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WCF - Authentication and Authorization in Enterprise Architecting

, 20 Jun 2012 CPOL
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How to expose a WCF Service Application along with Authentication Service and Authorization according to Enterprise Architecting standards.

Introduction

In this article I am going to show how to use Authorization and Authentication using a WCF service in Enterprise Architecting standards. This article is about advanced WCF concepts. I am using an error driven approach for better experience with the problems and the solutions.

The core aspects we cover here are:

  • WCF
  • ASP.NET Authentication Service
  • Custom Authentication
  • HTTP Cookies
  • Authorization PrincipalPermission attribute
  • Thread CurrentPrincipal
  • Message Interceptors

You will be wondering what the above are. In a quick snap following are the activities involved.

  1. Create a WCF Service Application
  2. Add a AuthenticationService.svc reusing the ASP.NET Authentication Service
  3. Create a User Validator class
  4. Enable Custom Authentication in Global.asax
  5. Return Cookie if valid user
  6. Modify service configuration
  7. Try accessing the Authentication Service in the browser
  8. Create a UtilityService.svc with a method named GetData(int)
  9. Decorate GetData(int) with the PrincipalPermission attribute for Authorized Access only
  10. Decorate the UtilityService class with the AspNetCompatibilityRequirements attribute
  11. Set he Utility Service constructor to set CurrentPrincipal from the Cookie
  12. Create the client application and add references to both services
  13. Create the Authentication Service instance and invoke the Login() method
  14. Receive the cookie and store it
  15. Create the UtilityService instance and invoke GetData()
  16. Attach the Cookie to the UtilityService client
  17. Test the application and ensure proper functioning
  18. Move the cookie attaching code to Interceptors in the Client Application
  19. Move the identity setting code to Interceptors in the Service Application
  20. Modify the service side code to include Role instead of Name
  21. Use Encrypted Ticket for storing User Name and Roles
  22. Retest the application

Authentication and Authorization

Before starting, we should have a clear understanding about Authentication and Authorization:

To simplify, Authentication proves the user by using his/her credentials or certificates. Authorization deals with the rights the user has. For example, the Admin user will have Read, Write, Delete privileges but an ordinary Clerk will only have Read permissions.

In WCF we are using the Membership infrastructure of ASP.NET to implement Authentication and Authorization.

Now we can start with the steps above:

Step 1: Create a WCF Service Application

Step 2: Add a AuthenticationService.svc reusing the ASP.NET Authentication Service.

Add a new WCF Service and name it AuthenticationService.svc. Delete the associated files as we are going to expose the ASP.NET Authentication Service.

  1. Delete AuthenticationService.cs
  2. Delete IAuthenticationService.cs

Replace the contents of AuthenticationService.svc with the following:

<%@ ServiceHost 
  Language="C#"
  Service="System.Web.ApplicationServices.AuthenticationService" 
  Factory="System.Web.ApplicationServices.ApplicationServicesHostFactory" %>

Here we are exposing System.Web.ApplicationServices.AuthenticationService through the svc file. The associated namespace is referred to our project by default.

The Authentication Service supports the following methods:

  • Login()
  • Logout()
  • ValidateUser()

Each of these methods work with the Membership Provider to perform the functionalities. We can also customize these aspects by providing our own database of user credentials and controlling the cookie creations.

Step 3: Create the User Validator class.

The Authentication Service will receive the User Name and Password. We need to validate this with a Custom Provider. (We are not using the ASP.NET Membership provider here.)

Following is the class definition of it. For the time being we are hard-coding the user name as tom and password as chicago12.

public class UserValidator
{
    public bool IsUserValid(string userName, string password)
    {
        bool result = (userName == "tom") && (password == "chicago12");
        return result;
    }
}

(Later in real projects, you can change this single class to connect to a database and validate the username and password.)

Step 4: Enable Custom Authentication in Global.asax.

Add a new item, Web > Global Application Class into the project.

Replace the Appilcation_Start event as follows:

protected void Application_Start(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    System.Web.ApplicationServices.AuthenticationService.Authenticating +=  
        new EventHandler<System.Web.ApplicationServices.AuthenticatingEventArgs>(
        AuthenticationService_Authenticating);
}

Add the following event handler:

void AuthenticationService_Authenticating(object sender, 
          System.Web.ApplicationServices.AuthenticatingEventArgs e)
{
    e.Authenticated = new UserValidator().IsUserValid(e.UserName, e.Password);
    e.AuthenticationIsComplete = true;
}

The above method extracts the User Name and Password from the Custom Credential object of the Authentication Event Argument. Then it validates the User Name and Password with our UserValidator class.

