We've had this discussion many times already, so not sure why this is
coming up again.
On Thu, 22 Aug 2019, 17:40 Václav Muzikář, <vmuzikar(a)redhat.com> wrote:
I wanted to discuss the new Account Console which is in development and
how it handles password updates and authenticators configuration (e.g.
Currently, when a user wants to update their password [see attached A.png]
or configure authenticator [B.png] they cannot do it directly from the
Account Console. They need to be redirected back to Keycloak and perform it
there in form of Required Action [C.png, D.png] – which is technically the
login screen (it uses the same template). This also means there will be no
REST endpoints for changing passwords or managing authenticators.
IMHO this is not the best approach either for users or developers (who'll
be using Keycloak with their app). Let me explain why.
- It's not really user friendly. Redirecting from one application to
seemingly completely different application is never good and can be
confusing. I can imagine some less tech savvy users could even feel "in
danger" – one second you're securely managing your account and then you are
asked to change your password in some other application (that suspiciously
uses the same design as login screen).
I disagree - it depends on how it's done. With a SSO solution regardless
are using redirects to login so doing redirects for other account
related activities is expected.
- This approach doesn't feel seamless. You can change e.g.
email, etc. directly from the Account Console. But not password and
- It's not an industry standard. I haven't ever encountered anywhere
that I'd have to be redirected from some profile managing app to completely
different app just to change password. Again – it's confusing for the users
to do something differently than they're used to and what they expect.
Google used this approach a lot. I've also seen it elsewhere.
- Network traffic overhead. People accessing the Account Console
often use some limited and slow internet connection. Needless redirecting
back and forth and loading the application again takes data and time.
There's very little overhead here. Images and such are already cached.
- Missing REST endpoints limit developers. With a proper REST API devs
could e.g. fully integrate the Account Console functionality into their own
app (and effectively replacing the Console by their app). This also means
no CLI apps support. And I don't think REST API is less secure than
Required Actions – either way you're sending an HTTP request and how it's
secure depends on the same factors for both.
Required actions is for complex actions that would be costly and time
implement in your own apps. Some actions is not possible such
as webauthn and some actions such as password updates is not wanted as it
provides access to passwords in clear text to other applications. It also
opens up for more flexible requirements for some actions such as enter
password to update OTP. Verify email to update password. Etc.
- We're stripping out core Account Console functionality. It
always a central place to manage your account. Now it can do what? Change
your email and manage apps access? (We could as well replace it with bunch
of links to Required Actions. :P There're are already Required Actions for
changing email and name.)
I can see however one advantage of this approach. There's only one place
where users can change their passwords and authenticators – no need to
implement it second time when it's already implemented as Required Actions.
But this is actually not entirely true as e.g. password changing process
(incl. password policies etc.) is implemented in Admin Console too so there
needs to be some shared logic.
In general this approach practically benefits "only" the implementation
complexity – it's easier to do it this way and therefore less error prone.
It benefits implementation as well as custom authenticators. It's not even
possible to create a rest endpoint for everything such as web authn. It
would be very complex with custom flows and authenticators to even do a
custom account app. It increases security. Etc. Etc.
WDYT? Should we keep the current approach?
Senior Quality Engineer
Keycloak / Red Hat Single Sign-On
Red Hat Czech s.r.o.