I'm setting up OpenVPN on PfSense 2.0, and now i wonder if should use the "auth-user-pass" option, set an passphrase on the openssl keys or both.

Both require an extra password beside of the valid certificat, but i don't know if one method is more secure than the other.

It seems that only the "auth-user-pass" method is directly supported in the PfSense web-interface, so that using a passhrase would mean an extra step (adding the passphrase with the openssl command) for each certificate.

  • You forgot to mention what it is you wanted to know - the question is missing. – the-wabbit Dec 18 '11 at 13:58
  • My Question is in the first sentence: "and now i wonder if should use the "auth-user-pass" option, set an passphrase on the openssl keys or both." I don't know if one of the 2 options is better/more secure than the other. – rmweiss Dec 18 '11 at 20:20

The two different passwords, although similar in what the user does see, are completely different in what they protect.

The private key password is the decryption key to the user's private key, introducing security for data-at-rest situations. It can be changed and removed by the user at her liking, provided she is familiar with x.509 certificate and private key handling. It should be noted that in the best of all worlds, you as the VPN gateway operator would not have any knowledge of the user's private keys and their passwords as those would be generated and maintained by the users themselves.

The auth-user-pass directive is querying a username/password combination for OpenVPN access. It is comparable to what XAuth does for IPSec - using it OpenVPN can be integrated with external authentication services like RADIUS, LDAP or PAM. This can be used to mitigate "stolen private key" incidents, but more likely it is ending up as the sole method of authentication in most installations so OpenVPN could run entirely without client certificates (with the client-cert-not-required option) and provide some single-sign-on functionality for VPN dialup road warriors.

Whether one of the options is "better" than the other depends heavily on what actually you are doing and what you want to accomplish.

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