The property Authenticated represents true / false if a user is valid or not, respectively.

Step 5: Return Cookie if valid User.

Now we need to send back a Cookie if the user is valid. For this, add the following code in the above method.

if (e.Authenticated)
{
    // Create Cookie
    HttpCookie cookie = new HttpCookie(FormsAuthentication.FormsCookieName);
    cookie.Value = e.UserName;
 
    // Attach Cookie to Operation Context header
    HttpResponseMessageProperty response = new HttpResponseMessageProperty();
    response.Headers[HttpResponseHeader.SetCookie] = cookie.Name + "=" +cookie.Value;
    OperationContext.Current.OutgoingMessageProperties
         [HttpResponseMessageProperty.Name] = response;
}

The above code performs the following:

  1. Create a cookie with the default name (.ASPXAUTH)
  2. Set value to the User Name
  3. Add the cookie to the WCF OperationContext message property

Step 6: Modify the service configuration.

Now we need to modify the web.config file to include the following:

  1. Enable the Authentication Service
  2. Enable ASP.NET Compatibility
  3. Replace the contents of web.config with the following:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<configuration>
  <system.web>
    <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" />
  </system.web>
  <system.web.extensions>
    <scripting>
      <webServices>
        <authenticationService enabled="true"/>
      </webServices>
    </scripting>
  </system.web.extensions>
  <system.serviceModel>
    <behaviors>
      <serviceBehaviors>
        <behavior>
          <serviceMetadata httpGetEnabled="true"/>
          <serviceDebug includeExceptionDetailInFaults="true"/>
        </behavior>
      </serviceBehaviors>
    </behaviors>
    <serviceHostingEnvironment multipleSiteBindingsEnabled="true" aspNetCompatibilityEnabled="true" />
  </system.serviceModel>
  <system.webServer>
    <modules runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests="true"/>
  </system.webServer>
</configuration>

Step 7: Try accessing the Authentication Service in the browser.

Now build the project and try accessing AuthenticationService.svc in a browser. If you are able to see the following page, then you are on the right track. (Else, please ensure the steps above for any corrections / use the attached source code.)

Step 8, 9, 10: Create a UtilityService.svc with a method named GetData(int).

Add a new WCF service named UtilityService.svc into our service application. Delete the existing methods inside the resulting classes and interfaces. Add the following contents to the interface and class, respectively.

// IUtilityService.cs
[ServiceContract]
public interface IUtilityService
{
    [OperationContract]
    string GetData(int i);
}

// UtilityService.svc
using System.ServiceModel;
using System.Security.Permissions;
using System.ServiceModel.Activation;
 
namespace EntArch_WcfService
{
    [AspNetCompatibilityRequirements(RequirementsMode = 
             AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode.Allowed)]
    public class UtilityService : IUtilityService
    {
        [PrincipalPermission(SecurityAction.Demand, Name = "tom")]
        public string GetData(int i)
        {
            string result = "You Entered: " + i.ToString();
 
            return result;
        }
    }
}

[PrinicalPermission] ensures that only the user with name tom is authorized to access the method GetData(). In real world applications we will be using the Role property to authorize a group of users.

[AspNetCompatibilityRequirements] ensures that the service can be run in ASP.NET Compatibility mode as we are using this mode for our Authentication infrastructure needs.

Authorization can be applied in two ways:

  • Imperative: Example: if (Roles.IsUserInRole())
  • Declarative: PrincipalPermission

Step 11: Set the Utility Service constructor to set CurrentPrincipal from cookie.

The WCF Authentication Service had sent a cookie to the user. This cookie will be returned back to the Utility Service (and any new services in future) by the client. We need to retrieve the Cookie and extract the user name out of it. This user name has to be set to the current thread principal. In real projects, you need to set the Roles as well.

