Cisco ASA – AnyConnect Authentication via LDAP and Domain User Groups

KB ID 0001152


When I first started doing Cisco remote VPNs, we had Server 2000/2003 and I used to use RADIUS with IAS. Then Microsoft brought out 2008/2012 and RADIUS via NAP. Because I fear and loath change I swapped to using Kerberos VPN Authentication for a while. I had to put in an ASA5512-X this weekend and the client wanted to allow AnyConnect to a particular Domain Security Group “VPN-Users”, so I thought I would use LDAP for a change.

The process is to setup AAA for LDAP, then create an ‘Attribute map’ for the domain group, and then map that group to a particular ASA Tunnel Group/ASA Group Policy. Though to be honest if you have multiple groups and want to assign different levels of access (i.e. different ACLs etc.) then using a blend of LDAP and Cisco Dynamic Access Policies (DAP) is a lot simpler.

I’ll post both options, and you can take your pick


Firstly you need to create a ‘service account’ in Active Directory that the ASA will use, it only need to be able to browse the AD, so a simple Domain User is fine.

Cisco ASA Service Account

Then create a user group that you want to grant AnyConnect Access to;

AnyConnect Remote VPN Group

And, then create a test user and put that user in your domain group.

Group Membership AnyConnect

Configure the ASA for LDAP

Create an AAA LDAP Server Group > Add a Server > Put in the Config for that server like so;


Type help or '?' for a list of available commands.
Petes-ASA> enable
Password: ********
Petes-ASA# configure terminal
Petes-ASA(config)# aaa-server PNL-LDAP-SERVER protocol ldap 
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-group)# aaa-server PNL-LDAP-SERVER (inside) host
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# ldap-base-dn dc=pnl,dc=com     
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# ldap-scope subtree 
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# ldap-naming-attribute sAMAccountName
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# ldap-login-password P@assword123
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# ldap-login-dn cn=asa,OU=ServiceAccounts,OU=PNL,dc=pnl,dc=com
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# server-type auto-detect 
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)# exit
Petes-ASA(config)# exit

Now perform a test, and make sure it says “successful’

Petes-ASA# test aaa-server authentication PNL-LDAP-SERVER host username 
administrator password P@ssword123
INFO: Attempting Authentication test to IP address  (timeout: 12 seconds)
INFO: Authentication Successful

Add LDAP Authentication For AnyConnect

I’m assuming you already have AnyConnect Setup? If not that’s fine simply follow the article below, which will set it up for LOCAL authentication, set it up and get it working then come back here.

Cisco ASA 5500 AnyConnect Setup From Command Line

To change authenticationΒ from LOCAL you make a change in the Tunnel-Group for you remote VPN connection, if you don’t know what the name of your tunnel group is ‘show run tun’ will list them. You add the authentication-server-group to the general-attributes section of the config, like so;


Petes-ASA(config)# tunnel-group PNL-TG-ANYCONNECT-ACCESS general-attributes
Petes-ASA(config-tunnel-general)# authentication-server-group PNL-LDAP-SERVER LOCAL
Petes-ASA(config-tunnel-general)# exit
Petes-ASA(config)# write mem
Building configuration...
Cryptochecksum: 30899474 8c9cd7c6 495be299 fd911bca 

19681 bytes copied in 3.340 secs (6560 bytes/sec)

Note: At this point ALL DOMAIN USERS can successfully authenticate, to lock it down to one domain security group, either apply a Dynamic Access Policy (these can only be done in the ASDM). or skip further down, to edit and create your group-policies and use an attribute-map.

Cisco ASDM Configure Dynamic Access Policies

Connect to the ASDM > Configuration > Remote Access VPN > Dynamic Access Policies > Add.

ASA Dynamic Access Policy

Add an LDAP Condition > IF NOT a member (or not equal to member) > Insert domain security group. Then set the condition to ‘Terminate’.

AnyConnect Based on AD Group

Then test.Filter AnyConnect Group Membership

Configure Group Access via Attribute Map

As already pointed out I’m assuming you already have AnyConnect in and working, so you will have both a Group-Policy your users are using, and a tunnel-group configured, we will make some changes to those. if you don’t know thew name of your configured group-policy or tunnels group the following two commands will tell you;

  • To see your tunnel group(s): show run tun
  • To see your group-policy(s): show run group-policy

Note: If you have many, simply connect with a user, then run show vpn-sessiondb det anyconnect to get the details.

