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Securing Microservices with OAuth2

Secured Order Management System with OAuth2

This article explains how to secure your microservices deployment practically with OAuth2 using Ballerina programming language. Ballerina has first-class support for a whole bunch of security features from transport layer security like SSL/TLS, mTLS to application layer security like Basic Authentication (Basic Auth), JWT Authentication, OAuth2, etc. Let’s see how we can apply OAuth2 for microservices deployment.

Ballerina is an open-source programming language for the cloud that makes it easier to use, combine, and create network services.
Source: https://ballerina.io

For the simplicity of this article, let’s consider a hypothetical order management system application, which has microservices and components programmed with Ballerina. Let’s see how to design, implement, test, deploy and observe the system.

NOTE: For this guide, since we are discussing the OAuth2 security aspects, we are focussing only a part of the system. The complete example can be found at:

NOTE: All the Ballerina code samples in this article are tested and compatible with Ballerina 2201.0.0 (Swan Lake)

Design

The following figure illustrates a high-level design diagram of the complete use case.

Figure 1 — High-level design diagram of order management system

The end-user (customer), in this example, Alice and Bob, interacts with the system using the web/mobile app provided. This web/mobile app acts as a Client on behalf of the user’s actions and calls to the API Gateway. The API Gateway routes the requests to Order Service, which is responsible for processing the order for the customer. The Inventory Service is called by the Order Service to process the inventory-related operations.

NOTE: For this guide, since we are discussing the OAuth2 security aspects, we are focussing on the network interactions until the API Gateway validates a request.

Scenario 1 — Web App

  • The end-user Alice wants to retrieve her order details using the web app.
  • First, she signs in to the application with her credentials (username and password).
  • Now the web app needs to invoke an API on behalf of the logged-in end-user Alice. It talks to the OAuth Authorization Server, trusted by the API, and uses the client credentials grant type, to get an access token.
  • Now the web app invokes the API with the access token.
  • The API Gateway intercepts the request from the end-user, extracts the token, and then talks to the OAuth Authorization Server connected to validate the token.

Scenario 2 — Mobile App

  • The end-user Bob wants to retrieve her order details using the web app.
  • The end-user Bob sign-in to the mobile app using the single sign-on (SSO) feature provided.
  • The end-user gets redirected to the OpenID Connect (OIDC) server and authenticates against the user-store or active-directory connected to it. After the authentication, the end-user gets redirected back to the mobile app, with an authorization code (assuming that we are using OAuth 2.0 authorization code grant type).
  • The mobile app talks directly to the OpenID Connect (OIDC) server and exchanges the authorization code from the previous step to an ID token, and an access token. The ID token itself is a JWT, which is signed by the OpenID Connect (OIDC) server.
  • Now the mobile app needs to invoke an API on behalf of the logged-in end-user Bob. It talks to the OAuth Authorization Server, trusted by the API, and using the JWT grant type, exchanges the received JWT (ID token) to an access token. The OAuth Authorization Server validates the JWT and makes sure that it’s being signed by a trusted identity provider. In this case, the OAuth Authorization Server trusts the OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity provider.
  • Now the mobile app invokes the API with the access token.
  • The API Gateway intercepts the request from the end-user, extracts the token, and then talks to the OAuth Authorization Server connected to validate the token.

Implementation

NOTE: To get started with the implementation we need to have the web/mobile app to be ready. But, since we are discussing the OAuth2 security aspects by this guide, the frontend implementation of the web/mobile app is not explained. We will be using Ballerina as the app backend of both web/mobile app (hereinafter referred to as Web Client Backend and Mobile Client Backend).

  • Now, we can get started with the Web Client Backend, which is responsible to invoke an API on behalf of the logged-in end-user. It talks to the OAuth Authorization Server, trusted by the API, and uses the client credentials grant type, to get an access token.
  • The client authentication is enabled by setting the auth client configuration of the Ballerina HTTP client. It is configured with the client credentials grant configurations so that the Ballerina HTTP client knows how to get the access token and proceed with the actual API call. Refer to examples/order-management-service/app_backend for the implementation.
  • Now, we can get started with the Mobile Client Backend, which is also responsible to invoke an API on behalf of the logged-in end-user. It talks to the OAuth Authorization Server, trusted by the API, and using the JWT grant type, exchanges the received JWT (ID token) to an access token. The OAuth Authorization Server validates the JWT and makes sure that it’s being signed by a trusted identity provider. In this case, the OAuth Authorization Server trusts the OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity provider.
  • The client authentication is enabled by setting the auth client configuration of the Ballerina HTTP client. It is configured with the JWT bearer grant configurations so that the Ballerina HTTP client knows how to get the access token and proceed with the actual API call. Refer to examples/order-management-service/app_backend for the implementation.
  • Now, we can get started with the API Gateway, which is responsible to authorize the requests using OAuth2 and forward the request to the actual microservice via mTLS (mutual TLS). In this scenario, it is Order Service. The API Gateway service is secured by setting the auth attribute of http:ServiceConfig with the OAuth2 introspection configurations, so that the Ballerina HTTP service knows how to validate the access token with the configured OAuth Authorization Server. Once validated, the business logic defined inside the resource will get executed. In this case, it will call the Order Service via mTLS and return the response to the Client.

NOTE: For the simplicity of the article, since we are interested only in OAuth2 security aspects the rest of the components like Order Service and Inventory Service is not implemented. But, to complete the story, we will be returning a successful mock response from the API Gateway.

Testing

We can run the API Gateway, Web Client Backend and Mobile Client Backend that we developed above, in our local environment. To complete the design diagram illustrated above, we have to run the OAuth Authorization Server first.

Open the terminal and execute the following command. This will take few seconds to start and run.

