[Openid-specs-ab] An alternative session management proposal

Casper Biering cb at peercraft.com
Mon Nov 5 14:57:04 UTC 2012

I agree with the overall architecture.

Personally I would like OPs to be able to push session changes to RPs in
this proposal as well, but I'm not 100% sure if the benefits outweighs
the increase in complexity. This should of course be optional for RPs.

In your proposal you write "Ending a session is simply calling the
Revocation Endpoint with the id_token.". We should also be able to
handle that OPs might want to confirm the revocation with the user (when
dealing with untrusted RPs).

-- Casper

On Mon, 2012-11-05 at 04:40 +0000, Richer, Justin P. wrote:
> I would like to propose an alternative method of handling session management in OpenID Connect. I believe that we can build this capability by making use of the id_token with a set of existing and proposed token management capabilities in OAuth2. 
> Starting a new session is easy -- this is just vanilla OpenID Connect token issuance as it exists today. The id_token that you get issued is the representation of your session.
> Checking on the status is done through an Introspection Endpoint, using the id_token as an access_token. The community hasn't fully centered around a draft for an Introspection Endpoint yet, but there was a lot of interest in it at the last IIW and I think that there are some legs to this general mechanism. This also gives you dumb-client validation, which was thrown out with the Check ID Endpoint.
> Renewing the session is a little tricky, but since the id_token is a JWT, I think we can use the Assertion flow of OAuth2 to trade in one id_token for a new one. There are also a handful of approaches being discussed around methods of trading in one access token for another access token which might apply here.
> Ending a session is simply calling the Revocation Endpoint with the id_token. Note that this might keep the refresh token and access token still valid in the wild, depending on the application. Separation of these life cycles is, I argue, a good thing.
> This differs significantly from the current spec approach as it uses network calls as opposed to a JavaScript API to accomplish its goals. I already know this is going to cause cries of overusing the network, but I think that unless you're Google this isn't going to be as huge of a problem as it's been made out to be. In my view, this approach trades the extreme runtime scalability for a devleopment-time simplicity and flexibility (and therefore, deployment scalability, as it doesn't rely on a single vendor's implementation or a single runtime environment, like JavaScript). You can use the same functions on either the front channel (in the browser) or in the back channel, depending on your application's construction, with no differences to the protocol. It also works on native applications without relying on an embedded browser panel. Finally, it doesn't run afoul of browser cookie policies.
> In summary, I think this approach is much more simple to implement and architecturally more elegant, and all of the tools it would use to do its job would have general applicability in the wider OAuth2 world.
>  -- Justin
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