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WebAuthn Authentication in AM 6.5


ForgeRock AccessManagement 6.5, will have out of the box integration for the W3C WebAuthn. This modern “FIDO2” standard allows cryptographic passwordless authentication – integrating with a range of native authenticators, from USB keys to fingerprint and facial recognition systems found natively in many mobile and desktop operating systems.

Why is this so cool? Well firstly we know passwords are insecure and deliver a poor user experience. But aren’t there loads of strong MFA solutions out there already? Well, there are, but many are proprietary, require complex integrations and SDK’s and ultimately, don’t provide the level of agility that many CISO’s and application designers now require. 

Rolling out a secure authentication system today, will probably only result in further integration costs and headaches tomorrow, when the next “cool” login method emerges.

Having a standards based approach, allows for easier inter-operability and a more agile platform for change.

AM 6.5 has introduced two components to allow this to happen: A WebAuthn registration node and a WebAuthn login node. Super simple drag and drop nodes that can augment existing authentication journeys or simply be used on their own.

To demonstrate, take a look at the following user experience flow. This is using a Samsung S8 Edge mobile with fingerprint authentication enabled, accessing AM 6.5 via a Chrome Canary browser. This flow is registering my “credential” against AM.





So what just happened? Well, basically AM triggered some client side JavaScript, that accessed the new credentials management API now available in the Chrome v70 browsers – you can also find it in the latest Microsoft Edge and Firefox browsers too. This API interacted with the Android OS to trigger a security key flow. The Android device then triggered a user interaction for a finger print, which caused a new public/private key pair to be generated and mapped to the user and relying party (AM) triggering the event. The public key was sent back to AM, whilst the private key was stored in the local device’s secure element.

On the AM side, this was simply using a standard intelligent authentication tree and the native callbacks.



So I’ve now registered some credentials. What can I do with that?

Well basically, we leverage that credential during login. Take a look at this video that shows the login journey.


Hardly rocket science eh? So here, again AM triggers some client side JavaScript that initiates the native OS prompting me for a fingerprint to locally authenticate to the device. On result of that, the device can react to a challenge response flow that AM initiates. I basically prove ownership of the private key to the corresponding public key that AM has against my user profile.




Once complete, I’m authenticated and redirected to my user profile as normal. Simples. And not a password in sight.

The powerful aspect is really the interchangeability. An app owner can easily change authenticators, without having to change the backend server side deployment. No complex code changes, or SDK roll-outs, or device integration. Simple and secure with excellent agility.



Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, I have been waiting for U2F in AM for a long time, and this is that much better! Very exciting feature.

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