Secure Your Installation
YouTrack is developed with security in mind. We take great care to eliminate exposures to different types of attacks. We work with third-parties who scan YouTrack for vulnerabilities and perform penetration tests. When a security issue is discovered, we strive to address the problem in the next major version or bug-fix release.
The recommendations on this page are intended to help you keep your YouTrack data secure. These best practices can help you avoid pitfalls that leave your data vulnerable to theft, damage, or loss.
Document Your Setup
Documentation is an important part of your security plan. If your YouTrack administration changes hands, the new administrator shouldn't have to learn how the application is configured through trial and error. As you follow this guide to secure your YouTrack environment, make a note of each change and explain why you set it up the way you did. When done, collect your notes and add them to your information security policy documentation.
Stay Up To Date
To ensure that your installation includes the most recent security enhancements, make sure you always use the latest version of YouTrack. To make sure you haven't missed an important update:
- Subscribe to updates on the YouTrack blog or follow YouTrack on Twitter.
- Check for updates in the Update Info section of the Global Settings page.
To prevent accidental disclosure, we usually restrict the visibility to issues that are classified as a Security Problem to members of the JetBrains team. You may see issues in the Security Problem section of our release notes, but this is by no means a comprehensive list of security-related issues that have been fixed in any given release.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that you update your installation to the latest version as soon as possible.
Create a Safe Environment
As a web-based application, registered users can connect to YouTrack from outside your network. Any server that is exposed to the Internet is vulnerable to hackers who can destroy data, encrypt data and hold it for ransom, or steal your secrets. We recommend that you install YouTrack in a trusted environment that is protected by a firewall. Your firewall rules should not allow traffic without any business justification.
Follow these guidelines to ensure the security of your installation:
- Restrict access to database files to prevent users or other processes from modifying or deleting your YouTrack data.
- Install security updates for the operating system as well as third-party software that is connected to your installation.
- Use firewall rules to whitelist only ports that are required for inbound network connections.
Secure Your Connection
To secure communication over your network, you need to install YouTrack behind a reverse proxy server that provides SSL encryption. All of your traffic is then encrypted using HTTPS (HTTP over SSL/TLS). For more information, see Reverse Proxy Configuration.
When users log in to YouTrack with an authentication modules that does not support SSL/TLS encryption (for example, the Hub authentication module), the password is transmitted in plain text. If you don't use HTTPS, a packet sniffer can intercept and log this traffic and compromise your passwords. To protect your accounts, use a reverse proxy to secure all of your connections using HTTPS (HTTP over SSL/TLS).
Use a Dedicated Service User Account
You should always use a dedicated user account to run YouTrack on your server.
- For MSI installations, YouTrack creates a dedicated service user account with the name JetBrainsYouTrack during installation. By default, this account only has access to the YouTrack installation and home directories.
If you change the user account that runs the Windows service, this account should have limited access as well. For more information, see Change the User Account that Runs the Windows Service.
- For ZIP and JAR installations, the YouTrack service is run by the user who enters the command to start the application. This should be a user account that was created specifically to run YouTrack. Limit the access rights that are available to this account at the operating system level to protect critical parts of the system. This should be a non-privileged user that only has access to the YouTrack installation and home directories.
Encrypt your Data
YouTrack stores passwords in the database as hash values. Passwords are hashed using the SHA-1 cryptographic hash function.
The YouTrack database, however, is not encrypted. To ensure that your data is secure, we recommend that you apply filesystem-level or full disc encryption to the server that runs YouTrack.
Restrict Cross-origin Requests
If you have integrations or web services that request data from outside your YouTrack domain, you can restrict access to specific origins. YouTrack supports cross-origin resource sharing, or CORS.
To protect your data from malicious attacks, create a fixed whitelist of trusted origins that are allowed access. You can manage this whitelist in the REST API section of the Global Settings page. For more information, see REST API Settings.
Use Digital Certificates
You should not only secure access to YouTrack over HTTPS, but secure the data that is exchanged between YouTrack and the web services that are connected to it. Obtain an SSL certificate for each external service and import the certificates into YouTrack.
- You should import trusted SSL certificates for any external application that is integrated with YouTrack. For more information, see SSL Certificates.
- You should also have an SSL keystore that identifies YouTrack as a client when it tries to connect to a third party. For more information, see SSL Keystores.