Following are the activities involved in this step:

  1. Retrieve Cookie from OperationContext Income Message properties
  2. Extract the user name out of the Cookie
  3. Create a class CustomIdentity implementing IIdentity
  4. Set the Thread Current Principal to the CustomIdentity instance

Modify the constructor of UtilityService as follows:

public UtilityService()
{
    // Extract Cookie (name=value) from messageproperty
    var messageProperty = (HttpRequestMessageProperty)
        OperationContext.Current.IncomingMessageProperties[HttpRequestMessageProperty.Name];
    string cookie = messageProperty.Headers.Get("Set-Cookie");
    string[] nameValue = cookie.Split('=', ',');
    string userName = string.Empty;
 
    // Set User Name from cookie
    if (nameValue.Length >= 2)
        userName = nameValue[1];
 
    // Set Thread Principal to User Name
    CustomIdentity customIdentity = new CustomIdentity();
    GenericPrincipal threadCurrentPrincipal = new GenericPrincipal(customIdentity, new string[] { });
    customIdentity.IsAuthenticated = true;
    customIdentity.Name = userName;
    System.Threading.Thread.CurrentPrincipal = threadCurrentPrincipal;
}

Following is the class definition for CustomIdentity. (You need to place it inside the service project.)

class CustomIdentity : IIdentity
{
    public string AuthenticationType
    {
        get;
        set;
    }
 
    public bool IsAuthenticated
    {
        get;
        set;
    }
 
    public string Name
    {
        get;
        set;
    }
}

Step 12: Create the client application and add references to both services.

Now we are ready to create the client application to consume both the services. Add a new Windows Forms application to our existing solution and name it ClientApplication. Make sure you made the Solution Properties > Start Up Projects to start both our Server and Client Applications as shown below.

Now add Service References to the following services:

  1. AuthenticationService.svc
  2. UtilityService.svc

Step 13: Create Authentication Service instance and invoke the Login() method.

Now we are ready to test our Authentication Service. Create a button on the Main Form and name it Authenticate. On the button click, create an instance of the client and invoke the Login() method with the right credentials. You should get the result as true.

private void AuthenticateButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    AuthSvc.AuthenticationServiceClient client = 
         new AuthSvc.AuthenticationServiceClient();
    bool result = client.Login("tom", "chicago12", string.Empty, true);

    MessageBox.Show(result.ToString());
}

On running the client application and clicking the button, you will receive the following output:

Step 14: Receive the Cookie and store it.

The above code just checks the result of Login(). But we need to actually have the returned cookie in case of successful validation. For this we need to replace the above code with the following:

AuthSvc.AuthenticationServiceClient client = new AuthSvc.AuthenticationServiceClient();
 
using (new OperationContextScope(client.InnerChannel))
{
    bool result = client.Login("tom", "chicago12", string.Empty);
    var responseMessageProperty = (HttpResponseMessageProperty) 
         OperationContext.Current.IncomingMessageProperties[HttpResponseMessageProperty.Name];
 
    if (result)
    {
        string cookie = responseMessageProperty.Headers.Get("Set-Cookie");
        MessageBox.Show(result.ToString() + Environment.NewLine + cookie);
    }
}

The code creates a new OperationContextScope and invokes the Login() method. After invocation, the Cookie is extracted from the response header.

On running the client application again and clicking the button, you should be getting the following output:

The output displays the result as well as the cookie information. You can see the cookie name as .ASPXAUTH and value as tom.

Step 15: Create the UtilityService instance and invoke GetData() by attaching stored Cookie.

Inside the client application, we can add reference to the second service (UtilityService.svc).

Now add a new button with text as Invoke Utility. On the button click handler, add the following code:

private void InvokeUtility_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    UtilSvc.UtilityServiceClient utilClient = new UtilSvc.UtilityServiceClient();
    string result = utilClient.GetData(10);
    MessageBox.Show(result);
}

On executing the application and clicking the button, you will receive the following error:

“Request for principal permission failed.”

The reason for the error is that the current thread user name is not tom. This error can be solved by doing the next step.

Step 16: Attach the Cookie to the UtilityService client.

In order to solve the above error, we need to attach the cookie from the Authentication Service to the current OperationContext. We need to extract the variable cookie out of the Authentication method so that it can be used in the Utility Invocation method.

