This third and final part in my Stateless Spring Security series is about mixing previous post about JWT token based authentication with spring-social-security. This post directly builds upon it and focusses mostly on the changed parts. The idea is to substitude the username/password based login with “Login with Facebook” functionality based on OAuth 2, but still use the same token based authentication after that.
The user clicks on the “Login with Facebook” button which is a simple link to “/auth/facebook”, the SocialAuthenticationFilter notices the lack of additional query parameters and triggers a redirect leading the user of your site to Facebook. They login with their username/password and are redirected back, again to “/auth/facebook” but this time with “?code=…&state=…” parameters specified. (If the user previously logged in at facebook and had a cookie set, facebook will even instantly redirect back and no facebook screen is shown at all to the user.) The fun part is that you can follow this in a browsers network log as it’s all done using plain HTTP 302 redirects. (The “Location” header in the HTTP response is used to tell the browser where to go next)
This second part of the Stateless Spring Security series is about exploring means of authentication in a stateless way. If you missed the first part about CSRF you can find it here.
So when talking about Authentication, its all about having the client identify itself to the server in a verifiable manner. Typically this start with the server providing the client with a challenge, like a request to fill in a username / password. Today I want to focus on what happens after passing such initial (manual) challenge and how to deal with automatic re-authentication of futher HTTP requests.
Session Cookie based
The most common approach we probably all know is to use a server generated secret token (Session key) in the form of a JSESSIONID cookie. Initial setup for this is near nothing these days perhaps making you forget you have a choice to make here in the first place. Even without further using this “Session key” to store any other state “in the session”, the key itself is in fact state as well. I.e. without a shared and persistent storage of these keys, no successful authentication will survive a server reboot or requests being load balanced to another server.
Today with a RESTful architecture becoming more and more standard it might be worthwhile to spend some time rethinking your current security approaches. Within this small series of blog posts we’ll explore a few relatively new ways of solving web related security issues in a Stateless way. This first entry is about protecting your website against Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF).
Recap: What is Cross-Site Request Forgery?
CSRF attacks are based on lingering authentication cookies. After being logged in or otherwise identified as a unique visitor on a site, that site is likely to leave a cookie within the browser. Without explicitly logging out or otherwise removing this cookie, it is likely to remain valid for some time.