The following integrations can be configured to establish a secure connection using SSL:
- Import from Jira
- Mailbox Integration
- TeamCity Integration
- Upsource Integration
- VCS Integrations
- Zendesk Integration
- LDAP Authentication Module
- Atlassian Jira Auth Module
You should also use a digital certificate to secure the connection to the SMTP server that sends email notifications from YouTrack.
Use Two-factor Authentication
Most of the third-party authentication modules that you can use to manage logins in YouTrack support two-factor authentication (2FA). Some even let you require the use of 2FA by every member of your organization.
With 2FA, users must use a secondary device to generate an authentication code, which they must then enter when they log in with their password. This adds an extra layer of security. Even if a password is compromised, the malicious user cannot access the application without the authentication code from the secondary device.
When users enable 2FA, they need to enter an authentication code every time they log into YouTrack with the account that is managed in the connected service.
Enforce a Password Policy
If you're using third-party services for authentication and don't require 2FA, you can't guarantee that every user sets it up. Or uses a strong password.
Here's what you do know:
- Many users don't create unique passwords for each of their accounts.
- Most passwords are extremely weak and easy to crack.
- An attacker only has to guess one weak password to gain access to your system.
The Hub authentication module lets you ensure that users create passwords that keep your data safe. If you use this module to manage logins, we recommend that you set the Password Strength to Good or Very Strong. For more information, see Set a Password Policy.
Require Email Verification
Asking users to verify their email addresses ensures that your users confirm ownership of their accounts. This is especially important when you let users register their own accounts.
For installations that create user accounts from incoming email messages with the Mailbox Integration or tickets that are imported with the Zendesk Integration, the option to require email verification prevents users from registering accounts that can be used to gain unauthorized access to YouTrack and other applications in your business environment.
The option to require email verification is located on the General Settings page in YouTrack. For more information, see Global Settings.
The Hub authentication module lets users register their own accounts in YouTrack. If you allow self-registration and your installation is accessible from outside your network, you should protect your installation from registration bots These bots can consume resources and claim licenses that are intended for use by humans.
To block registration bots, enable reCAPTCHA in the Hub authentication module. For more information, see Hub Authentication Module.
Throttle Failed Login Attempts
Throttling or rate limitation helps protect the application from brute-force attacks. The Hub authentication module has settings that let you apply rate limits to logins and requests to verify credentials. Rate limits are applied per IP address. Rate limits help slow down brute-force attacks by blocking new login requests for a short time following a series of consecutive login failures, so they keep your passwords safe.
These rate limits are only applied to logins that are processed by the Hub authentication module. Logins from third-party authentication providers are subject to their own rate limitations.
If you use the Hub authentication module, we strongly recommend that you enable this feature. For more information, see Hub Authentication Module.
Grant Permissions with Care
All of the operations in YouTrack are managed by a permission scheme. Permissions are assigned to a collection of roles, which are then granted to users and groups for a specific project. Users only have permission to perform the operations that are allowed for the role that they are assigned in each project.
If you are overly-generous with granting permissions, you expose your system to high risk from insider threats. It also gives external hackers access to sensitive data as soon as any of your accounts is compromised.
We recommend that you follow the principle of least privilege and only grant access to the information and resources that are absolutely necessary to perform the operations that are required for each user. Start small, then go bigger — but only with good reason. Follow these guidelines to prevent unnecessary access to sensitive data:
- Grant as little access as necessary to new accounts, then add permissions if necessary.
- Revoke access when it is no longer required.
- Delete or ban unnecessary user accounts.
- Avoid the auto-join groups option if user registration is enabled in the Hub authentication module.
- Limit the permissions that are available to the Guest user account.
- Grant roles with very limited permissions to the All Users and Registered Users groups.
- Limit the number of users who are assigned roles in the Global project.
- Use as few accounts with System Admin roles as possible and monitor their activity.
Backup Your Data
To protect your installation against ransomware and recover from hardware or software failure, make sure your YouTrack database is included in your backup plan.
- Enable regular backup of your YouTrack database and set up notifications should the backup fail. For more information, see Database Backup.
- Test backups by restoring your system to make sure the process works. For more information, see Restore an Installation.
- Keep copies of recent backups off premises.
- Make sure your backups are secure and encrypted.
Secure the Default Administrator Account
You set the login and password for the default administrator account when you install YouTrack Standalone on your server. This account has permission to perform any operation in YouTrack.