$ docker run -d -p 9443:9443 ldclakmal/wso2is-sts:latest

Now, navigate to examples/order-management-service/api_gateway directory and execute the following command.

$ bal run

The successful execution of the service should show us the following output.

Compiling source
oauth2/api_gateway:1.0.0

Running executable

Now, navigate to examples/order-management-service/app_backend directory and execute the same command. The successful execution of the service should show us the following output.

Compiling source
oauth2/app_backend:1.0.0

Running executable

Now, we can test authentication and authorization checks being enforced on different actions by sending HTTP requests. For example, we have used the CURL commands to test each scenario as follows.

Scenario 1 — Web App

$ curl -k -v “https://localhost:8080/order/web?orderId=100500"

Output:

< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< content-type: application/json
< content-length: 163
< server: ballerina
< date: Fri, 3 Sep 2021 10:35:37 +0530
{“id”:”100500", “name”:”Sample order”, “items”:[{“category”:”electronics”, “code”:”SOWH1000XM4", “qty”:2}, {“category”:”books”, “code”:”978–1617295959", “qty”:1}]}

Scenario 2 — Mobile App

Here, we need to export our ID Token, that the mobile client received for the OpenID Connect (OIDC) response from the OAuth Authorization Server.
Refer to WSO2 Identity Server Documentation — OpenID Connect for more information.

$ export ID_TOKEN=”eyJhbGciOiJSUzI1NiIsICJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCAia2lkIjoiTXpZeE1tRmtPR1l3TVdJMFpXTm1ORGN4TkdZd1ltTTRaVEEzTVdJMk5EQXpaR1F6TkdNMFpHIn0.eyJpc3MiOiJodHRwczovL2xvY2FsaG9zdDo5NDQzL29hdXRoMi90b2tlbiIsICJzdWIiOiJhZG1pbiIsICJhdWQiOiJodHRwczovL2xvY2FsaG9zdDo5NDQzL29hdXRoMi90b2tlbiIsICJleHAiOjE5NDQ0NzI2MjksICJuYmYiOjE2MjkxMTI2MjksICJpYXQiOjE2MjkxMTI2Mjl9.Qbi5kElPZlyViUUuYW9Ik4nXSeTIroacEDs4BoI0rAGAOBXfyWLW4Yxm6hAlb4GXtkPZ4YMO8c0mUgdXgvPVFqFYJuINNPu6Y_nExahAVD0VxCYRE59lEjRv7t_gqn5OxSu_jTGcgcHH8_j-tvL_-AHaqgflr5UljbTPtnQyXtLaPNeu3r7FoWs-LrewMPIm1aw5qc2gI2iYwI1jfIdpNlEjU6r_Mg6ou2D2AGqJa0QYN1FMqi4YJt2jHr60tQMQIWJ7zhKU4ShZESxYOVKK_cBOeL6K-A07pNEZYaSxtCU3609MIZ8EOUJuQUJb7zHHxG4QziHM8eBwFo26yovBFw”;$ curl -k -v “https://localhost:8080/order/mobile?orderId=100500&idToken=$ID_TOKEN"

Output:

< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< content-type: application/json
< content-length: 163
< server: ballerina
< date: Fri, 3 Sep 2021 10:35:37 +0530
{“id”:”100500", “name”:”Sample order”, “items”:[{“category”:”electronics”, “code”:”SOWH1000XM4", “qty”:2}, {“category”:”books”, “code”:”978–1617295959", “qty”:1}]}

Deployment

Once we are done with the development, we can deploy the service using any of the methods that are listed below.

Deploying Locally

As the first step, we have to run the ‘OAuth Authorization Server’ first. Open the terminal and execute the following command. This will take few seconds to start and run.

$ docker run -d -p 9443:9443 ldclakmal/wso2is-sts:latest

Now, we can build Ballerina executable files (.jar) of the components that we developed above. Open the terminal and navigate to examples/order-management-service/api_gateway, and examples/order-management-service/app_backend directories, and execute the following command for
each of them.

$ bal build

The successful execution of the above command should show us the following outputs in order.

Compiling source
oauth2/api_gateway:1.0.0
Generating executable
target/bin/api_gateway.jar

Compiling source
oauth2/app_backend:1.0.0
Generating executable
target/bin/app_backend.jar

Once the *.jar files are created inside the target/bin directories, we can run the components with the following commands in order.

$ bal run target/bin/api_gateway.jar
$ bal run target/bin/app_backend.jar

Deploying Code to Cloud

Ballerina code to cloud supports generating the deployment artifacts of the Docker and Kubernetes. Refer to Code to Cloud guide for more information.

Observability

HTTP/HTTPS based Ballerina services and any client connectors are observable by default. Observing Ballerina Code guide provides information on enabling Ballerina service observability with some of its supported systems.

Summary

In this article we focussed how to secure your microservices deployment practically with OAuth2 using Ballerina programming language. The complete example can be found at:

Also, there is no such thing as absolute security. Everything depends on your use case and the level of trust you have in your microservices deployment.

Happy coding with Ballerina!

References:

  1. Microservices Security in Action by Prabath Siriwardena and Nuwan Dias
    https://www.manning.com/books/microservices-security-in-action
  2. Microservices Security with Ballerina
    https://medium.com/@ldclakmal/microservices-security-with-ballerina-e9d430f05373
  3. Ballerina by examples
    https://ballerina.io/learn/by-example/
  4. Ballerina Security by Chanaka Lakmal
    https://ldclakmal.me/ballerina-security/

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Chanaka Lakmal

Chanaka Lakmal

Associate Technical Lead @ WSO2 | B.Sc. Computer Science Engineering (First Class Hons.) | Tech Enthusiast | Researcher | Love IAM & Security Space

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