Auth methods are the components in Vault that perform authentication and are responsible for assigning identity and a set of policies to a user. In all cases, Vault will enforce authentication as part of the request processing. In most cases, Vault will delegate the authentication administration and decision to the relevant configured external auth method (e.g., Amazon Web Services, GitHub, Google Cloud Platform, Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure, Okta ...).
Having multiple auth methods enables you to use an auth method that makes the most sense for your use case of Vault and your organization.
For example, on developer machines, the GitHub auth method is easiest to use. But for servers the AppRole method is the recommended choice.
To learn more about authentication, see the authentication concepts page.
Enabling/Disabling Auth Methods
Auth methods can be enabled/disabled using the CLI or the API.
$ vault auth enable userpass
When enabled, auth methods are similar to secrets engines:
they are mounted within the Vault mount table and can be accessed
and configured using the standard read/write API. All auth methods are mounted underneath the
By default, auth methods are mounted to
auth/<type>. For example, if you
enable "github", then you can interact with it at
auth/github. However, this
path is customizable, allowing users with advanced use cases to mount a single
auth method multiple times.
$ vault auth enable -path=my-login userpass
When an auth method is disabled, all users authenticated via that method are automatically logged out.
External Auth Method Considerations
When using an external auth method (e.g., GitHub), Vault will call the external service at the time of authentication and for any subsequent token renewals. This means that issued tokens are valid for their entire duration, and are not invalidated until a renewal or user re-authentication occurs. Operators should ensure appropriate token TTLs are set when using these auth methods.