Red5 Pro Round-Trip Authentication Validator

ABOUT

The Red5 Pro RoundTrip Authentication validator implemented by the class RoundTripAuthValidator, is a remote server authorization mediator. As the name suggests, it implements a secure and robust authentication mechanism using the server to server validation.

A Red5 pro webapp seeks validation for publish and subscribe actions requested on a stream from a remote service through the RoundTripAuthValidator implementation. The authentication is carried out on the remote server using the appropriate business logic implemented and the result is returned as a JSON object back to the RoundTripAuthValidator implementation.

One of the main feature of this validator implementation is being able to authenticate clients distinctively by their role (publishers and subscribers). Authentication does not occur when a client merely connects to the server. It is triggered when the client clarifies its intent through an actual publish or subscribe request for a stream. The validator uses Red5 pro's security hooks to determine the requested stream action type (publish or subscribe).

MECHANISM

RoundTripAuthValidatorFlow

As the application starts up, the validator is initialized with the configuration parameters and validation/invalidation endpoint hooks.

The client needs to directly login into the business application server to receive a unique secure token. The token can be seen as a mark of identity (as a session) which indicates that the client is authentic and can access services.

When a client attempts to connect to the application, it must provide the username, password, and optional token parameters during the connection attempt. The simple auth checks to see if the parameters have been provided or not. If one or more parameters are missing the client is immediately rejected.

If credentials are provided, the validator allows connection to the client and waits for a stream action. When the client attempts to publish or subscribe to a stream, the validator determines the intent (publish or subscribe) and the stream name for which the action is requested. The validator sends the credentials, the stream name, the client type (publisher/subscriber) and the optional token parameter.

The remote server (typically a business application server), validates the credentials along with validating whether the client type has permission for the intended stream action or not. the server then returns its answer back to the validator, which then determines whether to allow or deny the stream action request based on the response data from the remote server.

The token parameter is added for additional security alongside the username and password. The passing of the parameter can be made mandatory using the validator configuration boolean param clientTokenRequired.

PREREQUISITES FOR SETTING UP AUTHENTICATION

The round trip authentication consists of three components mainly:

  1. the simple-auth-plugin jar,
  2. the validator instantiation in the webapp's red5-web.xml file, and
  3. the remote authentication service.

You need to have the authentication service running for the system to work. A sample of the authentication server implementation, mock Node.js service, can be downloaded here. Once the server is available you can configure necessary endpoint parameters as explained in the next section.

Make sure to double-check your server endpoints for errors and expected responses before you configure it on your instance.

PREPARING THE MOCK NODE.JS REMOTE AUTHENTICATION SERVER

As mentioned earlier, you can set up your validation server in any technology as long as you keep the endpoints and response JSON format the same. You can use the provided code as a starting point for your own auth server as a Node.js service.

The steps below explain the various components of the Node.js mock server and how to set it up to work with the RoundTripAuthenticator.

This Node.js service simulates the business application server's API. It has some exposed endpoints to validate and invalidate the username and password supplied. The mock service does not do any actual validation on the inputs that it receives, just that it is receiving something. This means, for example, that username/passwords validity are not checked.

Prerequisites

Copy and unzip the zipped file nodejs-mock-service.zip onto the server where you want to run the mock service. You will need to install Node.js on the server:

sudo apt-get install nodejs-legacy

Configuration

In the nodejs-mock-service directory, edit the index.js file. In the top rows of the file, locate the comment BEGINNING OF CONFIGURATION. After that, there will be two variables which need to be updated with your custom values:

  • host: The host where the Node.js service is deployed. Replace "localhost" with the private IP address of the Node.js server.
  • port: The port that you opened for the service. Default example: 3000 (make sure this port is opened on your inbound firewall rules).

There is also an optional value, optionalURLResource, which can be used to pass in a URL to a connecting client.

How to run

Start the server with the command:

node index.js

If you open in a browser http://<host>:<port> you will get a few forms to test the API. The server's console will output the values received. The browser will show you the responses from the node server.

What to expect

The console will show you three possible outputs:

  • Validate credentials: called by the webapp to verify the username/password supplied by a publisher or subscriber
validate credentials called
type: publisher
username: testuser
password: testpass
streamID: stream1
  • Invalidate credentials: called by the webapp after a publisher stops publishing. It will invalidate the credentials that the publisher used to publish.
invalidate credentials called
username: testuser
streamID: stream1

API CALLS AND RESPONSES FOR REMOTE AUTHENTICATION SERVER

The following API calls should be able to be run agains your remote authentication server, as their logic is used by the Round Trip Authentication Validator process.

Validate Credentials

Description

Invoked by the RoundTripValidator to validate a client of a given type (publisher/subscriber) for a specified stream name.

REQUEST

  • ENDPOINT: validateCredentials
  • METHOD: POST
  • DATA:
{
    "username": "<username>",
    "password": "<password>",
    "token": "<token>",
    "type": "<type>",
    "streamID": "<stream-id>"
}

RESPONSE

  • Success: HTTP CODE 200
  • Data:
{
    "result": "<boolean>",
    "url": "<optional-arbitrary-url>"
}
  • result contains a boolean value indicating whether client action is permitted or denied
  • url can be used to pass back an arbitrary URL to the authenticated client. The value fo the url attribute is stored on the IConnection object by property name signedURL. The parameter can be accessed by the server-side code using the getStringAttribute method on the IConnection object.
IConnection conn = Red5.getConnectionLocal();
String url = conn.getStringAttribute("signedURL");

Invalidate Credentials

Description

Invoked by the RoundTripValidator to invalidate a client of a given type (publisher/subscriber) for a specified stream name. Invalidate can be used to revoke a user permission or expire a token.

