Security pillar

Security is an essential consideration for all IT systems, and especially enterprise systems with extensive use across many users or business processes. As many contemporary systems have evolved to rely on Internet-facing service-oriented architectures, the importance of a strong security posture has increased, the array of security challenges has changed dramatically, and the effort of securing a system has increased accordingly.

Well-architected systems consider security requirements and posture from the earliest phases of system design, and aim to balance strong security principles with ease of use and appropriate access to the system. ArcGIS supports these goals by building on standard IT security fundamentals, from encrypted communications to secure storage of user credentials, use of existing technologies like web servers and databases, or implementation of new security standards like SAML and OpenID Connect as they have grown in popularity. When properly designed, ArcGIS systems can be compatible with organizational security and privacy standards while still providing open access and a wide-ranging set of workflows.

This architecture pillar provides some guiding considerations related to security, across both on-premises and software-as-a-service applications and ranging from encryption and certificate considerations to integrations with modern security appliances like WAFs and identity-aware proxies. These recommendations apply to any ArcGIS system and are not exclusive to the patterns described in this site.

Note that security standards and requirements vary significantly from one organization to another. The most important security recommendations come from an organization’s own security teams, those who maintain their own systems, standards, policies, and risks more effectively than any outside provider. Consider the following concepts and their applicability to your own system, and work closely with your teams to determine how they may fit for your organization.

Security concepts in ArcGIS

Typically, the security configuration of ArcGIS Components involves the integration of Esri product features, third-party solutions, and varied implementation approaches. Key technical security mechanisms, such as user authentication and authorization, filters, encryption, logging and auditing, and hardening, are described below.


Authentication is the process used to verify credentials to confirm the identity of an application or user that is attempting to connect to a system. Once the identity is confirmed, an authorization process determines if the application or user has permission to access resources like data, maps, or apps. You can reduce the number of user credentials that a user needs to manage by configuring a single sign-on experience to secure your organization’s resources.

ArcGIS supports several centralized identity standards including the following:

  • Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
  • Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA)
  • Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)
  • OpenID Connect (OIDC)

Based on the identity store you use, authentication and authorization may require specific technology configurations to enable access for users and applications to system resources.


The process of filtering hardware and software can be used to intercept invalid or attack requests before a server can receive them. Firewalls can be used to prevent unauthorized access to private resources, or to inspect packets and accept or reject them based on defined rules based on acceptable levels of risk. Reverse proxies obscure details of the internal network and can be configured for content filtering, URL rewriting, and load balancing. The ArcGIS Web Adaptor can forward client requests to ArcGIS Enterprise machines in a site, to obscure machine and port information and filter access to ArcGIS Server Manager and Administrator Directories.


Encryption of data in transit is a standard expectation of today’s enterprise systems, and most web browsers will default to HTTPS connections to websites and SaaS applications, disallowing use of an unencrypted connection. ArcGIS is configured by default to use Transport Layer Security (TLS) for client connections to both ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online. In addition, strong encryption methods such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA) should be employed to encode data and detect whether it has been tampered with or modified. Encryption of data at rest can protect the potential of malicious access to hardware or storage systems, and ArcGIS systems can generally access encrypted storage using standard operating system protections.


The practice of auditing and analyzing system and application logs on a regular basis can provide a baseline understanding of use during routine operations. Anomalies that are identified as deviating from this baseline can help to identify and investigate security incidents, or provide information about system problems and unusual conditions. Application logs can also provide event-level details about specific security incidents and policy violations.


Hardening is the process of securely configuring a system to mitigate as many security risks as possible. Hardening involves actions such as these:

  • Implementing application-level security approaches
  • Removing unnecessary software
  • Disabling unnecessary services
  • Consulting guidelines and policies that are specific to your applications and operating system
  • Reviewing industry-standard security guidelines

Esri recently released a comprehensive Hardening Guide for ArcGIS Enterprise, which is accessible along with additional resources through the ArcGIS Trust Center.