Security is always in the top priority and objective whenever a company starts developing an application with any technology.
And same is the scenario with ASP.NET Core development. Some of the primary goals of data security are ensuring data integrity and allowing only valid users to utilize the assets. Further, to accomplish this objective, the most effective technique is to perform authentication.
ASP.NET Core offers various in-built approaches to implementing authentication, leading to preventing unauthorized clients.
By reading further, you can clear all your doubts and understand the top classifications of ASP.NET Core authentication. Moreover, you will know the significant elements functioning to validate every account.
What does authentication mean, and Why is it essential in ASP.NEt Core Development?
Authentication is a security operation that aims to verify a person’s identity, computer system, or mobile device. It works in collaboration with authorization, which aims to confirm whether a user has relevant permission to access specific files or not.
It ensures that only legitimate people access the resources, and others get denied. The authentication and authorization function is closely under the Identity Management approach, whose primary aim is to validate the user through these mechanisms.
If we simplify it more, Authentication asks whether the user is the right person or not, and authorization asks whether the user has permission to access the file. And Identity Management is the main component that asks these questions to each user.
There are various authentication methods available under Identity management. However, local authentication is the most common among them. It requires a username and password for verifying the identity, and it comes as a built-in module in ASP.NET, which doesn’t require any external element to get configured.
Besides this, it has the disadvantage of storing user credentials in a centralized database, which disables utilizing the same authentication for multiple services. But, you don’t have to worry, as you can fix it by implementing a decentralized authentication system, which seamlessly works for different applications and services.
Furthermore, Windows and Form Authentication are the two extended versions of the local authentication system. And the .NET developers prefer these two for configuring the de-centralized authentication.
In implementing the Centralized Identity Management, engineers have to follow and comply with the app with a set of defined standards. As a result, the system becomes capable of verifying the end-user and providing only relevant access to resources. This procedure is also known as the Single Sign-On or the SSO.
Besides this, Microsoft also offers a Passport Authentication and reliably working centralized authentication to tighten the app security. The most common authentication example is logging into your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook account.
The application asks for your username and password whenever you try to access your mail account. If the credentials are correct, then only you get logged in. Moreover, the mailing system will deal with you as a valid user and provides all the necessary controls.
When you are developing an ASP.NET application, authentication plays an important role.
The first line of defense is to permit only recognized users to prevent cyber-attacks and malicious activities across business apps. It aids in maintaining the app performance and user data security and builds customer relationships.
Primary Authentication Mechanisms used for ASP.NET Core Apps
It is an operating system-based authentication mechanism linked with ASP.NET Core applications for verifying the user identity.
Primarily, large enterprises prefer it for maintaining the security of their intra-network, inclusive of a Microsoft Windows Active Directory Server. Under this authentication mechanism, all the hosts available in the network have to authenticate themselves before utilizing the ASP.NET application.
For seamlessly configuring Windows Authentication functionality, you must host your app only on the following servers:
- IIS (Internet Information Service)
ASP.NET Core can disallow Windows authentication by default if you use any other server. In addition, to avail of the best-in-class benefits of this functionality, all the apps and systems must be in the same domain.
Authenticating users through login forms is the most basic, standard, and widespread security strategy.
Nowadays, every website, web app, and mobile app provides a form for inputting usernames and passwords before accessing the resources. And same is the case with ASP.NET Core apps.
It allows the creation of a login and sign-up page for registering new users and verifying the current end-users.
When you sign up using the form, it stores your username and password details in a database. All the information gets stored after performing hashing and salting on it. It helps to maintain data integrity and confidentiality.
Further, when the user tries to sing-in, the application checks the credentials with the parameters available in the database. If both the strings match each other, access gets granted; otherwise denied.
For implementing the form authentication in ASP.NET Core software, you have to change the mode to form and set authorization as provided below:
<forms loginUrl=”login.aspx” />
<deny users=”?” />
Passport Authentication is an advanced system allowing users to login into different web apps and services without inputting credentials at each platform.
