Password fatigue is something we’ve all experienced at some point. Whether it’s due to breaches and the ever present, ‘update password’ warnings, the corporate policy of a 90-day rotation or simply registering for a website with yet another unique username and password. Social login or social sign-in allows people to use their existing Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social credentials to enter a web property, rather than creating a whole new account for the site. These can be used to authenticate, verify identity or to allow posting of content to social networks and the main advantage is convenience and speed.
Let's look at BIG-IP’s capabilities (from the user's perspective) as an OAuth Client, OAuth Resource Server. We’ll navigate to our BIG-IP login screen and immediately you’ll notice it looks slightly different than your typical APM login.
Here, you now have a choice and can authenticate using any one of the 4 external resources. Azure AD Enterprise and AD B2C along with Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook are very popular social login choices - as shown in the initial image above - where organizations are looking to authenticate the users and allow them to authorize the sharing of information that Google and Facebook already have, with the application.
In this case, we have an application behind BIG-IP that is relying on getting such information from an external third party. For this, we’ll select Facebook. When we click logon, BIG-IP will redirect to the Facebook log into screen.
Now we’ll need to log into Facebook using our own personal information. And with that, Facebook has authenticated us and has sent BIG-IP critical info like name, email and other parameters.
BIG-IP has accepted the OAuth token passed to it from Facebook, extracted the info from the OAuth scope and now the application knows my identity and what resources I’m authorized to access.
We can do the same with Google. Select the option, click logon and here we’re redirected to the Google authentication page. Here again, we enter our personal credentials and arrive at the same work top.
Like Facebook, Google sent an authorization code to BIG-IP, BIG-IP validated it, extracted the username from the OAuth scope, passed it to the backend application so the application knows who I am and what I can access.
Let's look at Microsoft. For Microsoft, we can authenticate using a couple editions of Azure AD – Enterprise and B2C. Let’s see how Enterprise works. Like the others, we get redirected to Microsoftonline.com to enter our MS Enterprise credentials.
In this instance, we’re using an account that’s been Federated to Azure AD from another BIG-IP and we’ll authenticate to that BIG-IP. At this point that BIG-IP will issue a SAML assertion to Azure AD to authenticate me to Azure AD. After that, Azure AD will issue an OAuth token to that BIG-IP. BIG-IP will accept it, extract the user information and pass it to the application.
Finally, let’s see how Azure AD B2C works. B2C is something that companies can use to store their non-corporate user base. Folks like partners, suppliers, contractors, etc. B2C allows users to maintain their own accounts and personal information. In addition, they can login using a typical Microsoft account or a Google account. In this case, we’ll simply use a Microsoft account and are directed to the Microsoft authentication page.
We’ll enter our personal info, the servers communicate and we’re dropped into our WebTop of resources.
Social logins can not only help enterprises offer access to certain resources, it also improves the overall customer experience with speed and convenience and allows organizations to capture essential information about their online customers.