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A tiny HMAC implementation and warden strategy

README.md

HMAC

This gem provides request authentication via HMAC. The main usage is request based, noninteractive authentication for API implementations. Two strategies are supported that differ mainly in how the authentication information is transferred to the server: One header-based authentication method and one query-based. The authentication scheme is in some parts based on ideas laid out in this article and the following discussion: http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2009/12/principles-for-standardized-rest-authentication.html

The gem also provides a small helper class that can be used to generate request signatures.

Installation

Install the gem:

gem install warden-hmac-authentication

Or use Bundler:

gem 'warden-hmac-authentication', require: ['hmac/strategies/header','hmac/strategies/query']

NOTE: This gem is designed to allow partial loading - no code will be auto-loaded by defaut. That's why you have to specify each individual strategy you want to load.

Header-Based authentication

The header-based authentication transports the authentication information in the (misnamed) Authorization HTTP-Header. The primary advantage of header-based authentication is that request urls are stable even if authentication information changes. This improves cacheability of the resource.

Header-based authentication is supported by the :hmac_header strategy.

Query-Based authentication

Query-Based authentication encodes all authentication in the query string. Query-based authentication has unique advantages in scenarios with little or no control over the request headers such as pre-generating and embedding a signed URL in a web-page or similar cases. However, resources requested using query-based authentication cannot be cached since the request URL changes for every request. All information related to authentication is passed as a single hash in one single query parameter to minimize collisions with other query parameters. The name of the query parameter defaults to auth and can be controlled using the :auth_parameter config option. Query-based authentication takes optional headers into account if they are present in the request.

Query-based authentication is supported by the :hmac_query strategy.

Shared secret

Both strategies use a secret that is shared between the server and the client to calculate the signature. The secret must be configured when registering the strategy. For simple cases a single secret may be sufficient but most real-world scenarios will require a different secret for each possible client. Such cases can be managed by passing a Proc as secret. An empty secret (empty string or nil) will trigger authentication failure.

Warden strategy usage

Both strategies can be used at the same time and will not interfere with each other. It is advisable to attempt query-based authentication first to reduce the chance that a stray Authorization header triggers header-based authentication. Both strategies read additional configuration from a hash named :hmac in the warden scope.

Configure the HMAC warden strategy:

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac,  :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => "secrit"
                                 }
end

Retrieving the secret from a database or other storage

If you want to retrieve the secret and token using a different strategy, either extend the HMAC strategy:

class Warden::Strategies::HMACQuery < Warden::Strategies::HMACBase
  def retrieve_user
    User.get(request[:user_id])
  end

  def secret
    retrieve_user.secret
  end
end

or use a Proc that retrieves the secret.

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :store => false, 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => Proc.new {|strategy|
                                     "secret"
                                   }
                                 }
end

Retrieving the user from the database

If a callable object is given for the :retrieve_user option, this callable will be called after successful authentication. The callable must accept the strategy itself as its only argument. The strategy allows access to all request parameters and header as well as all derived values. The result will be memoized.

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :store => false, 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :retrieve_user => Proc.new {|strategy|
                                     User.get(strategy.params["userid"])
                                   }
                                 }
end

An alternative is overwriting the strategies retrieve_user method.

Controlling the HMAC algorithm

The algorithm can be controlled using the :algorithm option:

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => "secrit",
                                   :algorithm => "md5"
                                 }
end

The algorithm defaults to SHA1.

Auth Scheme Name

The name of the authentication scheme is primarily used for header authentication. It is used to construct the Authorization header and must thus avoid names that are reserved for existing standardized authentication schemes such as Basic and Digest. The scheme name is also used to construct the default values for various header names. The authentication scheme name defaults to HMAC

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => "secrit",
                                   :auth_scheme_name => "MyScheme"
                                 }
end

No authentication attempt is made if the scheme name in the Authorization header does not match the configured scheme name.

Authentication Header Format

The format of the Authentication Header can be controlled using the :auth_header_format directive. The given format string will be interpolated with all given options and the signature. The default value is %{auth_scheme} %{signature} which will result in an auth header with a format such as HMAC 539263f4f83878a4917d2f9c1521320c28b926a9. The format string must contain at least the scheme and signature components.

The :auth_header_format directive has a companion directive, :auth_header_parse which must be a regular expression. Any given regular expression will be evaluated against the authorization header. The results can be retrieved using the parsed_auth_header method. The regular expression must at least contain a pattern named scheme and pattern named signature. The default value for this directive is a regular expression that is auto-generated by translating the :auth_header_format setting to a regular expression that contains a named capture group for each named part of the format string. Each capture allows for word characters, plus, dash, underscore and dot. The default :auth_header_format %{auth_scheme} %{signature} will be translated to /(?<auth_scheme>[-_+.\w]+) (?<signature>[-_+.\w]+)/.

