Can Google access my devices?

If I use a GMail address and password as a way to authenticate Tailscale devices, does that mean that Google can also access my devives, since Google must also know my Gmail address and password?

Basic question, I know, but I have searched extensively, and cannot find an answer.

Google could pwn your account, but to access your network they would have to pwn your account and then add a device that does the accessing (without you noticing). Google does not do that.

Umm… so if this is correct, I seem to be entitrly reliant on Google’s trustworthiness not to set up a new device on my account (since they know the user name and password) and do what they wish with all my connected devices. I don’t think I would notice immediately if a new device were added to my account. This does seems rather unsecure to me.

I think I am going to uninstall Tailscale until reliance on the likes of Google is removed.

A couple notes:

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It’s also worth pointing out that most people put all of their account recovery steps for every product they use, including all their personal information, into a single email box, often Gmail.

It’s a bit of a fallacy that, say, moving your username and password directly into Tailscale’s servers (what will we do for account recovery when people lose their passwords? recovery email? Or should our support department do account recovery on the phone based on whether you can recite your social security number or mailing address?), or into a self-hosted identity system, makes you more secure. Generally it’s better to choose an identity provider you trust and then use it for everything.

We support other identity providers such as Okta and Ping Identity if you don’t like Google in particular.

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Just because lots of people “put all of their account recovery steps for every product they use, including all their personal information, into a single email box, often Gmai” does not mean that it is a good thing to do. Popularity is not an indication of prudence. If it were, “123456” would be a good password because it is used by so many people.

I would not dream of storing sensitive information on an email server, so I am not sure why my login to an email server should effectively be the keys to my kingdom.

Tailscale could also probably access your devices. No offense to the Tailscale peeps but I suspect they’re a far more vulnerable target than Google.

If you can’t trust anyone, a self-hosted wireguard would be far more applicable. Especially because you’re also trusting that Tailscale’s https relays\clients\auth servers have no back doors.

Gavin is right, that’s the fundamental tradeoff. You’re trusting Tailscale, and your selected identity provider, to do the jobs we promise to do. If you don’t trust us and can’t find a way to do so, it’s better to look elsewhere.

In the not-so-distant future, we’ll be adding a new “lockdown” mode that accepts nodes into your network only if they have been cryptographically confirmed by other nodes. That reduces some of the avenues for attack, even if your identity provider is compromised. But even that may not provide the level of paranoia you’re looking for, which might be attainable only with a fully open source software stack whose code you have audited yourself.

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We have good chunk of SSO investment in Okta and I would assume others do too. Please make it as straight forward as possible without having to trouble the support team. I have been testing Tailscale for the last couple of weeks and I want this PoC of ours to succeed.
I find that Tailscale is many things. Of interest to us are:

  • It is super light-weight
  • Makes setting up/configuring a secure tunnel (our use case is employees can be anywhere in our timezone - office/cafe/home/library/beach) super straight-forward compared to IPsec/Ovpn/Plain-Old-Wireguard…
  • We want to use the exit node - as many as required, hosted as EC2 on AWS.
  • Latency is really amazing, thanks in part (for the most part) to Wireguard.

Few things stood out which is preventing me from rolling it out in general:

  • First class, no-brainer Okta integration
  • Employees using the same gmail address of the organisation? This means automagic join to the Tailscale network - we would like to prevent that.

Again, many thanks Tailscale folks!

I expect to add a self-service function to switch to Okta / Onelogin / etc at some point. We have not done so yet because sometimes, mistakes are made in the setup (for example in the OIDC redirect_uri) and the new authentication doesn’t immediately work.

When we handle it in Support we can switch back to the original authenticator and work with the user to get corrected parameters. In a self-service function it would all have to be automated, maybe switch back if the first login doesn’t succeed within N minutes or something. We don’t want users locked out of their Tailnet.

  • First class, no-brainer Okta integration

The next Okta-related feature I’d expect is SCIM integration for automatic
group synchronization and automatically disabling users on update from Okta

  • Employees using the same gmail address of the organisation? This means
    automagic join to the Tailscale network - we would like to prevent that.

At least at present, a given Tailnet only has one source of truth for identity.
If the Tailnet is set to use Okta to login, a Google login will be declined.

…without having to trouble the support team…

If I could just say: it isn’t troubling us, it is literally our job to support use of the service.

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Thanks @DGentry. Those are all amazing! We would love to get the fully tested and working Okta integration in as soon as possible (hopefully, soon! :slight_smile:) so I could hand off the Okta bits to our relevent engineers that manages SSO/2FA stuffs.

As for the Google to Okta transition, that’d work perfect for us - Okta doing SSO/2FA and becoming the source of truth which is what we have for almost all other applications in our org.

Thanks for the kind words. We will surely be pestering the Tailscale team if all goes well :+1:

Until there is a self-serve process, setting up Okta means following these steps and submitting the relevant parameters via the form in step 6: Setting up Okta to work with Tailscale · Tailscale

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Ack. Will do so @DGentry

Just to add one clarification about the way users logging into tailscale automatically puts them in your tailnet: a workaround for now is to set your ACLs with a fixed list of users who have access. Then if any other users manage to log in, they don’t have access to anything so it’s harmless.

Because all your active users will have the same permissions or none, this doesn’t trigger the per-user ACL pricing (thus is included in the Team plan without extra costs).


Another option to consider is handling it in the identity provider; in the one we use at my employer, we have internal group memberships which are required in order for the identity provider to authorize a login to a particular service. This avoids the problem of all ~20K employees being able to login to every service.

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Good point! Not every IdP can do this, but at least Okta can.

I honestly do not think that being wary of what information miner Google is up to coule be considered “paranoia”. The fundamental nature of Google’s business is to extract as much information as possible from any source available to them. Google droped the idea of “Don’t Be Evil” many years ago now.

I think that Google make it reasonably clear that they machine-read GMail messages and use their content to target cross-site advertising. Therefore, it seems to me that using a GMail account as a way of “securing” anything is a fundamentally flawed idea.

Yes, this is looking much more reasonable! I have an extremely busy few weeks ahead but I will certaily look into this once I have a bit of time!

Yep no worries. It has been a good experience thus far with Tailscale. :+1: