Skip to content

Add app-native authentication

In traditional applications, login is usually fulfilled by a web browser. This means that the users who attempt to log in to these applications are redirected to a web browser for authentication. This is not ideal if your goal is to provide the user with a seamless login experience or if you have a business need to keep users within the application's environment.

App-Native Authentication takes an API-based approach to let developers implement a secure login experience directly within the application along with features such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), adaptive authentication, and support for federated logins. This means users will have a seamless login experience from right within the application without the need for redirection.

Limitations of App-Native Authentication

  • At the time of login, app-native authentication,

    • does not prompt the user to provide missing mandatory attributes.
    • does not prompt the user for consent to share attributes with the application.
    • does not support prompts in adaptive authentication flows.
    • does not facilitate enrolling authenticators (e.g. TOTP authenticator).
    • only supports silent JIT provisioning.
  • App-native authentication does not support all authentication methods. If you have an unsupported option configured, the login flow will not be initiated.

How it works

The following diagram illustrates the high-level steps involved with app-native authentication.

app-native-authentication-sequence

  1. User initiates a login request at the application's login page.
  2. The application initiates an app-native authentication request with the server. The initial request made by the application is similar to an OAuth 2.0 authorization code request but with the response_mode set to direct as shown below.

    curl --location 'https://localhost:9443/oauth2/authorize/'
    --header 'Accept: application/json'
    --header 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded'
    --data-urlencode 'client_id=<client_id>'
    --data-urlencode 'response_type=<response_type>'
    --data-urlencode 'redirect_uri=<redircet_url>'
    --data-urlencode 'state=<state>'
    --data-urlencode 'scope=<space separated scopes>'
    --data-urlencode 'response_mode=direct'
    
    curl --location 'https://localhost:9443/oauth2/authorize/'
    --header 'Accept: application/json'
    --header 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded'
    --data-urlencode 'client_id=VTs12Ie26wb8HebnWercWZiAhMMa'
    --data-urlencode 'response_type=code'
    --data-urlencode 'redirect_uri=https://example-app.com/redirect'
    --data-urlencode 'state=logpg'
    --data-urlencode 'scope=openid internal_login'
    --data-urlencode 'response_mode=direct'
    
  3. The server responds with instructions for the next step of the authentication.

  4. The application displays the available authentication options to the user and prompts the user to enter the credentials.
  5. User interacts with the application and enters the credentials for a selected authentication option.
  6. The application gathers the credentials and sends an authentication request back to the server using the Authentication API.

    Info

    Steps 3-6 repeat for all authentication steps configured for the application.

    What is the Authentication API?

    • The Authentication API is an interactive, stateful API that facilitates a multi-step authentication flow. See its OpenAPI definition for more details.
    • While app-native authentication is initiated at the /authorize endpoint, the authentication API fulfills the actual authentication for each step by interacting with the /authn endpoint.
  7. After the authentication is complete, the application receives an OAuth2 authorization code in the response.

Learn more

While this section provides a brief overview, it is highly recommended to read through app-native authentication to understand the concept in detail.

Try it out

Follow the steps below to try out App-Native Authentication with WSO2 Identity Server.

Attention

App-native authentication should be limited exclusively to an organization's internal applications. AVOID using it with third-party applications to mitigate the risk of credential exposure.

Prerequisites

Enable App-Native Authentication

Follow the steps below to enable app-native authentication for your application.

  1. On WSO2 Identity Server Console, go to Applications.

  2. Go to the Protocol tab and select Code from Allowed grant types.

  3. Click Update to save the changes.

  4. Go to the Advanced tab of your application and select Enable app-native authentication API.

    Enable app-native authentication

  5. Click Update to save the changes.

  6. Go to the Login flow tab and configure a login flow with the supported authentication options.

    Finding supported authentication options in the login flow

    Supported authentication options are tagged with #APIAuth.

    Supported authentication options

  7. Click Update to save the changes.

  8. Try out App-Native Authentication using Postman.

    Run in Postman

    Note

    Learn more about the API calls in App-native authentication.

What's next?