How-tos

Client Secrets Management

Learn how Cloudentity allows you to manage your clients secrets. Find out what client secrets are and how the management of secrets can affect your system security.

Client Secrets in a Nutshell

Client secrets are a crucial part of the client application credentials. It is a secret known only to Cloudentity and the client application. They are used, for example, along with the client identifier, to provide client credentials to authenticate the application to Cloudentity in order to get an access token.

Client Secrets in Depth

To illustrate what client secrets are and why they are used, lets look at the following example. A client application is registered in Cloudentity. It has its credentials defined and in place. The application wants to access the APIs of another web application in a machine-to-machine environment. The application is configured to use the client credentials OAuth grant flow. To get a token, the client application presents its credentials - a client identifier and a client secret. Cloudentity verifies if the credentials from the request match the credentials of the registered client application to prevent the situation that an unauthorized malicious application would get an access token by, for example, impersonating other client application.

[mermaid-begin]
sequenceDiagram participant Client application participant Cloudentity participant API Client application->>Cloudentity: Request token with client identifier + client secret Cloudentity->>Cloudentity: Verify client credentials Cloudentity->>Client application: Token Client application->>API: Call API with token API->>Client application: Return data

Security considerations

It is crucial for client secrets to store and manage them secure enough to prevent unauthorized access to APIs, because they are used to get access tokens that allow applications to access APIs. Client secrets must be sufficiently random so they cannot be guessed. They should not be stored in distributed native applications and single-page JavaScript applications (as they can be decompiled and the client secret may become exposed).

As client secrets may become exposed, it is a good practice to keep them short-lived. Cloudentity makes it possible to rotate client secrets.

To store secrets in a safer manner, Cloudentity gives you a possibility to store client secrets as a one way hash.

Client Secret Rotation

With Cloudentity you can rotate client secrets by using one of the following ways:

Remember

Rotating and revoking client secrets is permanent and it cannot be undone.

When you rotate a secret, a new secret is created for your application and the previous one is added to the list of rotated client secrets. Such a list can store only one rotated client secret (by default). If the list already contains a client secret when you rotate secrets, the previous rotated client secret is revoked and the new rotated client secret is added.

Note

For on-premise deployments, it is possible to configure how many rotated client secrets are stored. To change it, provide the number of your choice as the value for the max_number_of_client_rotated_secrets limit in your Cloudentity configuration file (config/config.yaml).

Rotated client secrets are still active and valid. If you wish, you can revoke them. Revoking a secret means that it is not possible to use them anymore. The developer must update the client secret in the application before the application can access the APIs. You can revoke all rotated secrets either in the Viev previously used secrets modal in your application settings or by using the Cloudentity revoke client secrets Admin API.

Rotate Client Secrets Using API

Prerequisites

Use Cloudentity API to Rotate Secret

  1. In your terminal, enter the request to the rotate client secret endpoint with the parameters and the headers properly configured. Execute it.

    curl --location --request POST 'https://{tid}.authz.cloudentity.io/api/admin/{tid}/clients/{cid}/rotateSecret' \
     --header "Authorization: Bearer $AT"
    

    Tip

    The {tid} parameter is for your tenant identifier. You can find it right at the beginning of your Cloudentity URL.

    The {cid} parameter is for your client application identifier. You can find it in your application settings.

    Replace the $AT environment variable with your access token.

    Result

    As the result of your request:

    1. A new secret is generated for your application.

    2. Previous secret is moved to the rotated client secrets list. If there is an already rotated client secret stored in the list, it is revoked.

    3. New secret is added to your application.

    4. You receive the new secret as the response in the terminal.

One-way Hash Secrets

One-way hashing of client secrets provides additional security when it comes to storage of the secrets. Hashing a secret hides the plaintext OAuth credential value and makes it impossible to be read both in the interface and the database.

Difference between plaintext and hashed secrets

In Cloudentity, client secrets are hashed using the SHA256 algorithm. There are only two situations when the client secret can be read:

  • During the creation of a client (either in the UI or in the request response if using API)

  • When you rotate a secret (either in the UI or in the request response if using API)

Tip

If you are using UI, for both cases you are reminded to either copy or download your client secret, as you won’t be able to view it again.

One-way hashing is currently available only for the customers who deploy their Cloudentity on premise. To enable one-way hashing of client secrets, you need to set the client_secrets_stored_as_one_way_hash feature flag to true in your Cloudentity configuration settings.

On-way Hashing Impact on Cloudentity Authorizers

Every time you create an authorizer, a corresponding client application is created for your authorizer in your System workspace. For multi-tenant authorizers, it is created within the system tenant’s System workspace. For single-tenant authorizers, the client is created within the system workspace for your tenant.

When you are using one-way hashing for secrets:

  • It is not possible to display a plaintext secret for your authorizer’s client application

  • The logic responsible for generating the configuration for your authorizer is not able to fetch the secret, as it is hashed. For example, if you are using Istio Authorizer, your configuration file would look like the following:

    resources:
    - manifest.yaml
    secretGenerator:
    - name: istio-authorizer-secrets
      namespace: acp-system
      literals:
      - CLIENT_ID=c5fk2d1ngvl012k9noog
      - CLIENT_SECRET=
    

To be able to configure your authorizers and enable them to enforce access control, you must rotate the client secret for your authorizer’s client application. Then, copy/download the secret and use it in your authorizer’s configuration.

Updated: Oct 26, 2022