Now replace the contents of InvokeUtility_Click as follows:

private void InvokeUtility_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(cookie))
    {
        MessageBox.Show("Please click Authenticate first.");
        return;
    }
 
    UtilSvc.UtilityServiceClient utilClient = new UtilSvc.UtilityServiceClient();
 
    using (new OperationContextScope(utilClient.InnerChannel))
    {
 
        HttpRequestMessageProperty request = new HttpRequestMessageProperty();
        request.Headers[HttpResponseHeader.SetCookie] = cookie;
        OperationContext.Current.OutgoingMessageProperties
                 [HttpRequestMessageProperty.Name] = request;
 
        string result = utilClient.GetData(10);
        MessageBox.Show(result);
    }
}

The method now performs the following activities:

  1. Ensure the cookie field has a value (Valid Authentication Service call needed).
  2. Create an HTTP Request Message property to set to Cookie field.
  3. Attach the Message property instance to the OperationContext.

Step 17: Test the application and ensure proper functioning.

Now we are ready with the Authentication and Authorization infrastructure. Please run the application and test the features in two steps:

  1. Click the Authenticate button and wait for the response.
  2. Click the InvokeUtility button.

You will get the following message box on successful authorization.

If you can see the above result.. Great!! You are done with Authentication and Authorization.

Step 18: Move the Cookie attaching code to Interceptors in the Client Application.

Now we need to implement Interceptors in the client side.

Why do we need Interceptors?

This is because the above code of attaching a Cookie to the OperationContext seems to be a tedious job every time we need to do a service call. We can move these tasks to the background using WCF Interceptors.

MSDN: WCF Data Services enable an application to intercept request messages so that you can add custom logic to an operation. You can use this custom logic to validate data in incoming messages. You can also use it to further restrict the scope of a query request, such as to insert a custom authorization policy on a per request basis.

Following are the activities involved in this step.

  1. Add Interceptor Behavior inside client web.config
  2. Create the Interceptor Behavior class
  3. Create the Message Inspector class
  4. Move the code from the Form to the Message Inspector class

To start, add the following code into the Client Application app.config file. Make sure you add them just before the </system.serviceModel> tag.

<!-- Interceptors-->
<behaviors>
  <endpointBehaviors>
    <behavior name="InterceptorBehaviour">
      <interceptorBehaviorExtension />
    </behavior>
  </endpointBehaviors>
</behaviors>
<extensions>
  <behaviorExtensions>
    <add name="interceptorBehaviorExtension" type="ClientApplication.InterceptorBehaviorExtension, 
          ClientApplication, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null" />
  </behaviorExtensions>
</extensions>

Change the behaviorConfiguration element of the Utility Service section as shown below:

Now we need to create the Behavior Extension and Interceptor classes inside the Client Application.

// Behavior Extension Class – Attaches Cookie Inspector to the client behavior
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using System.ServiceModel.Configuration;
 
namespace ClientApplication
{
    public class InterceptorBehaviorExtension : BehaviorExtensionElement, IEndpointBehavior
    {
        public override System.Type BehaviorType
        {
            get { return typeof(InterceptorBehaviorExtension); }
        }
 
        protected override object CreateBehavior()
        {
            return new InterceptorBehaviorExtension();
        }
 
        public void AddBindingParameters(ServiceEndpoint endpoint, 
               System.ServiceModel.Channels.BindingParameterCollection bindingParameters)
        {
            
        }
 
        public void ApplyClientBehavior(ServiceEndpoint endpoint, 
               System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.ClientRuntime clientRuntime)
        {
            clientRuntime.MessageInspectors.Add(new CookieMessageInspector());
        }
 
        public void ApplyDispatchBehavior(ServiceEndpoint endpoint, 
               System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.EndpointDispatcher endpointDispatcher)
        {
            
        }
 
        public void Validate(ServiceEndpoint endpoint)
        {
            
        }
    }
}

// Cookie Inspector Class
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher;
using System.ServiceModel.Channels;
using System.Net;
using System.Windows.Forms;
 
namespace ClientApplication
{
    public class CookieMessageInspector : IClientMessageInspector
    {
        private string cookie;
 
        public CookieMessageInspector()
        {
            
        }
 
        public void AfterReceiveReply(ref System.ServiceModel.Channels.Message reply,
            object correlationState) 
        { 
        }
 
        public object BeforeSendRequest(ref System.ServiceModel.Channels.Message request,
            System.ServiceModel.IClientChannel channel)
        {
            if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(Globals.Cookie))
            {
                MessageBox.Show("No Cookie Information found! Please Authenticate.");
                return null;
            }
 
