Runtime configuration for ForgeRock Identity Microservices using Consul

The ForgeRock Identity Microservices are able to read all runtime configuration from environment variables. These could be statically provided as hard coded key-value pairs in a Kubernetes manifest or shell script, but a better solution is to manage the configuration in a centralized configuration store such as Hashicorp Consul.

Managing configuration outside the code as such has been routinely adopted as a practice by modern service providers such as Google, Azure and AWS and business that use both cloud as well as on-premise software.

In this post, I shall walk you through how Consul can be used to set configuration values, envconsul can be used to read these key-values from different namespaces and supply them as environment variables to a subprocess. Envconsul can even be used to trigger automatic restarts on configuration changes without any modifications needed to the ForgeRock Identity Microservices.

Perhaps even more significantly, this post shows how it is possible to use Docker to layer on top of a base microservice docker image from the Forgerock Bintray repo and then use a pre-built go binary for envconsul to spawn the microservice as a subprocess.

This github.com repo has all the docker and kubernetes artifacts needed to run this integration. I used a single cluster minikube setup.

Consul

Starting a Pod in Minikube

We must start with setting up consul as a docker container and this is just a simple docker pull consul followed by a kubectl create -f kube-consul.yaml that sets up a pod running consul in our minikube environment. Consul creates a volume called /consul/data on to which you can store configuration key-value pairs in JSON format that could be directly imported using consul kv import @file.json. consul kv export > file.json can be used to export all stored configuration separated into JSON blobs by namespace.

The consul commands can be run from inside the Consul container by starting  a shell in it using docker exec -ti <consul-container-name> /bin/sh

Configuration setup using Key Value pairs

The namespaces for each microservice are defined either manually in the UI or via REST calls such as:
consul kv put my-app/my-key may-value

 

Expanding the ms-authn namespace yields the following screen:

A sample configuration set for all three microservices is available in the github.com repo for this integration here. Use consul kv import @consul-export.json to import them into your consul server.

Docker Builds

Base Builds

First, I built base images for each of the ForgeRock Identity microservices without using an ENTRYPOINT instruction. These images are built using the openjdk:8-jre-alpine base image which are the smallest alpine-based openjdk image one can possibly find. The openjdk7 and openjdk9 images are larger. Alpine itself is a great choice for a minimalistic docker base image and provides packaging capabilities using apk. It is a great choice for a base image especially if these are to be layered on top of like in this demonstration.

An example for the Authentication microservice is:
FROM openjdk:8-jre-alpine
WORKDIR /opt/authn-microservice
ADD . /opt/authn-microservice
EXPOSE 8080

The command docker build -t authn:BASE-ONLY builds the base image but does not start the authentication listener since no CMD or ENTRYPOINT instruction was specified in the Dockerfile.

The graphic below shows the layers the microservices docker build added on top of the openjdk:8-jre-alpine base image:

Next, we need to define a launcher script that uses a pre-built envconsul go binary to setup communication with the Consul server and use the key-value namespace for the authentication microservice.

/usr/bin/envconsul -log-level debug -consul=192.168.99.100:31100 -pristine -prefix=ms-authn /bin/sh -c "$SERVICE_HOME"/bin/docker-entrypoint.sh

A lot just happened there!

We instructed the launcher script to start envconsul with an address for the Consul server and nodePort defined in the kube-consul.yaml previously. The switch -pristine tells envconsul to not merge extant environment variables with the ones read from the Consul server. The -prefix switch identifies the application namespace we want to retrieve configuration for and the shell spawns a new process for the docker-entrypoint.sh script which is an ENTRYPOINT instruction for the authentication microservice tagged as 1.0.0-SNAPSHOT. Note that this is not used in our demonstration, but instead we built a BASE-ONLY tagged image and layer the envconsul binary and launcher script (shown next) on top of it. The -c switch enables tracking of changes to configuration values in Consul and if detected the subprocess is restarted automatically!

Envconsul Build

With the envconsul.sh script ready as shown above, it is time to build a new image using the base-only tagged microservice image in the FROM instruction as shown below:

FROM forgerock-docker-public.bintray.io/microservice/authn:BASE-ONLY
MAINTAINER Javed Shah <javed.shah@forgerock.com>
COPY envconsul /usr/bin/
ADD envconsul.sh /usr/bin/envconsul.sh
RUN chmod +x /usr/bin/envconsul.sh
ENTRYPOINT ["/usr/bin/envconsul.sh"]

This Dockerfile includes the COPY instruction to add our pre-built envconsul go-binary that can run standalone to our new image and also adds the envconsul.sh script shown above to the /usr/bin/ directory. It also sets the +x permission on the script and makes it the ENTRYPOINT for the container.

At this time we used the docker build -t authn:ENVCONSUL . command to tag the new image correctly. This is available at the ForgeRock Bintray docker repo as well.

This graphic shows the layers we just added using our Dockerfile instruction set above to the new ENVCONSUL tagged image:

These two images are available for use as needed by the github.com repo.

Kubernetes Manifest

It is a matter of pulling down the correctly tagged image and specifying one key item, the hostAliases instruction to point to the OpenAM server running on the host. This server could be anywhere, just update the hostAliases accordingly. Manifests for the three microservices are available in the github.com repo.

