Multi-Factor Authentication in Amazon WorkSpaces

(Update) On the topic of Multi-Factor Authentication, we recommend two new courses we’ve released Understanding of AWS Authentication, Authorization & Accounting and Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication on Azure. 


Just a few days ago we talked about how to protect your AWS based server with Multi-Factor Authentication.

This not-so-new technology is spreading more and more, especially given that it hugely increases security at the very tiny inconvenience of entering a One-Time-Password every time you log in to your system.  The OTP can be generated either by a physical or a virtual device, like for example a smartphone app. This is extremely convenient, especially considered that we always (or almost always) have our smartphone around, and even if someone stoles it, the thief still hasn’t all the pieces needed to log into our account. So, we all like MFA, and we like it so much that Amazon added support for Multi-Factor Authentication in Amazon WorkSpaces, one if the services of its AWS family. Even better: it’s available for free!
Amazon WorkSpaces Logo

What is Amazon WorkSpaces?

We don’t talk about WorkSpaces that often on this blog. Actually, it’s definitely not a first-tier service of AWS. Nevertheless, it’s having quite a success and has many interesting applications, so it’s still good to learn more about it.
Amazon describes WorkSpaces as a “fully managed desktop computing service in the cloud“. In other words, WorkSpaces allows you to launch cloud-based Windows desktop instances that users can access from their own device, including mobile devices like iPad, Android tablets, and of course Amazon’s Kindle Fire. End users will have a complete Windows 7 based desktop interface, easing all the burden of installing device drivers or setting up applications. As it happens with many SaaS solutions (or maybe we should call it an “Operating System as a Service”?), the price for this convenience is a loss of flexibility at a certain degree. Anyway, WorkSpaces still is a viable solution, with a high-security level granted by the adoption of the PCoIP protocol, and with lower costs than other on-premises Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

How to enable MFA in Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon added support for MFA using an on-premises RADIUS server, meaning that users will be able to authenticate themselves using the same mechanism that they already use for other remote access systems of their organization. So, after MFA has been enabled and configured, WorkSpaces users will just log in by entering their usual Active Directory user name and password, and then the One-Time Password supplied by either a hardware or a virtual device, just like the smartphone application we discussed earlier.

The new WorkSpaces feature works with any security provider supporting RADIUS. Amazon added support for many protocols, including PAP, CHAP, MS-CHAP1, and MS-CHAP2, which should be enough to grant compatibility with the vast majority of the existing infrastructures. To actually enable MFA, the WorkSpaces administrator must configure the new feature by entering the connection information for the on-premises RADIUS server in the Directories section of the WorkSpaces console. If high availability is a concern, it’s possible to provide multiple RADIUS servers, either adding all their IP addresses or deploying an Elastic Load Balancer in front of them.

Avatar

Written by

Andrea Colangelo

Software Engineer with a solid focus on QA and an extensive experience in ICT. Above all, Andrea has a very strong interest in Free and Open Source Software, and he is a Debian and Ubuntu Developer since years. Non-tech interests include: Rugby, Jazz music and Cooking.

Related Posts

Avatar
Michael Sheehy
— August 19, 2019

What Exactly Is a Cloud Architect and How Do You Become One?

One of the buzzwords surrounding the cloud that I'm sure you've heard is "Cloud Architect." In this article, I will outline my understanding of what a cloud architect does and I'll analyze the skills and certifications necessary to become one. I will also list some of the types of jobs ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Computing
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 13, 2019

Content Roadmap: AZ-500, ITIL 4, MS-100, Google Cloud Associate Engineer, and More

Last month, Cloud Academy joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider, and it put us in an excellent position to solve a massive skills gap problem. As a result of this collaboration, you will see our training library grow with additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Google Cloud Platform
Avatar
Adam Hawkins
— August 9, 2019

DevSecOps: How to Secure DevOps Environments

Security has been a friction point when discussing DevOps. This stems from the assumption that DevOps teams move too fast to handle security concerns. This makes sense if Information Security (InfoSec) is separate from the DevOps value stream, or if development velocity exceeds the band...

Read more
  • AWS
  • cloud security
  • DevOps
  • DevSecOps
  • Security
Avatar
Stefano Giacone
— August 8, 2019

Test Your Cloud Knowledge on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform

Cloud skills are in demand | In today's digital era, employers are constantly seeking skilled professionals with working knowledge of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. According to the 2019 Trends in Cloud Transformation report by 451 Research: Business and IT transformations re...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud skills
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 7, 2019

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

If you want to deliver digital services of any kind, you’ll need to estimate all types of resources, not the least of which are CPU, memory, storage, and network connectivity. Which resources you choose for your delivery —  cloud-based or local — is up to you. But you’ll definitely want...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 6, 2019

Google Cloud vs AWS: A Comparison (or can they be compared?)

The "Google Cloud vs AWS" argument used to be a common discussion among our members, but is this still really a thing? You may already know that there are three major players in the public cloud platforms arena: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— July 29, 2019

Deployment Orchestration with AWS Elastic Beanstalk

If you're responsible for the development and deployment of web applications within your AWS environment for your organization, then it's likely you've heard of AWS Elastic Beanstalk. If you are new to this service, or simply need to know a bit more about the service and the benefits th...

Read more
  • AWS
  • elastic beanstalk
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— July 26, 2019

How to Use & Install the AWS CLI

What is the AWS CLI? | The AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is for managing your AWS services from a terminal session on your own client, allowing you to control and configure multiple AWS services and implement a level of automation. If you’ve been using AWS for some time and feel...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS CLI
  • Command line interface
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 22, 2019

Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: July 2019

July has been a very exciting month for us at Cloud Academy. On July 10, we officially joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider (read the announcement). Over the coming weeks, you will see additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+ certification courses and 1500+ ins...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Academy
  • Cybersecurity
  • DevOps
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— July 18, 2019

AWS Fundamentals: Understanding Compute, Storage, Database, Networking & Security

If you are just starting out on your journey toward mastering AWS cloud computing, then your first stop should be to understand the AWS fundamentals. This will enable you to get a solid foundation to then expand your knowledge across the entire AWS service catalog.   It can be both d...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Compute
  • Database
  • fundamentals
  • networking
  • Security
  • Storage
Avatar
Adam Hawkins
— July 17, 2019

How to Become a DevOps Engineer

The DevOps Handbook introduces DevOps as a framework for improving the process for converting a business hypothesis into a technology-enabled service that delivers value to the customer. This process is called the value stream. Accelerate finds that applying DevOps principles of flow, f...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
  • DevOps
  • DevOps Foundation Certification
  • Engineer
  • Kubernetes
Avatar
Vineet Badola
— July 15, 2019

AWS AMI Virtualization Types: HVM vs PV (Paravirtual VS Hardware VM)

Amazon Machine Images (AWS AMI) offers two types of virtualization: Paravirtual (PV) and Hardware Virtual Machine (HVM). Each solution offers its own advantages. When we’re using AWS, it’s easy for someone — almost without thinking —  to choose which AMI flavor seems best when spinning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Hardware Virtual Machine
  • Paravirtual
  • Virtualization