            HttpRequestMessageProperty requestMessageProperty = new HttpRequestMessageProperty();
            requestMessageProperty.Headers[HttpResponseHeader.SetCookie] = Globals.Cookie;
            request.Properties[HttpRequestMessageProperty.Name] = requestMessageProperty;
 
            return null;
        }
    }
}
  • ApplyClientBehavior – This method enables us to attach client side behaviors to the WCF calls. We are attaching a Cookie Inspector (CookieMessageInspector) in this method.
  • CookieMessageInspector – This class takes care of attaching the Cookie to outgoing message properties (through the BeforeSendRequest method). The Cookie is saved in the Globals.Cookie property after the Authentication Service is called.

Step 19: Move the identity setting code to Interceptors in the Service Application.

You can remember that our UtilityService.svc has a lot of code in the constructor doing the following:

  • Extracting Cookie from the current OperationContext
  • Getting the user name from the Cookie
  • Setting the user name to the current thread

This code for one utility seems to be fine. But in the case of dozens of utility services, the same code needs to be duplicated. We can solve this by using background interceptors in the service side. For this we can use the same BehaviorExtension and Inspector classes with slight modifications.

Place the following files inside the WCF Service Application.

// InterceptorBehaviorExtension.cs
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.ServiceModel.Description;
using System.ServiceModel.Configuration;
using System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher;
 
namespace EntArch_WcfService
{
    public class InterceptorBehaviorExtension : BehaviorExtensionElement, IServiceBehavior
    {
        public override Type BehaviorType
        {
            get { return typeof(InterceptorBehaviorExtension); }
        }
 
        protected override object CreateBehavior()
        {
            return new InterceptorBehaviorExtension();
        }
 
        public void AddBindingParameters(ServiceDescription serviceDescription, 
               System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase serviceHostBase, 
               System.Collections.ObjectModel.Collection<ServiceEndpoint> endpoints, 
               System.ServiceModel.Channels.BindingParameterCollection bindingParameters)
        {
            
        }
 
        public void ApplyDispatchBehavior(ServiceDescription 
               serviceDescription, System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase serviceHostBase)
        {
            foreach (ChannelDispatcher dispatcher in serviceHostBase.ChannelDispatchers)
            {
                foreach (var endpoint in dispatcher.Endpoints)
                {
                    endpoint.DispatchRuntime.MessageInspectors.Add(new IdentityMessageInspector());
                }
            }
        }
 
        public void Validate(ServiceDescription serviceDescription, 
               System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase serviceHostBase)
        {
            
        }
    }
}

// IdentityMessageInspector.cs
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher;
using System.ServiceModel.Channels;
using System.Net;
using System.IO;
using System.ServiceModel;
using System.Security.Principal;
 
namespace EntArch_WcfService
{
    public class IdentityMessageInspector : IDispatchMessageInspector
    {
        public object AfterReceiveRequest(ref Message request, 
               System.ServiceModel.IClientChannel channel, 
               System.ServiceModel.InstanceContext instanceContext)
        {
            // Extract Cookie (name=value) from messageproperty
            var messageProperty = (HttpRequestMessageProperty)
                OperationContext.Current.IncomingMessageProperties[HttpRequestMessageProperty.Name];
            string cookie = messageProperty.Headers.Get("Set-Cookie");
            string[] nameValue = cookie.Split('=', ',');
            string userName = string.Empty;
 
            // Set User Name from cookie
            if (nameValue.Length >= 2)
                userName = nameValue[1];
 
            // Set Thread Principal to User Name
            CustomIdentity customIdentity = new CustomIdentity();
            GenericPrincipal threadCurrentPrincipal = 
                   new GenericPrincipal(customIdentity, new string[] { });
            customIdentity.IsAuthenticated = true;
            customIdentity.Name = userName;
            System.Threading.Thread.CurrentPrincipal = threadCurrentPrincipal;
 
            return null;
        }
 
        public void BeforeSendReply(ref Message reply, object correlationState)
        {
            
        }
    }
}

Now remove the code from the UtilityService constructor. The new constructor will look empty.

public UtilityService()
{
}

Now add the following code to the web.config file of the service just under <system.serviceModel>.