One of the most common problems detected by risk and security audits is an administrator account that is not tied to a specific individual. You might be tempted to create a simple login and password combination and share the default administrator account with more than one administrator. Don't.
- Shared accounts are often used to gain uncontrolled access to systems.
- Audit events and logs are rendered useless when you cannot associate a change with a specific individual.
- Administrator accounts have unlimited access and should use the strongest possible passwords.
Follow these guidelines to secure your default administrator account:
- After initial setup, create personal user accounts for each administrator and grant them the required level of access. Administrators should use their own accounts to perform administrative tasks.
- Limit the number of accounts with administrative access rights to the users who require this level of access.
- Require that users with administrator privileges use strong passwords and change them periodically.
- Revoke administrative access as soon as it is no longer required.
- Manage ownership of the default administrator account carefully. If the user who is responsible for this account leaves your organization or is no longer responsible for the application, select another user to assume ownership and transfer this responsibility. If the previous administrator no longer requires access to YouTrack:
- Use the Merge User operation to combine these two user accounts. For more information, see Merge User Accounts.
- Remove the login credentials for the previous administrator from the merged user account.
- Create a new user account for the previous administrator and grant the appropriate level of access to the account.
- Use the Merge User operation as described above to transfer ownership of the default administrator account to the new administrator.
Browse Audit Events and Check Security Logs
YouTrack provides tools that let you monitor your application for suspicious activity.
- The Audit Events page provides a list of events, targets, and authors for every event that is logged in YouTrack. These events are recorded every time an operation is applied to a target entity that is managed by the built-in Hub service. This includes changes that are applied to users, groups, projects, roles, auth modules, services, and resources, among others. You can filter the list to search for specific types of activity or download the events as a JSON file for further investigation.
- Events that are considered to be security-related are printed to a dedicated
security.logfile. This file contains a wider range of events and target entities.
- Login events are printed to a dedicated
You can browse the audit events and security logs to detect unusual activity or for troubleshooting. However, if your organization uses security information and event management software, a much better solution is to include your YouTrack log files as a data source. These solutions let you scan and analyze aggregated log files and generate alerts when a suspicious pattern of activity is detected.
Follow these guidelines to secure your log files:
- Ensure that only individuals who have a job-related need have access to the data directory where you store your YouTrack log files.
- Create backup copies of your YouTrack log files on a centralized log server.
Limit Access to Sensitive Information
If you store sensitive information in your issues, take extra efforts to make sure this data is secure.
- Use dedicated projects to store issues that contain information that can be used to identify a person.
- Make sure the users who have access to issues in this project understand the sensitivity of this information.
- Restrict project access to the users who need to view and use this information.
- Restrict the visibility of issues and comments to the group of users who have access to the project.
For issues that contain sensitive or confidential information, don't leave anything to chance. If you rely on users to set the visibility manually, someone is bound to forget.
Use workflows to set the visibility for issues and comments according to your security scheme. You can create and attach workflows that support the following common use cases:
- Set issue visibility automatically when it is created in a project that is used to manage sensitive information.
- Change visibility when an issue is assigned a specific type or subsystem.
- Warn users who set the visibility for a comment that is different from the issue visibility.
- Block users from changing the visibility setting for an issue or comment.
For more information, see Workflows.
Restrict Anonymous Access
By default, all YouTrack installations include a dedicated user account for guests. This user is granted the default Observer role in the Global project. If your installation is accessible from outside your network, anyone who knows your server address can use the guest account to browse issues in your projects without having to log in.
If you wish to limit or block anonymous access, you have the following options:
- You can revoke the role that is assigned to the guest account in the Global project. You can then choose whether you want to grant the guest account an Observer role in the projects that you want to make available to the public. We generally discourage granting roles with update permissions to the guest account, as these actions cannot be associated with an individual.
- You can ban the guest account. All users are required to log in to view issues with a registered account. Access to issues in each project is determined by the roles that are assigned on a per-user or per-group basis.
For more information, see Manage the Guest User Account.
Protect User Privacy
If you use YouTrack in a multi-tenant environment or support customers in different projects, protect the privacy of your users with the Strict Suggestions feature. This feature filters the list of users that are suggested for auto-completion based on the permissions that are granted to the current user. This filter is applied to search queries, commands, and @mentions in issue descriptions and comments.
When enabled, your users only see the names and logins of other users who have access to the same set of projects. For more information, see Strict Suggestions.