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Configuring SAML single sign-on for your enterprise

You can control and secure access to your GitHub Enterprise Server instance by configuring SAML single sign-on (SSO) through your identity provider (IdP).

Site administrators can configure SAML SSO for a GitHub Enterprise Server instance.

About SAML SSO

SAML SSO allows you to centrally control and secure access to your GitHub Enterprise Server instance from your SAML IdP. When an unauthenticated user visits your GitHub Enterprise Server instance in a browser, GitHub Enterprise Server will redirect the user to your SAML IdP to authenticate. After the user successfully authenticates with an account on the IdP, the IdP redirects the user back to your GitHub Enterprise Server instance. GitHub Enterprise Server validates the response from your IdP, then grants access to the user.

After a user successfully authenticates on your IdP, the user's SAML session for your GitHub Enterprise Server instance is active in the browser for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the user must authenticate again with your IdP.

If you remove a user from your IdP, you must also manually suspend them. Otherwise, the account's owner can continue to authenticate using access tokens or SSH keys. For more information, see "Suspending and unsuspending users".

Supported identity providers

GitHub Enterprise Server supports SAML SSO with IdPs that implement the SAML 2.0 standard. For more information, see the SAML Wiki on the OASIS website.

GitHub officially supports and internally tests the following IdPs.

  • Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS)
  • Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
  • Okta
  • OneLogin
  • PingOne
  • Shibboleth

Configuring SAML SSO

You can enable or disable SAML authentication for your GitHub Enterprise Server instance, or you can edit an existing configuration. You can view and edit authentication settings for GitHub Enterprise Server in the management console. For more information, see "Accessing the management console."

Note: GitHub strongly recommends that you verify any new configuration for authentication in a staging environment. An incorrect configuration could result in downtime for your GitHub Enterprise Server instance. For more information, see "Setting up a staging instance."

  1. From an administrative account on GitHub Enterprise Server, in the upper-right corner of any page, click .

    Screenshot of the rocket ship icon for accessing site admin settings

  2. If you're not already on the "Site admin" page, in the upper-left corner, click Site admin.

    Screenshot of "Site admin" link

  3. In the left sidebar, click Management Console. Management Console tab in the left sidebar

  4. In the left sidebar, click Authentication. Authentication tab in the settings sidebar

  5. Select SAML.

    Screenshot of option to enable SAML authentication in management console

  6. Optionally, to allow people without an account on your external authentication system to sign in with built-in authentication, select Allow built-in authentication. For more information, see "Allowing built-in authentication for users outside your provider."

    Screenshot of option to enable built-in authentication outside of SAML IdP

  7. Optionally, to enable unsolicited response SSO, select IdP initiated SSO. By default, GitHub Enterprise Server will reply to an unsolicited Identity Provider (IdP) initiated request with an AuthnRequest back to the IdP.

    Screenshot of option to enable IdP-initiated unsolicited response

    Note: We recommend keeping this value unselected. You should enable this feature only in the rare instance that your SAML implementation does not support service provider initiated SSO, and when advised by GitHub Enterprise Support.

  8. Select Disable administrator demotion/promotion if you do not want your SAML provider to determine administrator rights for users on your GitHub Enterprise Server instance.

    Screenshot of option to enable option to respect the "administrator" attribute from the IdP to enable or disable administrative rights

  9. In the Single sign-on URL field, type the HTTP or HTTPS endpoint on your IdP for single sign-on requests. This value is provided by your IdP configuration. If the host is only available from your internal network, you may need to configure your GitHub Enterprise Server instance to use internal nameservers.

    Screenshot of text field for single sign-on URL

  10. Optionally, in the Issuer field, type your SAML issuer's name. This verifies the authenticity of messages sent to your GitHub Enterprise Server instance.

    Screenshot of text field for SAML issuer URL

  11. In the Signature Method and Digest Method drop-down menus, choose the hashing algorithm used by your SAML issuer to verify the integrity of the requests from your GitHub Enterprise Server instance. Specify the format with the Name Identifier Format drop-down menu.

    Screenshot of drop-down menus to select signature and digest method

  12. Under Verification certificate, click Choose File and choose a certificate to validate SAML responses from the IdP.

    Screenshot of button for uploading validation certificate from IdP

  13. Modify the SAML attribute names to match your IdP if needed, or accept the default names.

    Screenshot of fields for entering additional SAML attributes

Further reading