Start the pod with kubectl create -f kube-authn-envconsul.yaml will cause the following things to happen, as seen in the logs using kubectl logs ms-authn-env.

This shows that envonsul started up with the address of the Consul server. We deliberately used the older -consul flag for more “haptic” feedback from the pod if you will. Now that envconsul started up, it will immediately reach out to the Consul server unless a Consul agent was provided in the startup configuration. It will fetch the key-value pairs for the namespace ms-authn and make them available as environment variables to the child process!

The configuration has been received from the server and at this time envconsul is ready to spawn the child process with these key-value pairs available as environment variables:

The Authentication microservice is able to startup and read its configuration from the environment provided to it by envconsul.

Change Detection

Lets change a value in the Consul UI for one of our keys, CLIENT_CREDENTIALS_STORE from json to ldap:

This change is immediately detected by envconsul in all running pods:

envconsul then wastes no time in restarting the subprocess microservice:

Pretty cool way to maintain a 12-factor app!

Tests

A quick test for the OAuth2 client credential grant reveals our endeavor has been successful. We receive a bearer access token from the newly started authn-microservice.

The token validation and token exchange microservices were also spun up using the procedures defined above.

Here is an example of validating a stateful access_token generated using the Authorization Code grant flow using OpenAM:

And finally the postman call to the token-exchange service for exchanging a user’s id_token with an access token granting delegation for an “actor” whose id_token is also supplied as input is shown here:

The resulting token is:

This particular use case is described in its own blog.

Whats coming next?

Watch this space for secrets integration with Vault and envconsul!

Token Exchange and Delegation using the ForgeRock Identity Microservices

In 2017 ForgeRock introduced an Early Access program (aka beta) for the ForgeRock Identity Microservices. In summary the capabilities offered include token issuance using the OAuth2 client credentials grant, token validations of OAuth2/OIDC tokens (and even ssotokens) and token exchange based on the draft OAuth2 token exchange spec. I wrote a press release here and an introductory community blog post here.

In this article we will discuss how to implement delegation as per the OAuth2 Token Exchange  draft specification. An overview of the process is worth discussing at this point.

We basically first want to grab hold of an OAuth2 token for our client to use in an Authorization header when calling the Token Exchange service. Next, we need our Authorization Server such as ForgeRock Access Management in our example, to issue our friendly neighbors Alice and Bob their respective OIDC id_tokens. Note that Alice wants to delegate authority to Bob. While we shall show the REST calls to acquire those, the details of setting up the OAuth2 Provider will be left out. We shall however discuss the custom OIDC Claims Script for setting up the delegation framework for authenticated users, as well as the Policy that sets up allowed actors who may be chosen for delegation.

But first things first, so we start with acquiring a bearer authentication token for our client who will make calls into the Token Exchange service. This can be accomplished by having the Authentication microservice issue an OAuth2 access token with the exchange scope using the client-credentials grant_type. For the example we shall just use a JSON backend as our client repository, although the Authentication microservice supports using Cassandra, MongoDB, any LDAP v3 directory including ForgeRock Directory Services.

The repository holds the following data for the client:

{
 "clientId" : "client",
 "clientSecret" : "client",
 "scopes" : [ "exchange", "introspect" ],
 "attributes" : {}
 }

The authentication request is:

POST /service/access_token?grant_type=client_credentials HTTP/1.1
Host: localhost:18080
Content-Type: multipart/form-data
Authorization: Basic ****
Cache-Control: no-cache

After client authenticates, the Authentication microservice issues a token that when decoded looks like this:

{
 "sub": "client",
 "scp": [
     "exchange",
     "introspect"
 ],
 "auditTrackingId": "237cf708-1bde-4800-9bcd-5db5b5f1ca12",
 "iss": "https://fr.tokenissuer.example.com",
 "tokenName": "access_token",
 "token_type": "Bearer",
 "authGrantId": "a55f2bad-cda5-459e-8620-3e826bad9095",
 "aud": "client",
 "nbf": 1523058711,
 "scope": [
     "exchange",
     "introspect"
 ],
 "auth_time": 1523058711,
 "exp": 1523062311,
 "iat": 1523058711,
 "expires_in": 3600,
 "jti": "39b72a84-112d-46f3-a7cb-84ce7513e5bc",
 "cid": "client"
}

Bob, the actor, authenticates with AM and receives id_token:

{
 "at_hash": "Hgjw0D49EfYM6dmB9_K6kg",
 "sub": "user.1",
 "auditTrackingId": "079fda18-c96f-4c78-90f2-fc9be0545b32-111930",
 "iss": "http://localhost:8080/openam/oauth2",
 "tokenName": "id_token",
 "aud": "oidcclient",
 "azp": "oidcclient",
 "auth_time": 1523058714,
 "realm": "/",
 "may_act": {},
 "exp": 1523062314,
 "tokenType": "JWTToken",
 "iat": 1523058714
}

Alice, the user also authenticates with AM and receives a special id_token:

