Sitecore Identity Provider was implemented based on IdentityServer4 framework. IdentityServer4 doesn’t dictate how authentication to be done or what application can use the identity provider. It’s up to the implementer to decide that. In previous blog article, we discussed how a third party application can authenticate using Sitecore Identity Provider. In this blog we will look at the other side of Sitecore Identity. We know that Sitecore Identity authenticates users using the membership provider, but Sitecore Identity can delegate the authentication to other identity provider too. In fact Sitecore Identity comes with inbuilt AzureAd subprovider. If you enable it you should be able to authenticate against the Azure Active Directory. I added the following updated diagram to show how subprovider fits into the architecture.
Configuring Azure Ad Subprovider
Sitecore provided some documentation about how to configure out of the box Azure Ad subprovider. It’s not in very detail and it takes some effort to configure it. I was going to write about it, but I had a problem setting it up end to end. So, I posted this question in Stack Exchange and through that I found this excellent blog post which explains everything in detail. I am skipping that part. I captured the following animation to show you how authentication happens once you setup Azure Ad subprovider.
If you setup the loginpage attribute of the shell site in Sitecore.Owin.Authentication.IdentityServer.config as
$(loginPath)shell/SitecoreIdentityServer/IdS4-AzureAd, Sitecore will skip Sitecore Identity Provider and use Azure Ad provider directly to authenticate.
Custom External Subprovider
Let’s write some code to implement a custom subprovider. I will be utilizing IdentityServer Demo site https://demo.identityserver.io/ to create our subprovider. The reason to use IdentityServer Demo is, it is simple and no configuration is needed on the IdentityServer side. If you go to that site, you will find several grant types. The one we will be using is Implicit grant type and the ClientId for that is ‘implicit’. Our subprovider will be using this ClientId to get access to the IdentityServer identity provider.
Sitecore Identity is a Sitecore Host application. Sitecore Host is a new framework introduced in Sitecore 9.1 that you can use to create Sitecore Services. The benefit of creating services using Sitecore Host is that, you get all the common features of Sitecore Host, like logging, Dependency Injection etc. right out off the bat. The subprovider we will be creating is a Sitecore Host plugin and since Sitecore Host supports dynamic plugin loading, our plugin will be loaded as soon as we drop the plugin the ‘sitecoreruntime’ folder under Sitecore Identity root folder.
You can find the plugin project in the github repo. It’s name is
Sitecore.Plugin.IdentityProvider.Ids4Demo. Here are the important code snippets.
The Sitecore.Plugin.IdentityProvider.Ids4Demo.xml contains the configuration of the subprovider. The <Enabled> property should be true to make the subprovider available to Sitecore Identity. <AuthenticationSchema> is to identify the subprovider and it is used along with the IdentityProvider name in Sitecore to configure which subprovider to be used for different site. <ClientId> contains the Id to be used to connect to IdentityServer demo provider. <DisplayName> is button caption that will be used in the Sitecore Identity login page for this subprovider.<ClaimsTranformations> are used to translate claims from the subprovider to Sitecore Identity claims.
ConfigureSitecore class adds the subprovider in the services collection with appropriate option. In our case the code adds Authority as IdentityServer demo provider and also indicates that it is an external Identity Server to be used for sign in.
Copy the code as shown the following directory structure under the Sitecore Identity root folder.
Launch Sitecore shell site. As you are redirected to Sitecore Identity site you should see new login button in the site for the new subprovider as shown in the below picture.
Click on the new subprovider button, it should take you to IdentityServer demo provider for authentication. Enter username bob and password bob, you will be signed and redirected to Sitecore Identity provider. It works like below.
Unfortunately, at this point, when website is redirected to Sitecore Identity, it is throwing a server error. The log shows the following error, ‘ The payload was invalid’.
System.Security.Cryptography.CryptographicException: The payload was invalid. at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.Cng.CbcAuthenticatedEncryptor.DecryptImpl(Byte* pbCiphertext, UInt32 cbCiphertext, Byte* pbAdditionalAuthenticatedData, UInt32 cbAdditionalAuthenticatedData) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.Cng.Internal.CngAuthenticatedEncryptorBase.Decrypt(ArraySegment`1 ciphertext, ArraySegment`1 additionalAuthenticatedData) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.KeyManagement.KeyRingBasedDataProtector.UnprotectCore(Byte protectedData, Boolean allowOperationsOnRevokedKeys, UnprotectStatus& status) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.KeyManagement.KeyRingBasedDataProtector.DangerousUnprotect(Byte protectedData, Boolean ignoreRevocationErrors, Boolean& requiresMigration, Boolean& wasRevoked) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.KeyManagement.KeyRingBasedDataProtector.Unprotect(Byte protectedData) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.DataProtection.DataProtectionCommonExtensions.Unprotect(IDataProtector protector, String protectedData) at IdentityServer4.Infrastructure.DistributedCacheStateDataFormatter.Unprotect(String protectedText, String purpose) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.Authentication.OpenIdConnect.OpenIdConnectHandler.ReadPropertiesAndClearState(OpenIdConnectMessage message) at Microsoft.AspNetCore.Authentication.OpenIdConnect.OpenIdConnectHandler.HandleRemoteAuthenticateAsync()
I couldn’t get to the bottom of this problem. I checked the id_token and payload looks valid. So, I opened a support ticket with Sitecore. I have to wait until Sitecore provides me an explanation of why the error is happening for other Identity Providers, but not for Azure Ad. Same problem is happening with Okta too.
I decided to publish this blog before the issue is solved because, I don’t see any problem with the approach. As soon as I get a resolution, I will update the blog. Finger crossed.
- Sitecore Identity Federation Gateway
- Sitecore Host
- Setting Up Azure Active Directory Integration with Sitecore Identity Server / Sitecore 9.1
- Github Repo