Monday, September 25, 2017

ADFS : Pre-populating the user on the login screen

This question often comes up and I came across a site that does this.

Note this is with ADFS 4.0 (Server 2016).

The URL is:


The ADFS login screen then looks like:


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ADFS : RP default token lifetime

This question keeps coming up.

The default value for TokenLifetime on a RP trust is 0. But what value is 0?

As usual, a heap of garbage via Google.

60 minutes, 300 minutes, 600 minutes, 10 hours ...

Using ADFS 4.0 and looking at a SAML RP, we get:

Conditions        NotBefore="2017-09-12T19:24:01.817Z"

So the correct answer is 1 hour = 60 minutes.

Note: Don't confuse this with the ADFS wide WebSSOLifetime. This is a server wide timeout parameter.

The default value for that = 8 hours = 480 minutes.


Friday, September 01, 2017

Azure B2C : Adding Azure Active Directory (AAD) via custom policies

As I write these are in preview.

The documentation is here.

The AAD guide is here.

And the obligatory warning:

"Custom policies are designed primarily for identity pros who need to address complex scenarios. For most scenarios, we recommend that you use Azure Active Directory B2C built-in policies. Built-in policies are easier to set up for your configuration. You can use built-in and custom policies in the same Azure Active Directory B2C tenant. To learn more, see the overview of custom policies."

and again:

"Custom policy editing is not for everyone. The learning curve is demanding, the startup time is longer, and future changes to custom policies will require similar expertise to maintain. Built-in policies should be carefully considered first for your scenario before using custom policies."

I don't necessarily agree with this and am somewhat puzzled as to why they push this so hard.

The aim should be to encourage people to have a crack at it and learn something rather than scare them away.

I would spend some time reading through the getting started guide and get an overview of how the XML files work, how to upload them etc.

The big drawback about all of these guides is that they publish snippets of XML and it's always hard to figure out the context i.e. where they go in the document and how they relate to the other sections.

So I decided to publish all five files as gists (suitably redacted!).

I have three add-ons:
  • Facebook - from the default policy 
  • ADFS - added but doesn't work because of the self-signed certificate
  • AAD - which works
Note that this was for a PoC where I was just looking at authentication. I haven't looked at the claims passed etc.

Also I did not have an actual application. I just tested using the "Run Now" button.

My B2C page looks like:

Also note that I added Application Insights which I strongly recommend for debugging (in SignUpOrSigninWithAAD.xml).


Azure B2C : Using B2C as an Identity router

B2C has been touted as the successor to ACS but I've always struggled to understand this.

With the advent of custom policies, this is now doable.

Essentially, forget about using B2C as it's supposed to be used i.e. external customer registration and self service password reset.

Just use it as a hub / identity router.

You can configure a policy e.g. sign up / sign in to handle any number of IDP as long as they support OpenID Connect or SAML 2.0. Each of these is configured via XML in the custom policies. Each has a login button on the landing page.

You could almost think of B2C as acting as a pseudo Home Realm Discovery page.

B2C can be branded so it could have the same look and feel as the rest of the corporate pages.

e.g. this is my PoC page.

It allows you to sign up with Facebook, ADFS or Azure AD.

Downstream B2C only allows OpenID Connect so the path would be e.g.

Application --> OIDC --> B2C --> OIDC  --> Facebook
                                                  --> SAML --> ADFS
                                                  --> OIDC  --> AAD

Or if you wanted lots of social providers, you could go OIDC to something like Auth0 and then use their large array of social providers.

So it's pretty much ACS++!

WS-Fed support is on the way.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Azure B2C : Tracking errors

I've posted before on how crucial Application Insights is to troubleshooting B2C custom policies.

Once you had got it setup, you need to wait about 5 minutes and then run something like:


This displays all the data. You can sort by clicking on the "timestamp column".

 Expand the "message" section.

Expand the "FatalException" section.

and you'll see the error.

If you want to filter the errors, try something like:

| where severityLevel > 0 and message contains "Exception"


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Azure B2C : Custom policies with ADFS

Azure AD B2C has custom policies in preview that enable you to add extra IDP / social to B2C via an "Identity Framework" that is a collection of XML files that document standards, orchestrations, user journeys etc.

Using this you can add providers that use either SAML or OpenID Connect.

So ADFS 4.0 was a good candidate for OIDC.

As per my SO question:

"I have ADFS 4.0 on an Azure VM and am trying to add ADFS as a provider to my Azure AD B2C tenant.

I have set up all the custom policies.

I am using OpenID Connect as the protocol.

My ADFS SSL certificate is self-signed and I have certificate rollover for the encryption and signing certificates.

The error I get in Application Insights is: 

Exception {"Kind":"Handled","HResult":"80131501",
"Message":"The remote certificate is invalid according to the validation procedure.","Data":{}} Kind Handled HResult 80131501 
Message The remote certificate is invalid according to the validation procedure.