<services>
      <service name="EntArch_WcfService.UtilityService" behaviorConfiguration="InterceptorBehavior"/>
</services>
<behaviors>
      <serviceBehaviors>
        <behavior>
          <serviceMetadata httpGetEnabled="true"/>
          <serviceDebug includeExceptionDetailInFaults="true"/>
        </behavior>
        <behavior name="InterceptorBehavior">
          <interceptorBehaviorExtension />
        </behavior>
      </serviceBehaviors>
</behaviors>
<extensions>
      <behaviorExtensions>
        <add name="interceptorBehaviorExtension" 
              type="EntArch_WcfService.InterceptorBehaviorExtension, 
                    EntArch_WcfService, Version=1.0.0.0, 
                    Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null" />
      </behaviorExtensions>
</extensions>

Please make sure that the namespaces are correct and build the project.

Step 20: Modify the service side code to include Role instead of Name.

The current Authorization code is hardcoded for the user name Tom. But this is not feasible in the real world. We need to change the user name authorization to role based authorization.

Here each validated user will have certain roles associated with them. This role information will be fetched from the database during the Authentication process and passed along with the Cookie to the user.

Example:

User

Roles

tom

Read

pike

Read, Write

The roles are kept as strings and we can separate methods based on the roles as given below:

[PrincipalPermission(SecurityAction.Demand, Role = "Read")]
public string GetData(int i)
{}
[PrincipalPermission(SecurityAction.Demand, Role = "Write")]
public string SetData(int i)
{}

To accomplish the above, we need to modify the following.

  1. Modify UserValidator.IsUserVaild to return roles from the database
  2. Modify the AuthenticationService_Authenticating.Authentication method to include roles
  3. Concatenate the user name and roles in the Cookie value as semicolon (;) separated
  4. Modify the Identity Inspector to retrieve roles from the cookie value

The modifications are given below:

// UtilityService
[AspNetCompatibilityRequirements(RequirementsMode = AspNetCompatibilityRequirementsMode.Allowed)]
public class UtilityService : IUtilityService
{
    public UtilityService()
    {
            
    }
 
    [PrincipalPermission(SecurityAction.Demand, Role = "Read")]
    public string GetData(int i)
    {
        string result = "You Entered: " + i.ToString();
 
        return result;
    }
}

// User Validator
public class UserValidator
{
    public bool IsUserValid(string userName, string password, out IList<string> roles
     )
    {
        roles = new List<string>();
 
        bool result = (userName == "tom") && (password == "chicago12");
 
        if (result) // If valid user return the Roles of user
            roles.Add("Read");
 
        return result;
    }
}

private string Concatenate(string userName, IList<string> roles)
{
    string result = userName + ";";
 
    foreach (string role in roles)
        result += role + ";";
 
    return result;
}

Please note that the Read role is hardcoded in the above code:

// Identity Message Inspector
public object AfterReceiveRequest(ref Message request, 
       System.ServiceModel.IClientChannel channel, 
       System.ServiceModel.InstanceContext instanceContext)
{
    // Extract Cookie (name=value) from messageproperty
    var messageProperty = (HttpRequestMessageProperty)
        OperationContext.Current.IncomingMessageProperties[HttpRequestMessageProperty.Name];
    string cookie = messageProperty.Headers.Get("Set-Cookie");
    string[] nameValue = cookie.Split('=', ',');
    string value = string.Empty;
 
    // Set User Name from cookie
    if (nameValue.Length >= 2)
        value = nameValue[1];
 
    string userName = GetUserName(value);
    string[] roles = GetRoles(value);
 
    // Set Thread Principal to User Name
    CustomIdentity customIdentity = new CustomIdentity();
    GenericPrincipal threadCurrentPrincipal = new GenericPrincipal(customIdentity, roles);
    customIdentity.IsAuthenticated = true;
    customIdentity.Name = value;
    System.Threading.Thread.CurrentPrincipal = threadCurrentPrincipal;
 
    return null;
}
 
private string[] GetRoles(string value)
{
    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(value))
    {
        List<string> roles = new List<string>();
 
        int ix = 0;
        foreach (string item in value.Split(';'))
        {
            if (ix > 0)
                if (item.Trim().Length > 0)
                    roles.Add(item);
 
            ix++;
        }
 
                return roles.ToArray<string>();
    }
 
    return new string[0];
}
 
private string GetUserName(string value)
{
    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(value))
    {
        foreach (string item in value.Split(';'))
            return item;
    }
 
    return string.Empty;
}

Once the above codes are modified and ready, you can run the application. Try changing the role inside the PrincipalPermission attitude to Write and you will get an error on accessing the GetData() method.