Firstly create a NEW group-policy that blocks access (this will become the default).

Petes-ASA(config)# group-policy ANYCONNECT-NO-ACCESS internal
Petes-ASA(config)# group-policy ANYCONNECT-NO-ACCESS attributes
Petes-ASA(config-group-policy)#  vpn-simultaneous-logins 0
Petes-ASA(config-group-policy)# exit

Then we will change your EXISTING group-policy to change the simultaneous login threshold

Petes-ASA(config)# group-policy GroupPolicy_ANYCONNECT-PROFILE attributes
Petes-ASA(config-group-policy)#  vpn-simultaneous-logins 3
Petes-ASA(config-group-policy)# exit

Then we will change your EXISTING tunnel-group to change the authentication method, and set the default group-policy to ‘deny’. Note: Ive added the ASA’s local user database as a fall-back in case the LDAP server(s) are down/not-contactable.

Petes-ASA(config)# tunnel-group ANYCONNECT-PROFILE general-attributes
Petes-ASA(config-tunnel-general)#  authentication-server-group PNL-LDAP-SERVER LOCAL
Petes-ASA(config-tunnel-general)#  default-group-policy ANYCONNECT-NO-ACCESS
Petes-ASA(config-tunnel-general)# exit

Create an Attribute map, that matches the AD group that has your ‘allowed’ users in it.

Petes-ASA(config)# ldap attribute-map AM-ANYCONNECT-USERS
Petes-ASA(config-ldap-attribute-map)#   map-name  memberOf Group-Policy
Petes-ASA(config-ldap-attribute-map)#   map-value memberOf CN=VPN-Users,OU=Groups,OU=PNL,DC=pnl,DC=com GroupPolicy_ANYCONNECT-PROFILE
Petes-ASA(config-ldap-attribute-map)# exit

Finally add that Attribute map, to the LDAP server you created earlier.

Petes-ASA(config)# aaa-server PNL-LDAP-SERVER (inside) host
Petes-ASA(config-aaa-server-host)#  ldap-attribute-map AM-ANYCONNECT-USERS

Then test;

LDAP Group Logon AnyConnect


Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

Cisco AnyConnect – Allow Domain Password Change via LDAP

Thanks to Ben Monroe, who emailed me as the original article was lacking the Attribute Map section. I had omitted it originally and stuck with DAP, primarily because I could not get LDAP group authentication to work! I still prefer DAP as a solution, but for the sake of completeness I revisited this, and added the complete LDAP procedure.

Author: PeteLong

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  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the article, but I have one question, from the configuration I do not see how actually asa checks that authenticating user is a member of VPNUser group.. Any ideas?

    Kind regards,

    Post a Reply
    • With LDAP alone, It wont work, you need the DAP as well (Cisco might argue) but I’d ask them to show me a working LDAP only config before I would believe them πŸ™‚


      Post a Reply
    • Hi
      how can we configure two ldap server for anyconnect users. For example
      If ldap-server1 fails the asa should reach to ldap-server2

      Post a Reply
      • Just define another LDAP server in the LDAP AAA group.

        Post a Reply
  2. Great πŸ™‚

    I checked Cisco how to guides, it confused me πŸ™‚

    Yours one: Simple and clear πŸ™‚

    Thanks a lot!!!

    Post a Reply
  3. It works! I was trying to map ldap attribute 2 days until I foud this article! it took me 2 min πŸ™‚

    Post a Reply
  4. Amazing article! The documentation and the threads in Cisco’s forum are so confusing. This article is spot on! Thank you.

    Post a Reply
  5. All I can say is thanks! Wasted two days on trying to get ASA LDAP Attribute Mapping working. DAP is the way to go. Followed PeteLongs steps and in 2 minutes we are up and running using AD Group authentication for VPN! I can see many other policies that we can now set as well. Thanks once again for your post!

    Post a Reply
    • No problem, thanks for the feedback.

