[security-dev] Credentials API redesign

Marek Posolda mposolda at redhat.com
Thu Dec 6 06:20:41 EST 2012


I think it may be little confusing for people to have interface 
"Credential" and interface "LoginCredentials". How about using little 
different name like "LoginState" for the second one? As the main purpose 
of the LoginCredentials is to encapsulate whole login state if I 
understand it correctly (not only secret credentials).

Also I may missed some details, but does it support the use-case when 
authentication requires multiple steps (handshakes)? For those 
use-cases, it seems to be more natural to me if CredentialHandler is 
like this:

public interface CredentialHandler {
      LoginResult validate(LoginState credentials, IdentityStore store);
      void update(User user, Credential credential, IdentityStore store);

and returned LoginResult contains some additional info about state 
User if state is LOGIN_SUCCESS or wrapps other info if the state result 
was MORE_STEPS_REQUIRED. Maybe LoginState and LoginResult could be 
single interface... not sure.


On 06/12/12 03:18, Shane Bryzak wrote:
> Hey guys,
> I've completed the first round of redesigns for the credentials API
> based on the feedback provided by Darran and others.  It might require
> some minimal tweaking to address a couple of minor edge cases, however
> at this point in time I'd like to run through the basic design to see
> what you guys think.  Up front I must say that it's more complex than I
> had hoped, however after analysing all the use cases I feel that the
> complexity is a necessity for providing a truly robust, extensible API.
> To try and present this in a logical manner, I'm going to describe the
> credentials API in terms of the chronological order of events during the
> authentication process.  To start with, let's take a look at the
> LoginCredentials interface:
> public interface LoginCredentials {
>       void invalidate();
> }
> Implementations of this interface are intended to contain the state
> provided by the user in order to carry out authentication.  While the
> Credential interface is designed to represent an atomic credential value
> (such as a password, certificate, or biometric data such as a
> fingerprint), LoginCredentials is designed to encapsulate the credential
> value with additional state required by the authentication process.
> Let's take a look at an implementation supporting the most common form
> of credentials, a username and password:
> public class UsernamePasswordCredentials implements LoginCredentials {
>       private String username;
>       private PasswordCredential password;
>       public String getUsername() {
>           return username;
>       }
>       public void setUsername(String username) {
>           this.username = username;
>       }
>       public PasswordCredential getPassword() {
>           return password;
>       }
>       public void setPassword(PasswordCredential password) {
>           this.password = password;
>       }
>       @Override
>       public void invalidate() {
>           username = null;
>           password.clear();
>       }
> }
> This implementation provides the capability for setting a username
> (represented as a String) and a PasswordCredential.  Other
> implementations are free to define whichever properties they require,
> for example a CertificateCredentials class may simply contain an
> X509CertificateCredential and nothing else.
> Once the user provides their credentials, the LoginCredentials instance
> can be passed to IdentityManager via the following method:
> public interface IdentityManager {
>       User validateCredentials(LoginCredentials credentials);
> }
> To handle the actual processing of the credentials and perform whatever
> business logic is required to authenticate the user, the following SPI
> interface is used:
> public interface CredentialHandler {
>       User validate(LoginCredentials credentials, IdentityStore store);
>       void update(User user, Credential credential, IdentityStore store);
> }
> Since authentication is handled differently depending on what type of
> IdentityStore is being used, there will be many CredentialHandler
> implementations to address each use case combination.  To determine the
> correct CredentialHandler implementation to use for authentication, the
> IdentityManager calls CredentialHandlerFactory.getCredentialHandler(),
> passing in the class of the LoginCredentials parameter and the class of
> the IdentityStore parameter:
> public interface CredentialHandlerFactory {
>       CredentialHandler getCredentialHandler(Class<? extends
> LoginCredentials> credentialsClass,
>               Class<? extends IdentityStore> identityStoreClass);
> }
> This allows us to provide a separate CredentialHandler implementation
> for each combination of LoginCredentials and IdentityStore.  For
> example, for a standard username/password authentication using
> JPAIdentityStore we may have a JPAUsernamePasswordCredentialHandler that
> compares a calculated hash based on the password (and possible other
> values) against a pre-calculated hash stored in the database.  For a
> username/password authentication against LDAPIdentityStore we may have
> an LDAPUsernamePasswordCredentialHandler that performs a bind operation
