A new version of Anthos clusters on AWS (GKE on AWS) was released on February 3. For more information, see the release notes.

Authenticating with OpenID Connect (OIDC)

Learn how to configure Anthos clusters on AWS (GKE on AWS) to use OpenID Connect (OIDC) for authentication to user clusters. This topic covers the process in general to help you understand how to configure any OpenID provider.

For an overview of the Anthos clusters on AWS authentication flow, see Authentication.


Anthos clusters on AWS supports OIDC as one of the authentication mechanisms for interacting with a user cluster's Kubernetes API server. With OIDC, you can manage access to Kubernetes clusters by using the standard procedures in your organization for creating, enabling, and disabling user accounts.

Before you begin

  • This topic assumes you are familiar with the following authentication and OpenID concepts:

  • Cloud SDK and the gcloud command-line tool must be installed on each developer's local machine.

  • Headless systems are unsupported. To authenticate, you must open a browser on the local machine running the gcloud tool. The browser then prompts you to authorize your user account.

  • To authenticate through the Google Cloud Console, each cluster that you want to configure for OIDC authentication must be registered with Google Cloud.


This topic refers to three personas:

  • Organization administrator: This person chooses an OpenID provider and registers client applications with the provider.

  • Cluster administrator: This person creates one or more user clusters and creates authentication configuration files for developers who use the clusters.

  • Developer: This person runs workloads on one or more clusters and uses OIDC to authenticate.

Choosing an OpenID provider

This section is for organization administrators.

You can use any OpenID provider of your choice. For a list of certified providers, see OpenID Certification.

Creating redirect URLs

This section is for organization administrators.

The OpenID provider uses redirect URLs to return ID tokens. You must create redirect URLs for both the gcloud tool and the Cloud Console.

Setting the gcloud tool redirect URL

When you configure your OpenID provider, specify your CLI redirect URL as http://localhost:PORT/callback

Replace PORT with your port number greater than 1024.

Setting the Cloud Console redirect URL

The redirect URL for the Cloud Console is:


When you configure your OIDC provider, specify https://console.cloud.google.com/kubernetes/oidc as one of your redirect URLs.

Registering your client applications with the OpenID provider

This section is for organization administrators.

Before your developers can use the gcloud command-line tool or the Cloud Console with your OpenID provider, you need to register those two clients with the OpenID provider. Registration includes these steps:

  • Learn your provider's issuer URI. The gcloud tool or Cloud Console sends authentication requests to this URI.

  • Configure your provider with the redirect URL, including your port number, for the gcloud tool.

  • Configure your provider with the redirect URL for the Cloud Console, https://console.cloud.google.com/kubernetes/oidc.

  • Create a single client ID that your provider uses to identify both the gcloud command-line tool and the Cloud Console.

  • Create a single client secret that the gcloud tool and the Cloud Console use to authenticate to the OpenID provider.

  • Create a custom scope that the gcloud tool or Cloud Console can use to request the user's security groups.

  • Create a custom claim name that the provider uses to return the user's security groups.

Configuring your cluster

This section is for cluster administrators.

To configure OIDC authentication, you need to configure your user cluster's AWSCluster CRD with authentication details for a cluster. Details from the AWSCluster are used to configure OIDC for both the Cloud Console and the Authentication Plugin for Anthos. The configuration includes the following OIDC information:

      - AWS_IAM_ARN
  -   certificateAuthorityData: CERTIFICATE_STRING
      clientID: CLIENT_ID
      clientSecret: CLIENT_SECRET
      extraParams:  EXTRA_PARAMS
      groupsClaim:  GROUPS_CLAIM
      groupPrefix:  GROUP_PREFIX
      issuerURI:  ISSUER_URI
      kubectlRedirectURI:  KUBECTL_REDIRECT_URI
      scopes:  SCOPES
      userClaim:  USER_CLAIM
      userPrefix:  USER_PREFIX

The following table describes the fields of the authentication.awsIAM.adminIdentityARNs object.

The following table describes the fields of the `oidc` object.
Field Required Description Format
adminIdentityARNs Yes, if configuring OIDC. Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the AWS IAM identities (users or roles) granted cluster administrator access by Anthos clusters on AWS. Example: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:group/Developers String
Field Required Description Format
certificateAuthorityData No A base64-encoded PEM-encoded certificate for the OIDC provider. To create the string, encode the certificate, including headers, into base64. Include the resulting string in certificateAuthorityData as a single line. Example: certificateAuthorityData: LS0tLS1CRUdJTiBDRVJUSUZJQ0FURS0tLS0tC...k1JSUN2RENDQWFT== String
clientID Yes ID for the client application that makes authentication requests to the OpenID provider. String
clientSecret No Shared secret between OIDC client application and OIDC provider. String
extraParams No Additional key-value parameters to send to the OpenID provider. If you are authorizing a group, pass in resource=token-groups-claim.

If your authorization server prompts for consent, for authentication with Microsoft Azure and Okta, set extraParams to prompt=consent. For Cloud Identity, set extraParams to prompt=consent,access_type=offline.

