Thursday, September 5, 2013

HTTP Basic Auth and WS-Security username/password authentication

Basic-auth and ws-security username/password authentication both are different and independent.

Basic auth is used in HTTP where user name and password will be encoded and passed  with the request as a HTTP header.
Eg:  HTTP header block will have " Authorization: Basic YWRtaW46YWRtaW4="  header element.

Username and password will be  encoded using base64 and which is used in  authorization header.
Eg: base64(username:password) --> base64(admin:admin)

Most of the webservice clients have option to provide basic auth header. In SOAPUI, at "Authentication" tab, we can provide username and password. If we switch to "Raw" format of the request, all the HTTP headers are visible and we can see the Basic Auth header is set.
When we use Basic Auth, the username and password setting is on the HTTP headers. Not in the SOAP message. SOAP message goes with HTTP body.

We can secure webservices using ws-security username/password authentication mechanism that is a simple mechanism to secure services. It enforces user to provide UsernameToken security header in the SOAP requests.

Sample request:

<soapenv:Envelope xmlns:soapenv="" xmlns:ser="http://services.samples">
      <wsse:Security xmlns:wsse="">
      <wsu:Timestamp xmlns:wsu="" wsu:Id="Timestamp-10">
     <wsse:UsernameToken xmlns:wsu="" wsu:Id="UsernameToken-9">
       <wsse:Password Type=""&gtadmin</wsse:Password>

If we check above sample request, the ws-security header is set as part of SOAP message.

WSO2  service hosting servers provide ws-username token security option. If we secure a service using user name token option, (that is, ws-security username/password authentication) we should pass ws-security headers as mentioned above.

But there is POXSecurity handler is available in the platform which converts HTTP-Basic Auth header to ws-security usernametoken header. So, if we enable UserName token security option for a service , we can send HTTP_basic auth header to execute the service.

Or else, we have to send request, with ws-security headers as mentioned in above sample request.


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  2. Thanks for this information. I was looking for this information. Also can u provide the advantage of using WS Security over HTTP