports to communicate, such as 7080, 7443, 7005, 7099, 7199, and 7654. As a security best practice, it is recommended that you open your firewall to allow communication on these ports; otherwise, your portal may not function correctly. To learn more, see Ports used by Portal for ArcGIS.

Specify the default token expiration time

If you're using portal's built-in identity store, a token is used to authenticate members. When a user attempts to access the portal, they provide their user name and password. Portal for ArcGIS verifies the supplied credentials, generates a token, and issues a token to the member.

A token is a string of encrypted information that contains the user's name, the token expiration time, and other proprietary information. When a token is issued to the member, they can access the portal until the token expires. When it expires, the member must provide their user name and password again.

The default expiration time is two weeks (20,160 minutes). Although this may be appropriate for your organization, a token with a longer expiration time is less secure. For example, a token intercepted by a malicious user can be used until the token expires. Conversely, a shorter expiration time is more secure, but members will need to enter their user name and password more frequently.

To change the default token expiration time, follow the steps in Specify the default token expiration time.

Restrict file permissions

It is recommended that file permissions be set so that only necessary access is granted to the Portal for ArcGIS installation directory and content directory. The only account that the Portal for ArcGIS software requires to have access to is the Portal for ArcGIS account. This is the account that is being used to run the software. Your organization may require that additional accounts also be given access. Keep in mind that the Portal for ArcGIS account needs full access to the installation and content directories in order for your site to function properly.

Portal for ArcGIS inherits file permissions from the parent folder where it is installed. Additionally, Portal for ArcGIS grants permission to the Portal for ArcGIS account so it can access the directory where it is installed. Files created as the portal runs inherit their permissions from the parent folder. If you wish to secure the content directory, set restricted permissions on the parent folder.

Any account that has write access to the content directory can change Portal for ArcGIS settings that normally can only be modified by an administrator of the system. If a built-in security store is being used to maintain users, the content directory will contain encrypted passwords for those users. In this case, read access to the content directory should also be restricted.