{
 "at_hash": "nT_tDxXhcee7zZHdwladcQ",
 "sub": "user.0",
 "auditTrackingId": "079fda18-c96f-4c78-90f2-fc9be0545b32-111989",
 "iss": "http://localhost:8080/openam/oauth2",
 "tokenName": "id_token",
 "aud": "myuserclient1",
 "azp": "myuserclient1",
 "auth_time": 1523058716,
 "realm": "/",
 "may_act": {
     "sub": "Bob"
 },
 "exp": 1523062316,
 "tokenType": "JWTToken",
 "iat": 1523058716
}

Why does Alice receive a may_act claim but Bob does not? This has to do with Alice’s group membership in DS. The OIDC Claims script attached to the OAuth2 Provider in AM checks for membership to this group, and if found retrieves a value for the assigned “actor” or delegate. In this case Alice’s has designed actor status to Bob (via some out of band method, such as on a user portal, for example). The script retrieves the actor and sets a special claim with its value: may_act. The claims script is shown here in part:

def isAdmin = identity.getMemberships(IdType.GROUP)
.inject(false) { found, group ->
found ||
group.getName() == “policyEval”
}

//…search for actor.. not shown

def mayact = [:]
if (isAdmin) {
mayact.put(“sub”,actor)
}

Next, we must define a Policy in AM. This policy could be based on OAuth2 scopes or URI, whatever you choose. I chose to setup an OAuth2 Scopes policy but whatever scope you choose must match the resource you pass into the TE service. Rest of the policy is pretty standard, for example, here is a summary of the Subject tab of the policy:

{
  "type": "JwtClaim",
  "claimName": "iss",
  "claimValue": "http://localhost:8080/openam/oauth2"
}

I am checking for an acceptable issuer, and thats it. This could be replaced with a subject condition for Authenticated users as well although the client would then have to send in Alice’s “ssotoken” as the subject_token instead of her id_token when invoking the TE service.

This also implies that delegation is “limited” to the case where you are using a JWT for Alice, preferably an OIDC id_token. We cannot do delegation without a JWT because the TE depends on the presence of a “may_act” claim in Alice’s subject_token. When using only an ssotoken or an access_token for Alice we cannot pass in this claim to the TE service. Hopefully thats clear as mud now (laughter).

Anyway.. back to the policy setup in AM. Keep in mind that the TE service expects certain response attributes: “aud” and “scp” are mandatory. “allowedActors” is optional but needed for our discussion of course. It contains a list of allowed actors and this list could be computed based on who the subject is. One subject attribute must also be returned. A simple example of response attributes could be:

aud: images.example.com
scp: read,write
allowedActors: Bob
allowedActors: HelpDeskAdministrator
allowedActors: James

The subject must also be returned from the policy and one way to do that is to parse the id_token and return the sub claim as a response attribute. A scripted policy condition attached to the Policy Environment extracts the sub claim and returns it in the response.

This policy script is attached as an environment condition as follows:

The extracted sub claim is then included as a response attribute.

At this point we are ready to setup the Token Exchange microservice to invoke the Policy REST endpoint in AM for resource-match, allowed actions and subject evaluation. Keep in mind that the TE service supports pluggable policy backends – a really powerful feature – using which one could have specific “pods” of microservices running local JSON-backed policies, other “pods” could have Open Policy Agent (OPA)-powered regex policies and yet another set of “pods” could have the TE service calling out to AM’s policy engine for evaluation.

The setup for when the TE is configured for using AM as the token exchange policy backend  looks like this:

{
 // Credentials for an OpenAM "subject" account with permission to access the OpenAM policy endpoint
 "authSubjectId" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_AUTH_SUBJECT_ID|service-account}",
 "authSubjectPassword" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_AUTH_SUBJECT_PASSWORD|****}",

// URL for the OpenAM authentication endpoint, without query parameters
 "authUrl" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_AUTH_URL|http://localhost:8080/openam/json/authenticate}",

// URL for the OpenAM policy-endpoint, without query parameters
 "policyUrl" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_URL|http://localhost:8080/openam/json/realms/root/policies}",

// OpenAM Policy-Set ID
 "policySetId" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_SET_ID|resource_policies}",

// OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attribute field-name containing "audience" values
 "audienceAttribute" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_AUDIENCE_ATTR|aud}",

// OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attribute field-name containing "scope" values
 "scopeAttribute" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_SCOPE_ATTR|scp}",

// OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attribute field-name containing the token's "subject" value
 "subjectAttribute" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_SUBJECT_ATTR|uid}",

// OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attribute field-name containing the allowedActors
 "allowedActorsAttribute" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_ALLOWED_ACTORS_ATTR|may_act}",

// (optional) OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attribute field-name containing "expires-in-seconds" values
 "expiresInSecondsAttribute" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_EXPIRES_IN_SEC_ATTR|}",

// Set to "true" to copy additional OpenAM policy-endpoint response-attributes into generated token claims
 "copyAdditionalAttributes" : "&{EXCHANGE_OPENAM_POLICY_COPY_ADDITIONAL_ATTR|true}"
}

The TE services checks the response attributes shown above in the policy evaluation result in order to setup claims in the signed JWT it returns to the client.

