Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Signing and sending AuthnRequests in OpenSAML V3

Signing and sending a AuthnRequest in OpenSAML V3 is forutunatly not that different from how it was done in OpenSAML V2.

As described in this post on AuthnRequests OpenSAML V2, the AuthnRequest is the SAML request that starts a typical SSO authentication process. This is the SP requesting the IDP to authenticate a user.

As in V2 the HTTPRedirectDeflateEncoder is used, the main difference lays in the message context.

One of the major changes between V2 and V3 is the message contexts. I V2 the message contexts where basically one object containing general properties about the message and its destination. In V3 the message context concept has been expanded to be more flexible contain more information. In the new context structure there is a context object per purpose.

In my book A Guide to OpenSAML V3 I cover the use of the new message contexts in detail.

To sign and send a AuthnRequest, three contexts are needed.

The main context is created and the AuthnRequest is set.
MessageContext context = new MessageContext();

The SAMLPeerEntityContext and SAMLEndpointContext are created and configured to point to the endpoint of the message.
SAMLPeerEntityContext peerEntityContext = context.getSubcontext(SAMLPeerEntityContext.class, true);
SAMLEndpointContext endpointContext = peerEntityContext.getSubcontext(SAMLEndpointContext.class, true);

Next, the security parameters context is created and populated with signing information
SignatureSigningParameters signatureSigningParameters = new SignatureSigningParameters();
context.getSubcontext(SecurityParametersContext.class, true).setSignatureSigningParameters(signatureSigningParameters);

Next, the HTTPRedirectDeflateEncoder is created and populated with context and the http request object.
HTTPRedirectDeflateEncoder encoder = new HTTPRedirectDeflateEncoder();

Lastly the encoder is initialized and the message is encoded

For more detailed information on AuthnRequest, message context and all the new stuff in OpenSAML V3, please consider buying my book A Guide to OpenSAML V3.

Verifying signatures with OpenSAML v3

Here is the happy new of the day. Verifying a signature in OpenSAML V3 is done almost identical to how it is done in V2, so the blog post on the process from OpenSAML V2 is still very much relevant and worth checking out.

The only difference between the two version is that the SignatureValidator is no longer instantiated. Instead the validate method of SignatureValidator is now static and takes both the credentials and the signature object.

Below is the code for verifying signatures in OpenSAML V3
SAMLSignatureProfileValidator profileValidator = new SAMLSignatureProfileValidator();
SignatureValidator.validate(assertion.getSignature(), cred);

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New book release: OpenSAML version 3

As many of you know, version 2 of OpenSAML will officially reach its end of life at July 31 of 2016. This means that the library will not be receiving any new updates, not even critical security updates.

Because of this, everyone currently using version 2 of OpenSAML is strongly advised to migrate to OpenSAML version 3.

In light of this, I have done a fair amount of research on version 3 and am now releasing a new edition of A Guide to OpenSAML.

The new edition includes:
  • Sample project updated for V3
  • Updated code and explanatory text
  • New chapters on message handlers and message contexts
  • A rudimentary migration guide from V2 to V3 (based on changes needed in the sample project)
For the convenience of those of you that have read my previous book and are just migrating to V3, I have provided a chapter in the beginning, summarising all the changes since the last edition.

Monday, April 25, 2016

OpenSAML V3 Javadocs

So, as those of you working with OpenSAML probably have noticed, the version 2 of the OpenSAML library is closing in on its end of life. After July 31st no more security maintenance will be done at this version. Those using is asked to move to version 3 of the library.

I have had many questions on how to use the new version and unfortunately the documentation is not yet produced. I have started to dig into it and will post what I find out.

The first thing I noticed was a structure change in the maven setup. The library have been divided into many submodules as listed below. This makes the Javadoc a bit more hard to find but below are links the the javadoc for each module.

I hope this is of help.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SAML Chrome Extension Published!