To strengthen this approach, Microsoft extends its functionality by adding its secure sign-in function. It provides the same security assurance as the Secure Socket Layer to protect confidential data.
When passport authentication is enabled, all the user details get stored in an encrypted cookie, which authenticates the user on different websites. In case of the cookie doesn’t work, the user gets redirected to the passport server. After completing the login formalities, the person automatically navigates to the website.
The Fundamental Components of ASP.NET Core Authentication
In ASP.NET Core applications, the Authentication handler is the primary component that manages the core operations for validating the user’s identity. It leads to configuring the behavior of the Authentication scheme.
Its works based on end-user login requests and the policies implemented by the developer to assure user legitimacy.
Whenever a person tries to log in, Handler creates a ticket for it and uses it throughout the process. If the request is well-founded, authentication gets successful. Otherwise, the user returns to the login page, or no result string is displayed.
In addition, it has in-built mechanisms for forbidding and challenging the resource access instruction from the user. It assures to offer access to only authenticated users.
If the person cannot log in, the .NET Core app forbids its access or executes the challenge module for re-authenticating themselves.
To configure the Authentication Handler, you must add the following code structure to the startup.cs file:
public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
Once you add the above-illustrated code, your application will start using the Cookie and JWT Authentication handler system.
In addition, you can extend the functionalities of these two handler options by using the following code.
For Cookie Authentication Handler:
.AddCookie(“Cookies”, options =>
options.LoginPath = “/Account/Login”;
options.LogoutPath = “/Account/Logout”;
options.AccessDeniedPath = “/Account/AccessDenied”;
options.ReturnUrlParameter = “ReturnUrl”;
For JWT Bearer Authentication Handler:
x.RequireHttpsMetadata = true;
x.SaveToken = true;
x.TokenValidationParameters = new TokenValidationParameters
ValidateIssuer = true,
ValidIssuer = jwtTokenConfig.Issuer,
ValidateAudience = true,
ValidAudience = jwtTokenConfig.Audience,
ValidateIssuerSigningKey = true,
RequireExpirationTime = false,
ValidateLifetime = true,
ClockSkew = TimeSpan.Zero,
IssuerSigningKey = new SymmetricSecurityKey(Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes(jwtTokenConfig.Secret))
After defining all the crucial parameters, you can assure that your app prevents unauthenticated users from accessing and utilizing resources.
It is known as the Authentication Scheme when you define an Authentication Handler option under the AddAuthentication() method.
For example: When you configure Authentication Handler in the startup file and add JWT Bearer and Cookie modules inside it.
As a result, .AddJwtBearer() and .AddCookie() are Authentication scheme.
In ASP.NET Core development, every scheme has a unique name and consists of a handler. Moreover, it leverages engineers to define every scheme parameter according to business requirements.
Moreover, every handler has its name by default, but you can modify it for comfort and readability purposes. Whether it’s Cookie or JWT Bearer, it simultaneously provides their default settings in the classes CookieAuthenticationDeafults and JwtBearerDeafults.
After accessing these classes, you can change the values and implement code per your project goal.
Further, for defining the custom scheme name, you can follow the below-provided syntax:
The above code will set the name of schemes to Bearer, Cookies, and Cookies2. You must be wondering, if only two Authentication handler options are available, then how are there three in this code. Let’s clarify it.
ASP.NET Core allows its users to add multiple Authentication schemes. The only term is to set different names for each Authentication scheme, which helps the app quickly differentiate and execute them.
Allowing only registered and valid users to access the app resources is a crucial objective of ASP.NET Core development. And for achieving it, authentication is a necessary mechanism that every developer must enable.
Most the company and security experts prefer Windows, Passport, and Form Authentication, as it aids developers and end-users. Each approach saves the client’s time and maintains security according to defined standards.
In addition, ASP.NET Core authentication gets managed through two major components: Authentication Handler and Authentication Scheme.
Only a few ASP.NET developers are well-versed with theoretical and practical knowledge of authentication, and those are not easy to find. However, Positiwise Software makes your search easy by providing a world-class team of ASP.NET developers, experienced in creating secure, high-performing, and reliable applications.