What is OpenID Connect?

What is OpenID Connect?

OpenID Connect is an authentication protocol that allows clients to verify a user's identity and get basic profile information. Here are some key things to know about OpenID Connect:

  • It is built on top of OAuth 2.0, which is an authorization framework. OAuth allows access to protected resources, OpenID Connect adds identity verification.
  • It uses REST-like APIs and JSON for data exchange.
  • It relies on HTTPS and TLS for security.
  • The identity verification process involves sending a request to an OpenID provider (like Google, Facebook, etc) which authenticates the user and sends back an ID token containing verified identity claims.
  • The ID token is a JSON Web Token (JWT) that contains things like issuer, subject, audience, expiration time, etc.
  • It enables single sign-on (SSO) by allowing logins via external providers rather than separate usernames/passwords for individual sites.
  • In addition to basic profile info, it can provide additional user claims through scopes.
  • It follows a discoverable model where the client is able to query the provider's metadata to determine configuration details.

OpenID Connect provides a standardized way to perform identity verification and authentication using OAuth and JWTs. It enables SSO and integration with major identity providers.

What is the difference between SAML and OpenID Connect?

The main differences between SAML and OpenID Connect are:

  • Protocol: SAML is an XML-based protocol, while OpenID Connect uses simpler JSON/REST.
  • Flow: SAML uses redirects, OpenID Connect allows both redirects and popups.
  • Scope: SAML is mainly for web SSO, OpenID Connect can be used for web, mobile, APIs, etc.
  • Adoption: SAML has been around longer and has wider adoption, OpenID Connect is newer but gaining popularity.
  • Standard: SAML is an open standard, OpenID Connect is controlled by the OpenID Foundation.
  • Claims: SAML assertions contain basic identity info, OpenID Connect allows extensible identity claims.
  • Cryptography: SAML uses XML signatures, OpenID Connect uses JSON Web Tokens with JSON Web Signatures.
  • Integration: SAML integrates via federated identity, OpenID Connect integrates with OAuth authorization.
  • Setup: SAML has complex configuration for federations, OpenID Connect configuration is simpler.

In summary, SAML is the older XML-based web SSO standard while OpenID Connect is the newer JSON-based approach for web, mobile and APIs with easier integration. OpenID Connect builds on OAuth 2.0 and provides extensibility. Overall, OpenID Connect aims to be a simpler standards-based approach to identity.

What type of authentication is OpenID Connect?

OpenID Connect is a federated identity authentication protocol that utilizes OAuth 2.0 for authorization.

Specifically, OpenID Connect provides the following types of authentication:

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) Authentication: Allows users to log in once and access multiple sites/apps without re-authenticating.
  • Delegated Authentication: Outsources the authentication process to an external trusted identity provider like Google or Facebook.
  • Standardized Identity Claims: Provides verified identity claims about the user in a JSON Web Token (JWT).
  • Discovery-Based Configuration: Allows clients to discover necessary configuration details from the identity provider.

So in summary:

  • Mechanism: It is a federated SSO delegated authentication protocol.
  • Architecture: It separates the roles of Relying Party (client) and OpenID Provider (identity/claims source).
  • Process: Leverages OAuth 2.0 for the authorization flow and tokens.
  • Standard: It is an open standard managed by the OpenID Foundation.

Therefore, OpenID Connect provides standards-based federated identity authentication utilizing OAuth authorization and JWT tokens. The key aspects are SSO, delegation, standardized claims, and discoverability.

What is the disadvantage of OpenID?

Here are some potential disadvantages or drawbacks of using OpenID:

  • Reliance on third-party identity providers: You are dependent on an external party like Google or Facebook for authentication. If they have an outage, your authentication will be impacted.
  • Vendor lock-in: Once you integrate with a specific OpenID provider, switching can be difficult and costly.
  • Limited control: You have less control compared to managing your own user credentials and authentication.
  • Security risks: Any vulnerabilities in the identity provider could compromise your application's security.
  • Privacy risks: User data is shared with third parties, which raises privacy concerns.
  • Complex standards: OpenID Connect has a complex set of standards and specifications that can be difficult to implement fully.
  • Cost: Some identity providers charge fees for OpenID services beyond a certain usage tier.
  • User experience: Being redirected to an external site for login can provide a disjointed UX compared to local authentication flows.
  • Discovery and configuration: Setting up OpenID requires configuring redirect URIs and testing discovery/validation steps.
  • Token validation: Validating JSON Web Tokens from providers requires coding effort and key management.
  • Limited claims: The identity claims provided may not contain all attributes your application needs about users.

So in summary, the main disadvantages are dependence on external providers, loss of control/customization, added complexity, and potential security/privacy risks. The tradeoff is ease of integration versus reduced autonomy.