Solving the Authentication Handler Credential Validation Problem

Define a mechanism to allow an Authentication Handler to validate the user's identity and signal that to the ResourceResolverFactory in the authentication information.(DRAFT)

Status: DRAFT
Created: 27. September 2013
Author: fmeschbe
JIRA: Implement solution to the Authentication Handler Credential Validation Problem, AbstractSlingRepository#login violates JCR spec
References: –
Updated: –

Problem

There does not currently exist a good and transparent way for an Authentication Handler to signal to the ResourceResovlerFactory, that the identity of a user has been established and validated and that no further checks are required. For example an SSO authentication handler will get the identity of a user provided by the SSO handler or an OAuth 2 authentication handler proves the identity of the user by with the help of the OAuth 2 provider.

Proposal

A new predefined property of the AuthenticationInfo map is defined which can be set by the authentication handler to indicate that the user's identity has been verified and can be guaranteed:

public interface ResourceResolverFactory {
    ....
    /**
     * Name of the authentication information property used to indicate that the
     * identity of the user indicated by the {@link #USER} property has already
     * been validated by other means such as OAuth2, OpenID or similar SSO
     * functionality. As a consequence password-less access to a
     * {@link ResourceResolver} should be granted.
     * <p>
     * The non-empty string value of this property identifies the party having
     * validated the user's identity. It may be used by implementations of this
     * and the {@link ResourceProviderFactory} interfaces in log messages.
     * <p>
     * The type of this property, if present, is <code>String</code>.
     *
     * @since 2.4 (bundle version 2.5.0)
     */
    String IDENTIFIED = "user.identified";
    ....
}

ResourceProviderFactory services creating ResourceProvider instances by establishing connections to the actual data store will leverage this flag to implement a pre-authentication style of access.

Implementations

Authentication Handler

Implementations will just set the ResourceResolverFactory.IDENTIFIED property in the Authentication Info map to the name of the authentication handler indicating the identity has been validated.

This replaces mechanisms used today such has implementing a LoginModule service validating a custom javax.jcr.Credentials instance.

JCR Resource Provider

The JCR Resource Provider will check for the property and create a Subject used for establishing the session's owner:

if (authenticationInfo.get("user.identified") != null) {

    // pre-identified user access
    final String userName = (String) authenticationInfo.get(ResourceResolverFactory.USER);
    final String identifier = (String) authenticationInfo.get("user.identified");

    log.info("getResourceProviderInternal: Logging in user {} identified by {}", userName, identifier);
    Session tmp = null;
    try {
        tmp = session = repository.loginAdministrative(workspace);
        Authorizable auth = ((JackrabbitSession) tmp).getUserManager().getAuthorizable(userName);
        Subject s = new Subject();
        s.getPrincipals().add(auth.getPrincipal());
        session = Subject.doAs(s, new PrivilegedExceptionAction<Session>() {
            public Session run() throws Exception {
                return repository.login(workspace);
            }
        });
    } catch (PrivilegedActionException pae) {
        throw pae.getCause();
    } finally {
        if (tmp != null) {
            tmp.logout();
        }
    }
}

Considerations for creating the Subject:

Preventing Privilege Escalation

As noted above we must make sure that no casual user can retrieve a ResourceResolver adding just a user.identified property and thus escalate his own privileges.

One approach to mitigate this problem would be to leverage the ServiceUserMapper service which is also used in the context of the service authentication mechanism: a sub service name user.identified is defined and each consumer of this mechanism must have a user mapping for this subservice to the mock user *.

This way, the JCR Resource Provider sketched above would add this check:

if (authenticationInfo.get("user.identified") != null) {

    if (!"*".equals(serviceUserMapper.getServiceUserID(callingBundle, "user.identified"))) {
        log.info("Missing privilege to use pre-authenticated login");
        throw new LoginException();
    }

    ...
}

Abstract Sling Repository

The Abstract Sling Repository implementation will need to fix the "null Credentials" problem: Due to a misunderstanding the Abstract Sling Repository assumes anonymous access to the repository if the Credentials to the login method is null or missing. While this has been implemented like this in Jackrabbit it is actually not foreseen by the specification. Rather missing or null Credentials indicate access to the repository using pre-authentication where the Subject identifies the owner of the Session to create.

So the Abstract Sling Repository implementation of the login(String, String) method must be fixed along these lines:

if (credentials == null) {
    if (Subject.getSubject(AccessController.getContext()) != null) {
        return getRepository().login(null, workspace);
    } else {
        // TODO: getAnonCredentials(this.anonUser) should not be used for anonymous access
        return getRepository().login(new GuestCredentials(), workspace);
    }
} else {
    return getRepository().login(credentials, workspace);
}