The body of a sample REST Policy call from the TE service to an OAuth2 scope policy defined in AM looks like as follows:

{
 "subject" : {
     "jwt" : "{{AM_ALICE_ID_TOKEN}}"
 },
 "application" : "resource_policies",
 "resources" : [ "delegate-scope" ]
}

Policy response returned to the TE service:

[
 {
 "resource": "delegate-scope",
 "actions": {
     "GRANT": true
 },
 "attributes": {
     "aud": [
         "images.example.com"
     ],
     "scp": [
         "read"
     ],
     "uid": [
         "Alice"
     ],
     "allowedActors": [
          "Bob"
     ]
 },
 "advices": {},
 "ttl": 9223372036854775807
 }
]

Again, whatever resource type you choose for the policy in AM, it must match the resource you pass into the TE service as shown above.

We have come far and if you are still with me, then it is time to invoke the TE service and get back a signed and exchanged JWT with the correct “act” claim to indicate delegation was successful. The decoded JWT claims set of the issued token is shown below. The new JWT is issued by the Token Exchange service and intended for consumption by a system entity known by the logical name “images.example.com” any time before its expiration. The subject “sub” of the JWT is the same as the subject of the subject_token used to make the request.

{
 "sub": "Alice",
 "aud": "images.example.com",
 "scp": [
     "read",
     "write"
 ],
 "act": {
     "sub": "Bob"
 },
 "iss": "https://fr.tokenexchange.example.com",
 "exp": 1523087727,
 "iat": 1523084127
}

The decoded claims set shows that the actor “act” of the JWT is the same as the subject of the “actor_token” used to make the request. This indicates delegation and identifies Bob as the current actor to whom authority has been delegated to act on behalf of Alice.

The OAuth2 ForgeRock Identity Microservices

ForgeRock Identity Microservices

ForgeRock released in Q4 2017, an Early Access (aka beta) program for three key Identity Microservices within a compact, single-purpose code set for consumer-scale deployments. For companies who are deploying stateless Microservices architectures, these microservices offer a micro-gateway enabled solution that enables service trust, policy-enforced identity propagation and even OAuth2-based delegation. The stateless architecture of FR Identity Microservices allows for implementing a sidecar-friendly microgateway deployment pattern.

I blogged about it here. The sign up form is here.

The Microservices

OAuth2 Token Issuance

Enables service to service authentication using client-credential grant type. These “bearer” tokens facilitate trust up and down the call chain.

We currently support RSA, EC, and HMAC signing, with the following algorithms:

  • HS256
  • HS384
  • HS512
  • RS256
  • ES256
  • ES384
  • ES512

Token Validation

Supports introspection of OAuth2 / OIDC tokens issued by an OAuth2 AS as well as native AM tokens. Token validations performed using either configured keys, or lookup via JWK URI for issuer and kid verification.

One or more Token Introspection API implementations can be configured by setting the value to a comma-separated list of implementation names. Each implementation is given a chance to handle the token, in given order, until an implementation successfully handles the token. An error response occurs if no implementation successfully introspects a given token.

The following implementations are provided:

  • json : Configured by a JSON file.
  • openam : Proxies introspect calls to ForgeRock Access Management.

Token Exchange

Supports exchanging stateless OAuth2 access tokens and native AM tokens for hybrid tokens that grant specific entitlements per resourceor audience requested. Implements the draft OAuth2 token-exchange specification. Offers no-fuss declarative (“local”) policy enforcement inside the pod without needing to “call home” for identity data. Also provides policy based entitlement decisions by calling out to ForgeRock Access Management.

The Token-Exchange Policy is a pluggable service which determines whether or not a given token exchange may proceed. The service also determines what audience, scope, and so forth the generated token will have. The following implementations are provided:

  • json (default) : Configured by a JSON file.
  • jwt : Simply returns a JWT for any token that can be introspected.
  • openam : Uses a ForgeRock Access Management Policy Set.

Cloud and Platform

Docker and Kubernetes

Dockerfile is bundled with the binary. Soon there will be a docker repository from where the images could be pulled by evaluators.

A Kubernetes manifest is also provided that demonstrates using environment variables to configure a simple demo instance.

Metrics and Prometheus Integration

The microservices are instrumented to publish basic request metrics and a Prometheus endpoint is also provided, which is convenient for monitoring published metrics.

Audit Tracking

Each incoming HTTP request is assigned a transaction ID, for audit logging purposes, which by default is a UUID. ForgeRock Microservices like other products support propagation of a transaction ID between point-to-point service calls.

Cloud Foundry

The standard binary in Zip format is also directly deploy-able to Cloud Foundry, and will get recognized by the Cloud Foundry Java build pack as a “dist zip” format.

Client Credential Repository

ForgeRock Identity Microservices support Cassandra, MongoDB, any LDAP v3 including ForgeRock Directory Services.

Step up authentication OpenID Connect

A common use case in access management is step up authentication. ForgeRock AM is very good for that. The OIDC standard talks about step up authentication and level of authentication requested by the client.