Comma-delimited list
groupsClaim No JWT claim that the provider uses to return your security groups. String
groupPrefix No Prefix prepended to group claims to prevent clashes with existing names. For example, If you have two groups named foobar add a prefix gid-, the result group is gid-foobar. String
issuerURI Yes URL where authorization requests are sent to your OpenID, such as https://example.com/adfs. The Kubernetes API server uses this URL to discover public keys for verifying tokens. The URI must use HTTPS. URL String
kubectlRedirectURI Yes The redirect url `kubectl` uses for authorization. URL String
scopes Yes Additional scopes to send to the OpenID provider. Microsoft Azure and Okta require the offline_access scope. Comma-delimited list
userClaim No JWT claim to use as the username. You can choose other claims, such as email or name, depending on the OpenID provider. However, claims other than email are prefixed with the issuer URL to prevent naming clashes. String
userPrefix No Prefix prepended to username claims to prevent clashes with existing names. String

Example: Authorizing users and groups

Many providers encode user-identifying properties, such as email and user IDs, in a token. However, these properties have implicit risks for authentication policies:

  • User IDs can make policies difficult to read and audit.
  • Using email addresses can create both an availability risk (if a user changes their primary email) and a security risk (if an email can be re-assigned).

Instead of assigning user IDs, we recommend group policies, which can be both persistent and easier to audit.

Suppose your provider creates identity tokens that include the following fields:

  'iss': 'https://server.example.com'
  'sub': 'u98523-4509823'
  'groupList': ['developers@example.corp', 'us-east1-cluster-admins@example.corp']

Given this token format, you'd populate your configuration file's oidc specification like so:

issuerURL: 'https://server.example.com'
username: 'sub'
usernamePrefix: 'uid-'
group: 'groupList'
groupPrefix: 'gid-'
extraParams: 'resource=token-groups-claim'

After you've created your user cluster, you use Kubernetes role-based access control (RBAC) to grant privileged access to the authenticated users.

In the following example, you create a ClusterRole that grants its users read- only access to the cluster's Secrets, and create a ClusterRoleBinding resource to bind the role to the authenticated group.

  1. Define a ClusterRole. Copy the following YAML into a file named secret-reader-role.yaml.

    apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
    kind: ClusterRole
      name: secret-reader
    - apiGroups: [""]
      # The resource type for which access is granted
      resources: ["secrets"]
      # The permissions granted by the ClusterRole
      verbs: ["get", "watch", "list"]
  2. Define a ClusterRoleBinding. Copy the following YAML into a file named secret-reader-admins.yaml.

    apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
    kind: ClusterRoleBinding
      name: read-secrets-admins
      # Allows anyone in the "us-east1-cluster-admins" group to
      # read Secrets in any namespace within this cluster.
    - kind: Group
      name: gid-us-east1-cluster-admins # Name is case sensitive
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
      # Allows this specific user to read Secrets in any
      # namespace within this cluster
    - kind: User
      name: uid-u98523-4509823
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
      kind: ClusterRole
      name: secret-reader
      apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  3. Apply secret-reader-role.yaml and secret-reader-admins.yaml to your cluster with kubectl.

    env HTTP_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
      kubectl apply -f secret-reader-role.yaml && \
      kubectl apply -f secret-reader-admins.yaml

    Users granted access in read-secrets-admins now have access to read Secrets in your cluster.

Create a login config

This section is for cluster administrators.

After you create a user cluster, you need to generate a configuration file for the cluster using gcloud anthos create-login-config.

  1. From your anthos-aws directory, use anthos-gke to switch context to your user cluster.

    cd anthos-aws
    env HTTP_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
    anthos-gke aws clusters get-credentials CLUSTER_NAME

  2. Create the configuration with gcloud anthos.

    gcloud anthos create-login-config --kubeconfig usercluster-kubeconfig

    Replace usercluster-kubeconfig with the path to your user cluster's kubeconfig file. On Linux and macOS, by default this file is at ~/.kube/config.

This command generates a file (kubectl-anthos-config.yaml) containing the configuration information your developers use to authenticate to the cluster with the gcloud tool. You should not modify this file.

To understand more about the contents of kubectl-anthos-config.yaml, see the appendix.

Distribute the login config

Distribute the config file to users that need to authenticate to your user clusters. You can distribute the config by:

  • Placing the file in the default directory.
  • Securely distributing the file.
  • Hosting the file on an HTTPS server.

Login config default directories

The default locations for storing the configuration file for each OS are as follows:

$HOME/.config/google/anthos/kubectl-anthos-config.yaml, where $HOME is the user's home directory.
$HOME/Library/Preferences/google/anthos/kubectl-anthos-config.yaml, where $HOME is the user's home directory.
%APPDATA%/google/anthos/kubectl-anthos-config.yaml, where %APPDATA% is the user's application data directory.

After the login config has been distributed, your developers are ready to configure the gcloud tool to access the cluster.

Configuring gcloud to access your cluster

This section is for developers or cluster administrators.