See the section about multiple authentication secrets for a use-case and a comprehensive example.

Optional nonce

An optional nonce can be passed in the request to increase security. The nonce is not limited to digits and can be any string. It's advisable to limit the length of the nonce to a reasonable value. If a nonce is used it should be changed with every request. The default header for the nonce is X-#{auth-scheme-name}-Nonce (X-HMAC-Nonce). The header name can be controlled using the :nonce_header configuration option.

The :require_nonce configuration can be set to true to enforce a nonce. If a nonce is required no authentication attempt will be made for requests not providing a nonce.

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => "secrit",
                                   :require_nonce => true
                                 }
end

Required headers and parameters

Required headers and parameters must be present for a successful authentication attempt. The list of required headers defaults to the Authorization header for header-based authentication and is empty for query-based authentication. The list of required parameters defaults to the chosen authentication parameter for query-based authentication and is empty for header-based authentication. If a required parameter or header is not included in the request, no authentication attempt will be made for the strategy.

Other optional headers

Some headers are optional but should be included in the signature of the request if present. The default list of optional headers includes Content-MD5 and Content-Type. The list of optional headers can be configured using the :optional_headers config option. Optional headers are always included in the canonical representation if they are found in the request and not blank. Optional headers will be included in the canonical representation for query-based authentication if they are present in the request so be careful not to include any header that is out of your clients control. Optional headers are currently not validated in any other way, that is the strategy does not check that they actually match the provided request body. This check is currently up to the application.

Date and TTL

It is good practice to enforce a max-age for tokens. The hmac strategy allows this via the ttl parameter. It controls the max age of tokens in seconds and defaults to 900 seconds. Pass nil as ttl value to disable TTL checking.

The timestamp of the request is usually passed in the Date HTTP-Header. However, since some HTTP-Client libraries do not allow setting the Date header another header may be used to override the Date header. The name of this header can be controlled via the :alternate_date_header option and defaults to X-#{auth-scheme-name}-Date (X-HMAC-Date).

The date must be formatted as HTTP-Date according to RFC 1123, section 5.2.14 and should be provided in GMT time. The day of the date must be zero-padded to two digits.

Example: Setting the ttl to 300 seconds:

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :token, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :hmac => { 
                                   :secret => "secrit",
                                   :ttl => 300 # make tokens valid for 5 minutes
                                 }
end

Clock Skew

The TTL allows for a little clock skew to accommodate servers that are slightly running off time. The allowed clock skew can be controlled with the :clockskew option and defaults to 5 seconds.

Canonical representation

Both request methods use a canonical representation of the request together with the shared secret to calculate a signature that authenticates the request. The canonical representation is calculated using the following algorithm:

  • Start with the empty string ("")
  • Add the HTTP-Verb for the request ("GET", "POST", ...) in capital letters, followed by a single newline (U+000A).
  • Add the date for the request using the form "date:#{date-of-request}" followed by a single newline. The date for the signature must be formatted exactly as in the request.
  • Add the nonce for the request in the form "nonce:#{nonce-in-request}" followed by a single newline. If no nonce is passed use the empty string as nonce value.
  • Convert all remaining header names to lowercase.
  • Sort the remaining headers lexicographically by header name.
  • Trim header values by removing any whitespace before the first non-whitespace character and after the last non-whitespace character.
  • Combine lowercase header names and header values using a single colon (“:”) as separator. Do not include whitespace characters around the separator.
  • Combine all headers using a single newline (U+000A) character and append them to the canonical representation, followed by a single newline (U+000A) character.
  • Append the url-decoded query path to the canonical representation
  • URL-decode query parameters if required
  • If using query-based authentication: Remove all authentication-related parameters from the query parameters.
  • Sort all query parameters lexicographically by parameter name and join them, using a single ampersand (“&”) as separator
  • Append the query string using a single question mark (“?”) as separator unless the query string is empty

Examples

Given the following request:

GET /example/resource.html?sort=header%20footer&order=ASC HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.org
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 12:06:11 GMT
User-Agent: curl/7.20.0 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.20.0 OpenSSL/1.0.0a zlib/1.2.3
X-MAC-Nonce: Thohn2Mohd2zugoo

The canonical representation is:

GET\n
date:Mon, 20 Jun 2011 12:06:11 GMT\n
nonce:Thohn2Mohd2zugo\n
/example/resource.html?order=ASC&sort=header footer

Given the following request:

GET /example/resource.html?sort=header%20footer&order=ASC HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.org
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 12:06:11 GMT
User-Agent: curl/7.20.0 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.20.0 OpenSSL/1.0.0a zlib/1.2.3
X-MAC-Nonce: Thohn2Mohd2zugoo
X-MAC-Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:06:57 GMT

The canonical representation is:

GET\n
date:Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:06:57 GMT\n
nonce:Thohn2Mohd2zugo\n
/example/resource.html?order=ASC&sort=header footer

Generating the canonical representation for query-based authentication

The canonical representation for query-based authentication is generated using the same algorithm as for header-based authentication, but some of the values are retrieved from the query string instead of the respective headers. All query parameters related to authentication must be removed from the query string before generating the canonical representation.