To do so, one could use acr_values which is a voluntary claim, but the openid specification says : «  the Authorization Server is not required to provide this Claim in its response. »
In order to achieve that, the essential claim acr is used, it is describe in chapter 5.5.1.1. Requesting the “acr” Claim of the OpenID Core (see: http://openid.net/specs/openid-connect-core-1_0.html#acrSemantics)

In order to demonstrate the functionality, use the following example based on AM 5.1:

In the AM console, browse to Realms >Realm Name>Services, and then click OAuth2 Provider.
Configure the mapping between acr values (in the example 1=ldapService and 2=HOTP chain) in the authorization request and AM authentication chains.

 

OAuth 2 Provider service configuration

HOTP chain contains HOTP module only

Step 1:
The url decoded value of the claims parameter:

{
    “id_token”: 
        {
            “acr”:
                {    
                    “essential”: true, 
                    “values”:[“1”]
                }
        }
}

Click on the URL
http://openam.example.com:8080/openam/oauth2/authorize?response_type=code&scope=openid%20profile&client_id=myClientID&redirect_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fopenam.example.com%3A8080%2Fopenid%2Fcb-basic.html&claims=%7B%22id_token%22%3A%20%7B%22acr%22%3A%7B%22essential%22%3A%20true%2C%20%22values%22%3A%5B%221%22%5D%7D%7D%7D

The user enters the login / password

The id tokens returns acr=1

Step 2:

The url decoded value of the claims parameter:
{
    “id_token”: 
        {
            “acr”:
                {    
                    “essential”: true, 
                    “values”:[“2”]
                }
        }
}

Click on the URL:
http://openam.example.com:8080/openam/oauth2/authorize?response_type=code&scope=openid%20profile&client_id=myClientID&redirect_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fopenam.example.com%3A8080%2Fopenid%2Fcb-basic.html&claims=%7B%22id_token%22%3A%20%7B%22acr%22%3A%7B%22essential%22%3A%20true%2C%20%22values%22%3A%5B%222%22%5D%7D%7D%7D

The user receives OTP and enters the OTP in the login screen.

The id tokens returns acr=2

Note that this is a real step up authentication, the session is alive from step 1 to step 2, the OTP is sent to the user connected at the first step.

 

Top 5 Digital Identity Predictions for 2017

2016 is drawing to an end, the goose is getting fat, the lights and decorations are adorning many a fire place and other such cold weather cliches.  However, the attention must turn back to identity management and what the future may or may not hold.

Digital identity or consumer based identity and access management (CIAM) has taken a few big steps forward in the last 2 years.  Numerous industry analysts, aka Gartner, Forrester and Kuppinger Cole, have carved out CIAM as a new sub topic of IAM, that requires its own market and vendor analysis.  I think this is a valuable process, as CIAM projects tend to have very different requirements and implementation steps to traditional internal or employee based IAM.

From a predictions perspective, I see the following top 5 topics becoming key components of any digital identity platform for the next 12-18 months.


1 - Device Pairing Becomes a Base Requirement for IoT


Everyone knows about IoT.  It's going to save the planet.  Increase personalisation. Create loads of data and bring most CISO and network security managers to their knees.  Other than that, "smart devices", aka devices that can talk at least HTTP (hopefully HTTPS) will be much more powerful and useful, when tied and paired to a physical personal identity.  The classic "pin and pair" style use case. Take for example a smart-TV or a healthcare wearable.  By tying the device to an individual, the device can not only access cloud services and API's on the owners behalf, but can then in turn receive information to make the user experience more personalised.

A simple way to achieve this is via a draft IETF standard that leverages the popular authorization protocol OAuth2.  This allows the device to receive a scoped OAuth2 access token that can be used to represent the real person to other services.  More importantly the token can be revoked just like any other OAuth2 access token when the the device is sold or lost.


2 - OAuth2 Token Protection Becomes Mainstream


So what does this mean?  OAuth2 and OpenId Connect are the now defacto method for application owners to integrate 3rd party authorization, identity assertions and other authX style use cases. 
OAuth2 generates an access_token and refresh_token pair that are used to gain access to profile data or API's for example.  OpenId Connect extends this concept slightly, by also issuing an id_token that can basically act like a SAML2 identity assertion.

However...the access tokens, are bearer tokens.  What does that mean? Well if you are in possession of the token, you basically have access.  Assuming the token is valid of course.  This opens up the possibility that tokens can be stolen (thinking insecure communications channels, MITM, man-in-the-middle) and then reused maliciously.  The resource servers, by design only really check that the access token is valid and has the correct scopes/permissions - they don't check that the person, application or device that is presenting the token is the correct owner of the token.  Bad times.

Another draft IETF standard focuses on generating tokens that basically can't be reused if stolen. Each issued token contains a little piece of the requester - aka their public key.  This allows the resource server to extract the public key from the access token and generate a challenge response dance with the requester, to see if they are in fact the correct holder of the corresponding private key pair.  If they are, great, access granted.  If not, well access is not granted as they are not the original token owner.

3 - Social Signup Default


Social signup and sign in (aka Sign in with Facebook..) is so omnipresent in the applications and consumer services world, that enterprise service providers, be it in the public sector deliverying government services or the private sector deliverying banking, insurance or retail services, can not ignore the end user benefits it can bring.