To complete this section, you must complete the following:

  • A login config.
  • An updated version of the gcloud tool with the anthos-auth components.

    gcloud components update
    gcloud components install anthos-auth
  • Verify that the gcloud CLI was installed successfully by running the following command, which should respond with details about the required arguments and available options.

    gcloud anthos auth


You can authenticate to your cluster the following ways:

  • With the gcloud tool on your local machine.
  • With the gcloud tool on a remote machine using an SSH tunnel.
  • With Connect on the Google Cloud Console.

gcloud local

Use gcloud anthos auth login to authenticate to your cluster with your login config.

If you placed the login config in the default location and have the cluster name configured, you can use gcloud anthos auth login with no options. You can also configure the cluster, user, and other authentication details with optional parameters.


gcloud anthos auth login --cluster CLUSTER_NAME

Replace CLUSTER_NAME with a fully qualified cluster name. For example, projects/my-gcp-project/locations/global/memberships/cluster-0-0123456a.

Optional parameters

gcloud anthos auth login supports the following optional parameters:

gcloud anthos auth login --cluster CLUSTER_NAME \
--user USERNAME --login-config ANTHOS_CONFIG_YAML \
--login-config-cert LOGIN_CONFIG_CERT_PEM \
--kubeconfig=KUBECONFIG --dry-run

The parameters are described in the following table.

Parameter Description
cluster The name of the cluster to authenticate to. Defaults to the cluster in `kubectl-anthos-config.yaml`.
user Username for credentials in kubeconfig. Defaults to {cluster-name}-anthos-default-user.
login-config Either the path to the configuration file generated by the cluster admin for the developer or a URL hosting the file. Defaults to kubectl-anthos-config.yaml.
login-config-cert If using a URL for login-config, the path to the CA certificate file for making HTTPS connections.
kubeconfig Path to the kubeconfig file that contains tokens. Defaults to $HOME/.kube/config`.
dry-run Test your command-line options without changing your configuration or cluster.

The gcloud anthos login command launches a browser that asks the user to log in with their enterprise credentials, performs the OIDC credential exchange, and acquires the relevant tokens. The gcloud tool then writes the tokens to a kubeconfig file. kubectl uses this file to authenticate to the user cluster.

To verify that the authentication was successful, run any kubectl command with your kubeconfig file:

env HTTP_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
  kubectl get nodes --kubeconfig my.kubeconfig

gcloud tunnel

If you want to authenticate to a user cluster from a remote machine, you can perform the authentication using an SSH tunnel. To use a tunnel, your authentication configuration file must be on the remote machine, and you must be able to reach your Open ID provider from your local machine.

On your local machine, run the following command:


Replace the following:

  • USERNAME with a user that has SSH access to the remote machine.

  • REMOTE_MACHINE with the remote machine's hostname or IP address.

  • LOCAL_PORT is an available port on your local machine that ssh uses to tunnel to the remote machine.

  • REMOTE_PORT is the port that you configured for your OIDC redirect URL. The port number is part of the kubectlRedirectURI field of your authentication configuration file.

In your SSH shell, run the following command to initiate authentication:

gcloud anthos auth login --login-config AUTH_CONFIG_FILE

Replace AUTH_CONFIG_FILE with the path of your authentication configuration file on the remote machine. The gcloud tool runs a web server on the remote machine.

On your local machine, in a browser, go to http://localhost:LOCAL_PORT/login and follow the OIDC login flow.

The kubeconfig file on your remote machine now has the token to access the user cluster.

In your SSH shell, verify that you have access to the user cluster:

kubectl --kubeconfig USER_CLUSTER_KUBECONFIG get nodes


You can authenticate with the Google Cloud Console, initiate the authentication flow from the Kubernetes clusters page in the Cloud Console:

  1. Open the Cloud Console:

    Visit the Kubernetes clusters page

  2. Locate your Anthos clusters on AWS cluster in the list and then click Login.

  3. Select Authenticate with the Identity Provider configured for the cluster, and then click LOGIN.

    You are redirected to your identity provider, where you might need to log in or consent to the Cloud Console accessing your account. You are then redirected back to the Kubernetes clusters page on the Cloud Console.

Appendix: Example login config

An example kubectl-anthos-config.yaml follows. This example is included for understanding its contents. You should always generate the file with gcloud anthos create-login-config.

apiVersion: authentication.gke.io/v2alpha1
kind: ClientConfig
 name: default
 namespace: kube-public
  - name: oidc
      clientID: CLIENT_CONFIG
      clientSecret: CLIENT_SECRET
      extraParams: resource=k8s-group-claim,domain_hint=consumers
      certificateAuthorityData:   AUTHORITY_DATA
      issuerURI: https://adfs.contoso.com/adfs
      kubectlRedirectURI: http://redirect.kubectl.com/
      scopes: allatclaim,group
      userClaim: "sub"
      groupsClaim: "groups"
  certificateAuthorityData: CERTIFICATE_AUTHORITY_DATA
  name: projects/my-project/locations/global/membership/cluster-0
  preferredAuthentication: oidc

What's next

Deploy your first workload to Anthos clusters on AWS.