Example

Given the following request:

GET /example/resource.html?page=3&order=id%2casc&auth%5Bnonce%5D=foLiequei7oosaiWun5aoy8oo&auth%5Bdate%5D=Mon%2C+20+Jun+2011+14%3A06%3A57+GMT HTTP/1.1
Host: www.example.org
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 12:06:11 GMT
User-Agent: curl/7.20.0 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.20.0 OpenSSL/1.0.0a zlib/1.2.3

The canonical representation is:

GET\n 
date:Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:06:57 GMT\n
nonce:foLiequei7oosaiWun5aoy8oo\n
/example/resource.html?order=id,asc&page=3

HMACSigner usage

The HMACSigner class can be used to validate and generate signatures for a given request. Most methods accept a hash as an intermediate representation of the request but some methods accept and operate on full urls.

h = HMAC::Signer.new
h.sign_url('http://example.org/example.html', 'secret')
h.validate_url_signature('http://example.org/example.html?auth[signature]=foo', 'secret')

Using multiple authentication secrets

Most applications will need to authenticate users using a combination of a user-identifier and and associated secret.

Header-Based Authentication

The format of the Autorization header can be controlled using the :auth_header_format option, the regular expression used to parse can be set using :auth_header_parse. Combining these two options with a proc that retrieves the signing key from a storage authentication with multiple secrets allows us to implement multiple signing keys:

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :store => false, 
                                 :hmac => {
                                   :secret => Proc.new {|strategy|
                                     keys = {
                                       "KEY1" => 'secrit',
                                       "KEY2" => "foo"
                                     }

                                     access_key_id = strategy.parsed_auth_header["access_key_id"]
                                     keys[access_key_id]
                                   },
                                   :auth_header_format => '%{auth_scheme} %{access_key_id} %{signature}'                                     }
end

This combination of settings uses a slightly different Format for the authorization header and transports the secret keys ID in the header of the form HMAC KEY2 a59456da1f61f86e96622e283780f58b7428c892

Another option would be transporting the access key id in a separate header.

Query-Based Authentication

The same result can be achieved using query-based auth by injecting extra authentication parameters and retrieving the access key in the proc. Given a url such as http://example.org/example.html?auth[signature]=foo&auth[access_key_id]=KEY2 the following configuration will validate the signature with the secret foo:

use Warden::Manager do |manager|
  manager.failure_app = -> env { [401, {"Content-Length" => "0"}, [""]] }
  # other scopes
  manager.scope_defaults :hmac, :strategies => [:hmac_query, :hmac_header], 
                                 :store => false, 
                                 :hmac => {
                                   :secret => Proc.new {|strategy|
                                     keys = {
                                       "KEY1" => 'secrit',
                                       "KEY2" => "foo"
                                     }

                                     access_key_id = strategy.params["auth"]["access_key_id"]
                                     keys[access_key_id]
                                   }
                                 }
end

To simplify the generation of such urls, the HMAC::Signer accepts an :extra_auth_params option for query based authentication. Parameters passed via this option will be injected in the auth hash. Parameters injected in the auth hash via this option will not be part of the signature, so only parameters that control the generation of the signature should be placed here.

h.sign_url('http://example.org/example.html', 'foo', {:extra_auth_params => {"access_key_id" => "KEY2"}})

Faraday Middleware

The library includes a faraday middleware that can be used to sign requests made with the faraday http lib. The middleware accepts the same list of options as the HMAC::Signer class.

Example (query based)

Faraday.new(:url => "http://example.com") do |builder|
  builder.use      Faraday::Request::Hmac, secret, {:query_based => true, :extra_auth_params => {"access_key_id" => "KEY2"}}
  builder.response :raise_error
  builder.adapter  :net_http
end

Example (header based with custom scheme name)

Faraday.new(:url => "http://example.com") do |builder|
  builder.use      Faraday::Request::Hmac, secret, {:auth_scheme => 'MYSCHEME', :auth_key => 'TESTKEYID', :auth_header_format => '%{auth_scheme} %{auth_key} %{signature}'}}
  builder.response :raise_error
  builder.adapter  :net_http
end

Licence

Copyright (c) 2011 Florian Gilcher florian.gilcher@asquera.de, Felix Gilcher felix.gilcher@asquera.de

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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