Not only does it speed it the user registration process, it also reduces the over head for the service provider, in that they no longer need to handle password storage.  The user is authenticating with a 3rd party, so it allows the service provider to out source the password storage to Google, Facebook, Microsoft or whomever.

The flip side of using a 3rd party, is that you have to trust their vetting, registration and data storage capabilities.  Social networks are notorious for the having fake accounts, or accounts that no longer map into the correct owner.  If you are a service provider leveraging social sign in, your applications and data assurance standards need to align and add extra levels of assurance or verification as necessary.


4 - Push Authentication Default


What is push authentication? I thought one-time-passwords (OTP) were going to save the world? Well OTP's are certainly not going away any time soon, but many consumer facing sites and indeed social networks, are now introducing push authentication.  This basically occurs via a mobile app that creates notifications during login time.  The device and app and previously registered to the user.  During login time, the end user performs a simple action (generally a finger-print scan or a swipe) to confirm they are the user logging in.  Push is certainly becoming the standard mechanism amongst the under 30's and no doubt will replace OTP for enterprise multi-factor-authentication soon.


5 - Stateless Tokens & Micro-services a Match Made in Heaven


Microservice architectures seem to be everywhere.  Out with monolithic apps that often have long delivery cycles and lots of fragility and in with tiny, often single function applications, that are loosely coupled, that can be delivered and updated continuously.

However, that then introduces new challenges and requirements surrounding authentication and authorization in a microservices world. Here, OAuth2 again tends to come to the rescue, as many microservice or single function systems, are generally just exposed API's, sitting behind a routing and throttling mechanism.  Add in to that mix the ability to have stateless access tokens (that is, an access token that is a JSON Web Token, that carries all of the access, validity and permissions data with it in one place) and you can start to support multi-million transaction style infrastructures.

Microservice infrastructures tend to get hit hard.  Very hard.  Multi-million requests per day, performing GET's to retrieve data, or POST's to update, with each transaction perhaps hitting 10, 20 or 100 tiny independent services.  By being to pass down an access token within an HTTP authorization header is powerful and flexible and couple with that a token that is stateless provides the necessary scaling back bone.  

But why is stateless so interesting here? A stateless access token allows local introspection before access is given. That allows a microservice API to verify and look inside the presented JWT (which will appear in the Authorization header) without making a call back to the authorization service that issued the token. This reduction in hops can be pretty useful in high volume ecosystems - albeit the microservice will need the public key of the authorization service to verify the tokens and some extra code to verify and then introspect attributes like the exp, aud, scopes etc.

Interesting to see where we are come this time 2017...

Top 5 Digital Identity Predictions for 2017

2016 is drawing to an end, the goose is getting fat, the lights and decorations are adorning many a fire place and other such cold weather cliches.  However, the attention must turn back to identity management and what the future may or may not hold. Digital identity or consumer based identity and access management (CIAM) has taken a few big […]

Top 5 Digital Identity Predictions for 2017

2016 is drawing to an end, the goose is getting fat, the lights and decorations are adorning many a fire place and other such cold weather cliches.  However, the attention must turn back to identity management and what the future may or may not hold.

Digital identity or consumer based identity and access management (CIAM) has taken a few big steps forward in the last 2 years.  Numerous industry analysts, aka Gartner, Forrester and Kuppinger Cole, have carved out CIAM as a new sub topic of IAM, that requires its own market and vendor analysis.  I think this is a valuable process, as CIAM projects tend to have very different requirements and implementation steps to traditional internal or employee based IAM.

From a predictions perspective, I see the following top 5 topics becoming key components of any digital identity platform for the next 12-18 months.


1 - Device Pairing Becomes a Base Requirement for IoT


Everyone knows about IoT.  It's going to save the planet.  Increase personalisation. Create loads of data and bring most CISO and network security managers to their knees.  Other than that, "smart devices", aka devices that can talk at least HTTP (hopefully HTTPS) will be much more powerful and useful, when tied and paired to a physical personal identity.  The classic "pin and pair" style use case. Take for example a smart-TV or a healthcare wearable.  By tying the device to an individual, the device can not only access cloud services and API's on the owners behalf, but can then in turn receive information to make the user experience more personalised.

A simple way to achieve this is via a draft IETF standard that leverages the popular authorization protocol OAuth2.  This allows the device to receive a scoped OAuth2 access token that can be used to represent the real person to other services.  More importantly the token can be revoked just like any other OAuth2 access token when the the device is sold or lost.


2 - OAuth2 Token Protection Becomes Mainstream


So what does this mean?  OAuth2 and OpenId Connect are the now defacto method for application owners to integrate 3rd party authorization, identity assertions and other authX style use cases. 
OAuth2 generates an access_token and refresh_token pair that are used to gain access to profile data or API's for example.  OpenId Connect extends this concept slightly, by also issuing an id_token that can basically act like a SAML2 identity assertion.

However...the access tokens, are bearer tokens.  What does that mean? Well if you are in possession of the token, you basically have access.  Assuming the token is valid of course.  This opens up the possibility that tokens can be stolen (thinking insecure communications channels, MITM, man-in-the-middle) and then reused maliciously.  The resource servers, by design only really check that the access token is valid and has the correct scopes/permissions - they don't check that the person, application or device that is presenting the token is the correct owner of the token.  Bad times.