Step 21: Create Cookie encryption.

As of now, our cookie contains information that is easily readable by HTTP examining utilities like Fiddler. This makes the Cookie information prone to security threats.

In this step, we are going to add encryption to the Cookie value. The above image displays the value which we are going to encrypt (username;Role).

FormsAuthenticationTicket: The System.Web.Security namespace provides a convenient class for us. We can store the user name and roles information inside this class instance. The ticket class also provides expiry and encryption facilities.

The following code creates the ticket:

FormsAuthenticationTicket ticket = new FormsAuthenticationTicket(
    1, 
    e.UserName, 
    DateTime.Now, 
    DateTime.Now.AddHours(24), 
    true, 
    roles,
    FormsAuthentication.FormsCookiePath);

The following code encrypts the ticket:

string encryptedValue = FormsAuthentication.Encrypt(ticket);

Now we can pass the ticket as a name value pair through the message properties:

HttpResponseMessageProperty response = new HttpResponseMessageProperty();
response.Headers[HttpResponseHeader.SetCookie] = FormsAuthentication.FormsCookieName + "=" + encryptedValue;
OperationContext.Current.OutgoingMessageProperties[HttpResponseMessageProperty.Name] = response;

You need to specify the Cookie name and Machine Key properties inside the web.config as shown below:

<configuration>
   <system.web>
        <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.0" />
        <authentication mode="Forms">
            <forms slidingExpiration="true"
              name="AuthCookie"
              protection="All"
              timeout="20"/>
        </authentication>
        <machineKey
          decryption="AES"
          validation="SHA1"
          decryptionKey="1523F567EE75F7FB5AC0AC4D79E1D9F25430E3E2F1BCDD3370BCFC4EFC97A541"
          validationKey="33CBA563F26041EE5B5FE9581076C40618DCC1218F5F447634EDE8624508A129"
         />
   </system.web>

In the Identity Inspector, we need to change the message property parsing code to reconstruct the ticket. On running the client application, we can see that the message information is now encrypted.

Step 22: Retest the application.

Now perform the following activities:

  1. Set the property of the client app.config to Copy Always
  2. Execute the application
  3. Click on Authenticate button
  4. Click on Utility Invoke button

Performing the button clicks as specified in Step 17, the same results should be achieved.

We can see the result as shown below:

This concludes our article on WCF Authentication using Cookies. I hope you enjoyed the learning curves and solutions.

Note 

The Membership provider used above is for learning purpose and in real world we have to go for Membership providers like ASP.NET Membership Provider, Active Directory Membership Provider etc. 

References

Summary

In this article we have seen how to expose a WCF Service Application along with Authentication Service and Authorization according to Enterprise Architecting standards.

Following are the activities involved:

  1. The client authenticates using AuthenticationService.svc and receives a Cookie.
  2. The authenticated Cookie is used in further communication.
  3. The Authorization part is played by the PrincipalPermission attribute.
  4. The WCF Interceptors do a good job by doing the Cookie attaching in the background.

You can note that the client needs to authenticate only once. Later the Cookie received is used to access other services. Based on real time requirements we need to enable Ticket Expiry as well.

The attached source contains the projects we have explained. Please let me know any clarifications or queries you have.

In the next article, we can learn about using a Silverlight application to use the same service.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Jean Paul V.A
Architect
United States United States
Jean Paul is a Microsoft MVP and Architect with 12+ years of experience. He is very much passionate in programming and his core skills are SharePoint, ASP.NET & C#.
 
In the academic side he do hold a BS in Computer Science & MBA. In the certification side he holds MCPD & MCTS spanning from .Net Fundamentals to SQL Server.
 
Most of the free time he will be doing technical activities like researching solutions, writing articles, resolving forum problems etc. He believes quality & satisfaction goes hand in hand.
 
You can find some of his work over here. He blogs at http://jeanpaulva.com
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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionWhy so complicated? [modified] PinmemberPascen9-May-12 2:48 
AnswerRe: Why so complicated? [modified] PinmemberJean Paul V.A9-May-12 21:53 

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