Enable smart card authentication - Amazon Directory Service
Services or capabilities described in Amazon Web Services documentation might vary by Region. To see the differences applicable to the China Regions, see Getting Started with Amazon Web Services in China (PDF).

Enable smart card authentication

To enable smart card authentication for WorkSpaces on your AD Connector, first you need to import your certificate authority (CA) certificates into AD Connector. You can import your CA certificates into AD Connector using Amazon Directory Service console, API or CLI. Use the following steps to import your CA certificates and subsequently enable smart card authentication.

Step 1: Enable Kerberos constrained delegation for the AD Connector service account

To use smart card authentication with AD Connector, you must enable Kerberos Constrained Delegation (KCD) for the AD Connector Service account to the LDAP service in the self-managed AD directory.

Kerberos Constrained Delegation is a feature in Windows Server. This feature enables administrators to specify and enforce application trust boundaries by limiting the scope where application services can act on a user’s behalf. For more information, see Kerberos constrained delegation.


Kerberos Constrained Delegation (KCD) requires the username portion of the AD Connector service account to match the sAMAccountName of the same user. The sAMAccountName is restricted to 20 characters. sAMAccountName is a Microsoft Active Directory attribute used as a sign in name for prior versions of Windows clients and servers.

  1. Use the SetSpn command to set a Service Principal Name (SPN) for the AD Connector service account in the self-managed AD. This enables the service account for delegation configuration.

    The SPN can be any service or name combination but not a duplicate of an existing SPN. The -s checks for duplicates.

    setspn -s my/spn service_account
  2. In AD Users and Computers, open the context (right-click) menu and choose the AD Connector service account and choose Properties.

  3. Choose the Delegation tab.

  4. Choose the Trust this user for delegation to specified service only and Use any authentication protocol options.

  5. Choose Add and then Users or Computers to locate the domain controller.

  6. Choose OK to display a list of available services used for delegation.

  7. Choose the ldap service type and choose OK.

  8. Choose OK again to save the configuration.

  9. Repeat this process for other domain controllers in the Active Directory. Alternatively you can automate the process using PowerShell.

Step 2: Register the CA certificate in AD Connector

Use either of the following methods to register a CA certificate for your AD Connector directory.

Method 1: To register your CA certificate in AD Connector (Amazon Web Services Management Console)
  1. In the Amazon Directory Service console navigation pane, select Directories.

  2. Choose the directory ID link for your directory.

  3. On the Directory details page, choose the Networking & security tab.

  4. In the Smart card authentication section, choose Actions, and then choose Register certificate.

  5. In the Register a certificate dialog box, select Choose file, and then choose a certificate and choose Open. You can optionally choose to perform revocation checking for this certificate by providing an Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) responder URL. For more information about OCSP, see Certificate revocation checking process.

  6. Choose Register certificate. When you see the certificate status change to Registered, the registration process has completed successfully.

Method 2: To register your CA certificate in AD Connector (Amazon CLI)
  • Run the following command. For the certificate data, point to the location of your CA certificate file. To provide a secondary OCSP responder address, use the optional ClientCertAuthSettings object.

    aws ds register-certificate --directory-id your_directory_id --certificate-data file://your_file_path --type ClientCertAuth --client-cert-auth-settings OCSPUrl=http://your_OCSP_address

    If successful, the response provides a certificate ID. You can also verify your CA certificate registered successfully by running the following CLI command:

    aws ds list-certificates --directory-id your_directory_id

    If the status value returns Registered, you have successfully registered your certificate.

Step 3: Enable smart card authentication for supported Amazon applications and services

Use either of the following methods to register a CA certificate for your AD Connector directory.

Method 1: To enable smart card authentication in AD Connector (Amazon Web Services Management Console)
  1. Navigate to the Smart card authentication section on the Directory details page, and choose Enable. If this option is not available, verify that a valid certificate has been successfully registered, and then try again.

  2. In the Enable smart card authentication dialog box, select Enable.

Method 2: To enable smart card authentication in AD Connector (Amazon CLI)
  • Run the following command.

    aws ds enable-client-authentication --directory-id your_directory_id --type SmartCard

    If successful, AD Connector returns an HTTP 200 response with an empty HTTP body.