Another draft IETF standard focuses on generating tokens that basically can't be reused if stolen. Each issued token contains a little piece of the requester - aka their public key.  This allows the resource server to extract the public key from the access token and generate a challenge response dance with the requester, to see if they are in fact the correct holder of the corresponding private key pair.  If they are, great, access granted.  If not, well access is not granted as they are not the original token owner.

3 - Social Signup Default


Social signup and sign in (aka Sign in with Facebook..) is so omnipresent in the applications and consumer services world, that enterprise service providers, be it in the public sector deliverying government services or the private sector deliverying banking, insurance or retail services, can not ignore the end user benefits it can bring.

Not only does it speed it the user registration process, it also reduces the over head for the service provider, in that they no longer need to handle password storage.  The user is authenticating with a 3rd party, so it allows the service provider to out source the password storage to Google, Facebook, Microsoft or whomever.

The flip side of using a 3rd party, is that you have to trust their vetting, registration and data storage capabilities.  Social networks are notorious for the having fake accounts, or accounts that no longer map into the correct owner.  If you are a service provider leveraging social sign in, your applications and data assurance standards need to align and add extra levels of assurance or verification as necessary.


4 - Push Authentication Default


What is push authentication? I thought one-time-passwords (OTP) were going to save the world? Well OTP's are certainly not going away any time soon, but many consumer facing sites and indeed social networks, are now introducing push authentication.  This basically occurs via a mobile app that creates notifications during login time.  The device and app and previously registered to the user.  During login time, the end user performs a simple action (generally a finger-print scan or a swipe) to confirm they are the user logging in.  Push is certainly becoming the standard mechanism amongst the under 30's and no doubt will replace OTP for enterprise multi-factor-authentication soon.


5 - Stateless Tokens & Micro-services a Match Made in Heaven


Microservice architectures seem to be everywhere.  Out with monolithic apps that often have long delivery cycles and lots of fragility and in with tiny, often single function applications, that are loosely coupled, that can be delivered and updated continuously.

However, that then introduces new challenges and requirements surrounding authentication and authorization in a microservices world. Here, OAuth2 again tends to come to the rescue, as many microservice or single function systems, are generally just exposed API's, sitting behind a routing and throttling mechanism.  Add in to that mix the ability to have stateless access tokens (that is, an access token that is a JSON Web Token, that carries all of the access, validity and permissions data with it in one place) and you can start to support multi-million transaction style infrastructures.

Microservice infrastructures tend to get hit hard.  Very hard.  Multi-million requests per day, performing GET's to retrieve data, or POST's to update, with each transaction perhaps hitting 10, 20 or 100 tiny independent services.  By being to pass down an access token within an HTTP authorization header is powerful and flexible and couple with that a token that is stateless provides the necessary scaling back bone.  

But why is stateless so interesting here? A stateless access token allows local introspection before access is given. That allows a microservice API to verify and look inside the presented JWT (which will appear in the Authorization header) without making a call back to the authorization service that issued the token. This reduction in hops can be pretty useful in high volume ecosystems - albeit the microservice will need the public key of the authorization service to verify the tokens and some extra code to verify and then introspect attributes like the exp, aud, scopes etc.

Interesting to see where we are come this time 2017...

Scripted OpenID Connect Claims and Custom JWT Contents

This blog post was first published @ identityrelationshipmanagement.blogspot.co.uk, included here with permission.

OpenID Connect has been the cool cat on the JSON authorization cat walk for some time.  A powerful extension to the basic authorization flows in OAuth2, by adding in an id_token. The id_token is a JWT (JSON Web Token, pronounced ‘jot’ but you knew that) that is cryptographically signed and sometimes encrypted – depending on the contents.

The id_token is basically separate to the traditional access_token, containing details such as which authorization issued the token, when the user or entity authenticated and when the token will expire.

OpenAM has supported implementations for OpenID Connect for a while, but a more recent feature is the ability to add scripting support to the returnable claims.  Adding scripting here, is a really powerful feature.  Scripts can be either Groovy or JavaScript based, with a default Groovy script coming with OpenAM 13 out of the box.

The script is basically allowing us to creatively map scopes into attribute data, either held on the user’s identity profile, or perhaps dynamically created at run time via call outs or via applied logic.

A quick edit of the of the out of the box OIDC claims script, allows me to add a users status from their profile held in OpenDJ, into the data available to presented scopes.  I’ve used the inetuserstatus attribute simply as it’s populated by design.  By adding “status” to the scopes list on my OIDC client profile, allows it to be called and then mapped via the script.

So pretty simply I can add in what is made available from the user’s identity profile, which could include permissions attributes or group data for example.

Another neat feature (which isn’t necessarily part of the OIDC spec), is the ability to add claims data directly into the id_token – instead of making the extra hop to the user_info endpoint with the returned access_token.  This is useful for scenarios where “offline” token introspection is needed, where an application, API, device or service, wants to perform local authorization decision making, by simply using the information provided in the id_token.  This could be quite common in the IoT world.