I have been working with SAML for a while now and I have always used Firefox for debugging instead of my favorite browser, Chrome. Why? you ask. Because there is a plugin called SAML tracer on firefox that is excellent for viewing the SAML messages going across the browser. There have been no such plugin for Chrome.

Finally I have decided to take things into my own hands and build one.

And now it's done! SAML DevTools extension

Feature summary

  • The extension adds a panel to the Developer Tools
  • Shows all network requests for the current window
  • SAML requests are highlighted in green for usability
  • Can filter out SAML requests
  • Show request and response details
  • Displays syntax highlighted SAML message
  • Custom syntax highlighting for SAML to allow for easier reading

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Adding KeyInfo to a SAML message

When a message is signed with a private key, the receiving end will need to verify the message using the corresponding public key/certificate. But in order to do this, the receiving end must have the certificate.

The certificate is transported in encoded form in a KeyInfo element. Below is a example


There are many ways to give the receiving end the certificate. Two common methods is metadata and in the message.

When using the metadata method the KeyInfo object is embedded in the metadata inside the KeyDescriptor element. When attaching KeyInfo to the SAML message the element is embedded in the Signature object.

To create and add a KeyInfo object and add it to a SAML message signature, add this call to SecurityHelper before generating the signature.

SecurityHelper.prepareSignatureParams(signature, IDPCredentials.getCredential(),
                    Configuration.getGlobalSecurityConfiguration(), null);
This helper method does not only add a the key info but it also sets the

  • signature algorithm URI
  • canonicalization algorithm URI
  • and HMAC output length (if applicable and a value is configured)

Customising the KeyInfo

The above statement only uses the default configuration of for generating KeyInfo. To customise the KeyInfo you create your own instance of KeyInfoGeneratorFactory, set it up as preferred and use it in the statement. 
The example below shows how to use a X509KeyInfoGeneratorFactory to create a KeyInfo with properties from the X509 certificate used as credential.

X509KeyInfoGeneratorFactory x509Factory = new X509KeyInfoGeneratorFactory();

Configuration.getGlobalSecurityConfiguration().getKeyInfoGeneratorManager().registerFactory("x509emitingKeyInfoGenerator", x509Factory);

SecurityHelper.prepareSignatureParams(signature, SPCredentials.getCredential(), null,  "x509emitingKeyInfoGenerator");

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What is a SAML Assertion?

If you are just starting out trying to understand SAML you will come across the term SAML Assertion quite quickly. In this post or tutorial, I will try to explain to you what a SAML Assertion is and give you some examples on how they could look. This post mainly looks at the SAML Assertion in the perspective of the SAML Web Browser Profile. If you don't know what that is, have a look on my post about exactly that

What is a SAML Assertion?

The SAML Assertion is the main piece in the SAML puzzle. This is the object that the rest of SAML is build to safely build, transport and use.

A SAML Assertion is basically a package with security information about a entity.(e.g. A user) issued from the Identity Provider(IdP) to the Service Provider(SP). When the user has authenticated with the IdP a SAML Assertion is sent to the SP with the IdPs information about that user.

What does a SAML Assertion contain?

The SAML Assertion contains some general information like, who sent it, what time it was sent and validity period of the assertion. The assertion also contains statements about a user. These come in three different types.


The authentication statement contains, not surprisingly, information about the authentication of the user. Mainly when and by what means the user was authenticated.



The attribute statement can contain application specific attributes connected to the user, for example. Address, telephone number social security number.



The authorization statement contains information about the users access rights to different resources. This statement can be used for basic authorization. For more advanced authorization cases I recommend taking a look at  the XACML standard


What does a SAML Assertion look like?

Here is an example on what a whole can look like.



If you have any questions please drop a comment in on this post and I will answer it as soon as possible.

Further reading

In my book, A Guide to OpenSAML, I describe the SAML Assertion and the rest of SAML in detail.

A Guide to OpenSAML