      Post a Reply
  6. I wish Google had put your page at the top of the search results. Like everyone else, I have been struggling with LDAP Mapping, but your explanation is easy and makes perfect sense. Thanks for publishing this.

    Post a Reply
    • ThanQ – I wish I was also at the top πŸ™‚

      Post a Reply
  7. I need multiple Group-Profile match and authenticate with different LDAP group. Any idea?


    Post a Reply
    • A Better solution is to use RADIUS then (depending on the group membership) pass the group policy back in the RADIUS reply.

      Post a Reply
      • How do I add this DAP to a specific group policy and not to others
        For instance, I only want this DAP to apply to a specific remote access vpn tunnel profile/group-policy
        I have multiple tunnel-profiles and group-policy
        Does this one DAP apply to one tunnel-profile/group policy both for client/clientless ssl vpns?

        Post a Reply
        • You can’t unfortunately they are global πŸ™

          Post a Reply
  8. If I have two ISPs with different IP address can I use both of them to access remote vpn ?
    Or only one IP aadress can work.

    Post a Reply
    • Great Question! You can access AnyConnect via either public IP, you would need to have both IP addresses registered against the public domain name. And you would need to enable it on both interfaces, and have mirrored NAT rules. (unless you had (inside, any) and not (inside,outside) for example).


      Post a Reply
  9. I need to allow users to change their passwords at the VPN login screen. And to let them know their password is expiring in x days. They already log in using their domain account.

    Post a Reply
    • I’ve added the link to the bottom of the page.


      Post a Reply
  10. FYI – DAP is incompatible with DUO SAML MFA. We’re now trying to tear down our DAP policy to make our ASA usable with DUO.

    Post a Reply
  11. Awesome article. Thank you so much for your knowledge.

    Post a Reply
  12. Unfortunately the cli part doesn’t work.
    As soon as I put ANYCONNECT-NO-ACCESS in no one can connect.

    Post a Reply
    • Pls verify that your group-policy contains vpn-simultaneous-logins 3 (or more)
      otherwise the value from default-group-policy ANYCONNECT-NO-ACCESS is inherited.

      Post a Reply
  13. Hello there!

    This is the best website in the world πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    A side question, what about lockout login in this configuration? I mean how to prevent brute force?
    It seems that setting in the AAA “max fail attempts” = 3 is not working, I can brute it…

    Post a Reply
    • If you are using LDAP you need to set the password and lockout policy on the domain.

      Post a Reply
  14. Question.

    If they have a license in place that limits the amount of users that can connect, does using LDAP change that? Would they be able to have, say, 20 users connect when their license says they are limited to 4?

    Post a Reply
    • No AnyConnect licence usage is concurrent πŸ™‚ Sorry.

      Post a Reply
  15. This worked great!! Thanks for providing these easy to follow steps. The one issue I had was mapping the AD group. We have a space in the group’s DN so I had to put quotes around it to make it work properly.

    Example: map-value memberOf “CN=Group Name with Space,OU=Groups,DC=Company,DC=net” Group-PolicyName

    Post a Reply
  16. Hi!
    When using an AD-group for VPN access, do you know if it is possible to use subgroups under that group?
    I have tried and it didn’t work but I wonder if there is a way to make ASA search recursively.

    And thanks for a great post πŸ™‚

    Post a Reply
    • With LDAP probably not, though with NAP/RADIUS it should work?

      Post a Reply
  17. Hi Pete

    I followed the steps to integrate it with Freeipa(LDAP).
    I could successfully authenticate all users.

    But the Group filter is not working.

    I am getting login failed on all users.

    So, the situation is like either all will authenticate or none.

    Kindly advise.