To add the claims data into the signed JWT id_token, you need to edit the global OIDC provider settings (Configuration | Global | OAuth2 Provider).  Under this tab, use the check box “Always return claims in ID Tokens

Now, when I perform a standard request to the ../access_token endpoint, including my openid scope along with my scripted scope, I receive an id_token and access_token combination the same as normal.

 

So I can either call the ../user_info endpoint directly, with my access_token to check my scope values (including my newly added status one) or use a tool or piece of code to introspect my id_token.  The JWT.io website is a quite a cool tool to introspect the id_token by doing the decode and signing verification automatically online.  The resulting id_token introspect would look something like this:
Note the newly added “status” attribute is in the verified id_token.

Device Authorization using OAuth2 and OpenAM

This blog post was first published @ identityrelationshipmanagement.blogspot.co.uk, included here with permission.

IoT and smart device style use cases, often require the need to authorize a device to act on behalf of a user.  A common example is things like smart TV’s, home appliances or wearables, that are powerful enough to communicate over HTTPS, and will often access services and APIs on the end user’s behalf.

How can that be done securely, without sharing credentials?  Well, OAuth2 can come to the rescue. Whilst not part of the ratified standard, many of the OAuth2 IETF drafts, describe how this could be acheived using what’s known as the “Device Flow”  This flow leverages the same components of the other OAuth2 flows, with a few subtle differences.

Firstly, the device is generally not known to have a great UI, that can handle decent human interaction – such as logging in or authorizing a consent request.  So, the consenting aspect, needs to be handled on a different device, that does have standard UI capabilities.  The concept, is to have the device trigger a request, before passing the authorization process off to the end user on a different device – basically accessing a URL to “authorize and pair” the device.

 

From an OpenAM perspective, we create a standard OAuth2 (or OIDC) agent profile with the necessary client identifier and secret (or JWT config) with the necessary scope.  The device starts the process by send a POST request to /oauth2/device/code end point, with arguments such as the scope, client ID and nonce in the URL.  If the request is successful, the response is a JSON payload, with a verification URL, device_code and user_code payload.
The end user views the URL and code (or perhaps notified via email or app) and in a separate device, goes to the necessary URL to enter the code.
This triggers the standard OAuth2 consent screen – showing which scopes the device is trying to access.
Once approved, the end user dashboard in the OpenAM UI shows the authorization – which importantly can be revoked at any time by the end user to “detach” the device.

 

Once authorized, the device can then call the ../oauth2/device/token? endpoint with the necessary client credentials and device_code, to receive the access and refresh token payload – or OpenID Connect JWT token as well.

 

 

The device can then start accessing resources on the users behalf – until the user revokes the bearer token.

NB – this OAuth2 flow is only available in the nightly OpenAM 13.0 build.

DeviceEmulator code that tests the flows is available here.

Gartner Security Summit – IoT Review

This week saw the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit being held in London.  A well attended and respected summit, it brought together the great and good of the infosec world, providing attendees, with a vendor and analyst view of governance, malware, identity and firewall related security topics.



The area that caught my attention though, were the sessions on internet of things related security.

The IoT world is fast becoming the catch all bucket, for any small device that connects to the internet, but isn't a smartphone.  There are some incredibly smart innovations taking place in this space, from consumer and health monitoring, through to operational technology and smart grid and utility monitoring solutions. Tiny fit-for-purpose devices, that perform a small, repeatable task, such as gathering data and sending to a central hub or broker service.  They often have very limited hardware capacity, tiny if-at-all operating systems and very rarely contain out of the box security.

The main focus today, is generally for IoT vendors to promote interoperability - great demo's and show cases, focusing on integration or data transfer under low power or capacity constraints.

Topics such as device registration, claiming and association, data encryption or data sharing, rarely get mentioned or focused upon.

Gartner's Earl Perkins, introduced an intriguingly titled session called "Herding Cats and Securing the Internet of Things".  Earl touched up the need to have a tiered approach to IoT security, covering infrastructure, identity and data.  Whilst the devices themselves are often associated with data capture and replay, it's often the data owners - real people - who could be exposed in a data breach disaster.

Following Earl, was Trent Henry discussing how Public Key Infrastructure, the once expensive and seemingly legacy encryption approach, was having a new lease of life in the machine to machine (M2M) landscape, where username and password authentication is of limited use.  It seems logical, that the use of things like asymmetric keys (perhaps minted at manufacture time) and certificate distribution can become the defacto standard in the M2M game.

The increased popularity of things like NFC (near field communications) has opened the scope for smartphone payment technology, through the implementation of secure elements, within the phone's hardware.  Such secure elements are likely to be seen within other non-phone devices that have a requirement for the storage of credential or certificates and keys.

One of the major issues with the IoT landscape, is often associated with basic identity management, such as how devices register to a service or authoritative source and how the corresponding data owners are able to authorize and share data to trusted third parties.  Whilst the devices themselves could be simple, the data captured, is often of a high value and simple yet robust trust and privacy models need to be implemented.

Many of the newer authorization standards such as OAuth2, OpenID Connect and User Managed Access (UMA) may have a significant role to play here.

By Simon Moffatt