> against the directory to ensure that the credentials supplied are
> valid.  As the SPI is extensible, it is also possible for developers to
> provide their own CredentialHandler implementations to suit whichever
> authentication process they require.
> If the CredentialHandler.validate() method completes successfully, it is
> expected to return a User instance to indicate that authentication was
> successful.  If authentication is unsuccessful (or possibly requires
> multiple steps) then it's up to the caller and implementation to cater
> for this, most likely by providing additional state within the
> LoginCredentials implementation.
> To sidetrack for a moment, the CredentialHandlerFactory is configured as
> part of the IdentityConfiguration which is passed to the
> IdentityManager's bootstrap method during startup:
> public class IdentityConfiguration {
>         public CredentialHandlerFactory getCredentialHandlerFactory() {
>           return credentialHandlerFactory;
>       }
>       public void setCredentialHandlerFactory(CredentialHandlerFactory
> factory) {
>           this.credentialHandlerFactory = factory;
>       }
> }
> Continuing on, the CredentialHandler is free to execute whichever
> business logic is required to authenticate the provided LoginCredentials
> value.  It has direct access to the IdentityStore instance, in which the
> previous credential management methods have been replaced with the
> following two new methods (side note - the CredentialHandler doesn't
> *have* to use these methods, it could instead possibly invoke other
> IdentityStore methods by casting the IdentityStore to the appropriate type):
> public interface IdentityStore {
>       void storeCredential(CredentialStorage storage);
>       CredentialStorage retrieveCredential(Class<? extends
> CredentialStorage> storageClass);
> }
> At present CredentialStorage is a simple SPI interface that declares a
> single method:
> public interface CredentialStorage {
>       Date getExpiryDate();
> }
> The reason that we have introduced a totally new interface here rather
> than just use the Credential interface, is that credential information
> stored by the IdentityStore is often different to the credential
> information provided by a user to authenticate.  For example, in
> username/password authentication the user provides a plain text
> password, however the data we have stored in the IdentityStore is
> typically not the password itself, but a hash value (or at least I would
> hope so).  With that in mind, the introduction of the CredentialStorage
> interface formalizes the disconnect between user-provided credential
> state and stored credential state, and in turn provides a more flexible
> design.  This is not to say that a Credential implementation can't be
> dual purpose, in fact this is fully supported thanks to
> CredentialStorage essentially being a marker interface, so
> X509CertificateCredential for example could easily implement both the
> Credential and CredentialStorage interfaces.
> To round this off with a solid example, here's what a CredentialStorage
> implementation that stores a password hash might look like:
> public class PasswordHash implements CredentialStorage {
>       private byte[] hash;
>       public void setHash(byte[] hash) {
>           this.hash = hash;
>       }
>       public byte[] getHash() {
>           return hash;
>       }
> }
> There's actually one more step here, and that's the metadata required by
> the IdentityStore to know which state of the CredentialStorage instance
> to actually store.  To enable this, we have introduced the @Stored
> annotation, which when added to the above example looks like this:
> public class PasswordHash implements CredentialStorage {
>       @Stored private byte[] hash;
>       public void setHash(byte[] hash) {
>           this.hash = hash;
>       }
>       public byte[] getHash() {
>           return hash;
>       }
> }
> Any properties annotated with @Stored must be Serializable, to allow
> storage by the IdentityStore.
> One last thing that needs to be covered is the updating of credentials.
> IdentityManager also provides this method which is used to update a
> user's credentials:
> public interface IdentityManager {
>       void updateCredential(User user, Credential credential);
> }
> Like credential validation, a CredentialHandler is looked up the same
> way and its update() method is invoked with the User, Credential and
> IdentityStore parameters.  It is up to the CredentialHandler
> implementation to create the appropriate CredentialStorage instances (or
> perform whichever other business logic that might be required) to
> persist to the backend IdentityStore.
> That pretty much covers everything.  I think this design in essences
> addresses all of the use cases discussed so far, and should be
> relatively future-proof.  Sorry again for another wall of text, but I'm
> looking forward to hearing feedback on this.  There's still quite a lot
> of work to do in this area on the implementation side of things (such as
> decoupling the existing credential validation code from the
> IdentityStore implementations and implementing it as CredentialHandlers)
> but we'll get to that once everyone has a chance to review this new design.
> Thanks,
> Shane
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