    Post a Reply
  18. Is anyone else having issues with the fact that OpenLDAP will return memberOf only if it explicitly queried:

    [admin@ldap]$ ldapsearch -x -h localhost -x -b ‘dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com’ “uid=dms.user” memberOf
    version: 1
    dn: uid=dms.user,ou=dms,ou=People,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com
    memberOf: cn=DMS_Group,ou=Groups,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com
    or if a “+” is specified to return operation attributes:

    [admin@ldap]$ ldapsearch -x -h localhost -x -b ‘dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com’ “uid=dms.user” “+”
    version: 1
    dn: uid=dms.user,ou=dms,ou=People,dc=ps,dc=myf,dc=com
    structuralObjectClass: inetOrgPerson
    creatorsName: cn=Manager,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com

    entryCSN: 20200729010355.226357Z#000000#000#000000
    modifyTimestamp: 20200729010355Z
    memberOf: cn=DMS_Group,ou=Groups,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com
    modifiersName: cn=Manager,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com
    entryDN: uid=dms.user,ou=dms,ou=People,dc=ps,dc=my,dc=com
    subschemaSubentry: cn=Subschema
    hasSubordinates: FALSE

    Our Network Admin (and the Cisco engineer) insist that the problem is OpenLDAP as “This works on our *MS ACTIVE DIRECTORY* lab”

    Is there any way to have the ASA query for these operational attributes? We cannot be the only entity that needs to assign users to access policies from LDAP…

    Post a Reply
  19. Is the ldap-login-password the password that was created with the ServiceAccount?

    Post a Reply
  20. Hi PeteLong,

    This is excellent Doc and Would wish your Blogs will be on top!

    Aside this I have a query that What else if we have two or more VPN-Profiles and wish to connect specific group to specific profile only?

    Thank you in Advance!

    Post a Reply
    • Yes, I’d use Dynamic Access Policies for that, then members of different groups get different Cisco ASA group-policies.

      Post a Reply
  21. Hello Pete. I love your guides. Do you have a guide for Dynamic Access Policy in relation to Radius? We manage an ASA for a company and their DAP is locking us out. They use LDAP whereas we use radius and where are having issues attempting to find what would be used for the = or != Attribute ID in the drop down where you choose from radius or LDAP. We examined debugs hoping to gleam some information but are not having much luck. Any info with this issue would be most helpful. Thank you for your awesome blogs.

    Post a Reply
    • I’ve never really mixed Radius and DAP, I suspect strange things would happen πŸ™‚ But I’ll approve the comment, and see if anyone has any thoughts.


      Post a Reply
  22. Thanks Pete!! This is an excellent guide!! I was having the hardest time with LDAP Mapping and then I found your page and this article and now everything is much more clear. Thanks again!!

    Post a Reply
  23. Hi Pete,
    Thanks a lot for posting such great articles.

    I have a query related to fallback – if LDAP servers fail and LOCAL auth is used for fallback – is there a way that the user gets notified to use LOCAL auth instead of his AD account.
    I read in a Cisco article that we can keep the username and password in LOCAL DB similar to AD so that users do not notice but in real world managing the LOCAL DB passwords to be same as AD is not going to be a good option.


    Post a Reply
    • ASFAIK: The only indication an end user will get it it takes a LOT longer, (Because they have to wait for the AAA to time out, before it falls back to LOCAL). And yes managing LOCAL and AAA accounts to be the same is cumbersome.

      Post a Reply
  24. If i have a same username in two domains, both in same AD. one user is connected to a separate tunnel but the second user is not able to connect to a separate tunnel. Why?

    Post a Reply
    • If both users have the same sAMAccountName that’s your problem.

      Post a Reply
  25. Very Good Article, but unfortunately does not work for me. I put in the various configuration steps but it always defaults to the default policy. I am also using Certificates with Certificate mapping which works but I want to use specific Group policies for LDAP Membership. Is this possible?

    Post a Reply
  26. How would we set this up for secured LDAPS requests over 636/tcp instead of unsecured plaintext LDAP over 389/tcp?

    Post a Reply
    • aaa-server LDAP (inside) host
      server-port 636
      ldap-base-dn dc=petenetlive,dc=com
      ldap-scope subtree
      ldap-naming-attribute uid
      ldap-login-password *****
      ldap-login-dn cn=pete.long,dc=petenetlive,dc=com
      ldap-over-ssl enable

      or something like that.

      You may need to import the CA certificate into the ASA, and make sure your time sync is correct as well πŸ™‚


      Post a Reply
  27. Hey Pete, how do we configure this for secured LDAPS over 636/tcp?

    Post a Reply
  28. Even in 2022 this is still a valuable article. I’m always forgetting one of the steps, so I should probably bookmark this page πŸ™‚

    Post a Reply

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