I battled for hours trying to get this to work before asking the question.

Turns out:

"Your ADFS needs to have a valid SSL cert signed by the standard Certificate Authorities in order for Azure AD B2C to communicate with it".

So no self-signed. As this was a proof on concept, I'm not intending to go out and buy a certificate. This is further complicated by the fact that you can't buy a certificate for!

Tip - to debug the custom policies you need Application Insights. Without that, your chances of solving the issues are effectively zero.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

ADFS : Issue with updating the SSL certificate

Using ADFS 4.0 and updating the SSL certificate.

This is on an Azure VM and I was accessing it remotely.

Ran the normal commands:

Set-AdfsCertificate -CertificateType Service-Communications -Thumbprint thumbprint

Set-AdfsSslCertificate -Thumbprint thumbprint

Error :

Set-AdfsSslCertificate -Thumbprint 24f...b35

Set-AdfsSslCertificate : PS0319: Validation task 'Test-_InternalAdfsSslCertificate' on AD FS server 'localhost' failed with error 'Connecting to remote server localhost failed with the following error message : The client cannot connect to the destination specified in the request. Verify that the service on the destination is running and is accepting requests. Consult the logs and documentation for the WS-Management service running on the destination, most commonly IIS or WinRM. If the destination is the WinRM service, run the following command on the destination to analyze and configure the WinRM service: "winrm quickconfig".

As per the message, running:

winrm qc

and then re-running the command fixed the problem.


Monday, August 21, 2017


SLO = Single log out.

The way this is supposed to work is described in the SAML specification.

For one customer, they had 6 RP and one of then didn't do SLO properly and didn't return a logout response.

This stopped all the others getting called, clearing cookies etc. so it was a "half a logout" solution.

Eventually, I simply removed the SLO endpoint for the RP via the ADFS wizard.

Everything then worked correctly.

The RP with issues was still logged in and if you knew the URL you could still continue but at least the bigger picture worked.

I should point out that this RP was the only one that did not use an industry standard SAML stack and had instead tried to roll their own. You may draw your own conclusions :-)


Friday, August 04, 2017

Identity : Breached passwords

Troy Hunt has an interesting feature over on Introducing 306 million freely downloadable pwned passwords.

All the passwords that have been in a breach are searchable.

If there is a hit, it's either out there or someone else make the same password selection as you did (decreasing security).

But there's also a section on how to utilise this for Identity Management.

When you ask the user to select a password, check it against this list and reject if there is a hit.

Azure AD uses a similar approach where they reject all "common" passwords.


Friday, July 28, 2017

ASP.NET : Misused header name. Make sure request headers are used

The full error is:

Misused header name. Make sure request headers are used with HttpRequestMessage, response headers with HttpResponseMessage, and content headers with HttpContent objects.

This is when I use HttpClient with .NET 4.5 and try something like:

client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Contact-Type", ...);

And so began a long and painful journey to figure out to to fix this because the external web API wouldn't work without "Content-Type" as a header.

There is so much garbage out there :-(

After some research, Content-Type is part of Content - the name pretty much implies that - so use HttpContent.

using (var client = new HttpClient())
  // Adding contentType to client as header gives "Misused header name. Make   sure request headers are used 
with HttpRequestMessage, response headers with HttpResponseMessage, and content headers with HttpContent 
  // objects."

  client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Authorization", "Bearer abc...123");

  HttpResponseMessage response;
  // Construct an HttpContent from the data
  HttpContent hc = new StringContent(data);
  hc.Headers.ContentType = new MediaTypeHeaderValue("application/json");
  response = client.PostAsync(baseAddress, hc).Result;

  var result = response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync().Result;


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Git : Publish causes problems

Git in VS 2015 is driving me insane!

When I publish the applications, I get a whole lot of build files etc. in the Git changes folder.

This is despite these files being in the .gitignore.

Undoing the changes does nothing. The changes still sit in the folder.

Then I figured out that:

git reset --hard

gets rid of everything.

Always check with:

git status 

before and after and always ensure you are on the correct branch.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Git : Using Beyond Compare with the Bash shell

This post shows how to set up Git Bash.

There is a diff in Git but it's the Unix style showing one side and then the other in text and it's hard to understand. I like visual indicators in a GUI which is where BC comes in.

So first we need to tell Bash where BC is:

$ PATH=$PATH:/c/'Program Files/Beyond Compare 4'

Test this by typing:


and you should get the BC GUI coming up.

Tell Git to use BC for diff.

$ git config --global diff.tool bc

Now compare a file on two branches.

$ git difftool branch1  branch1 -- somepath/Index.cshtml

Viewing (1/1): 'somepath/Index.cshtml'
Launch 'bc' [Y/n]? y

BC will now launch showing the text wizard differences for Index.cshtml between the two branches.

So much cleaner and more readable.

The Bash prompt will stay open until you close BC.