REQUEST

  • ENDPOINT: invalidateCredentials
  • METHOD: POST
  • DATA:
{
    "username": "<username>",
    "password": "<password>",
    "token": "<token>",
    "type": "<type>",
    "streamID": "<stream-id>"
}

RESPONSE

  • Success: HTTP CODE 200
  • Data:
{
    "result": "<boolean>"
}
  • result contains a boolean value indicating whether client action is permitted or denied

ENABLING SECURITY ON YOUR WEBAPP

To enable security on your web application, you need to add and configure the Simple Auth Plugin security bean along with the validator bean to your web application's context file, red5-web.xml, as explained below.

APPLICATION LEVEL CONFIGURATION

To attach simple auth plugin to a webapp using the RoundTripAuthValidator validator, you need to specify the core plugin configuration bean along with the validator bean to use for authentication, in the application's context, red5-web.xml, file.

Example 1: Attaching plugin security to the live webapp using RoundTripAuthValidator for authentication with standard configuration settings.

STEP 1

To apply security to the live application, add the security configuration to {red5pro}/webapps/live/WEB-INF/red5-web.xml as shown below. Note that in the following example the value <property name="clientTokenRequired" value="false"/> Set this to true if you want to enforce sending a token with your request:

<bean id="roundTripValidator" class="com.red5pro.server.plugin.simpleauth.datasource.impl.roundtrip.RoundTripAuthValidator" init-method="initialize">
    <property name="adapter" ref="web.handler" />
    <property name="context" ref="web.context" />
    <property name="protocol" value="${server.protocol}" />
    <property name="host" value="${server.host}" />
    <property name="port" value="${server.port}" />
    <property name="validateCredentialsEndPoint" value="${server.validateCredentialsEndPoint}"/>
    <property name="invalidateCredentialsEndPoint" value="${server.invalidateCredentialsEndPoint}"/>
    <property name="clientTokenRequired" value="false"/>
</bean>


<bean id="simpleAuthSecurity" class="com.red5pro.server.plugin.simpleauth.Configuration" >
    <property name="active" value="true" />
    <property name="rtmp" value="true" />
    <property name="rtsp" value="true" />
    <property name="rtc" value="true" />
    <property name="rtmpAllowQueryParamsEnabled" value="true" />
    <property name="allowedRtmpAgents" value="*" />
    <property name="validator" ref="roundTripValidator" />
</bean>

STEP 2

In the {red5pro}/webapps/live/WEB-INF/red5-web.properties file, add the following section:

server.validateCredentialsEndPoint=/validateCredentials
server.invalidateCredentialsEndPoint=/invalidateCredentials
server.host=<serverIP>
server.port=3000
server.protocol=http://

The property values are substituted from the red5-web.properties file into the red5-web.xml file at runtime. If you are running the mock auth service on the same instance as your Red5 Pro Server, the server.host value should be the private IP address of your instance (same as in the Node.js index.js file).

With the following configuration applied, the server will be expecting client validation requests at http://<serverIP>:3000/validateCredentials and invalidate requests at http://<serverIP>:3000/invalidateCredentials. The plugin configuration is set to force authentication on RTMP, RTSP and WebRTC connections.

APPLICATION LEVEL CONFIGURATION BEAN PROPERTIES

The following parameters are allowed in a bean configuration at the application level (configured in application's red5-web.xml):

CORE

Property Type Description
active Boolean Sets the state of security for the application
rtmp Boolean Sets the state of RTMP security for the application
rtsp Boolean Sets the state of RTSP security for the application
rtc Boolean Sets the state of WebRTC security for the application
rtmpAllowQueryParamsEnabled Boolean Sets the state of query string based authentication for RTMP clients
allowedRtmpAgents String Sets the list of allowed RTMP agent strings separated by semicolons. By default, all agent string is allowed.

VALIDATOR

Property Type Description
context Reference The reference to the web.context bean
adapter Reference The reference to thr web.handler bean, which indicates the Application
protocol String The remote validation server protocol (HTTP or HTTPS) to use
host String The remote validation server host (hostname or IP)
port String The remote validation server port (80 or 443 or other)
validateCredentialsEndPoint String The remote server-client validation endpoint URI relative to the server root
invalidateCredentialsEndPoint String The remote server-client invalidation endpoint URI relative to the server root
clientTokenRequired Boolean Specifies whether token parameter is a required or optional param in client request

CLIENT AUTHENTICATION

RTMP, RTSP and WebRTC clients must provide the required connection parameters when attempting to establish a connection with the server. The plugin will extract expected parameters and validate their presence locally first, before transmitting them to the remote server.

Given below are some snippets, explaining how authentication can be achieved for different client types.

Authenticating RTMP Clients

RTMP clients must pass authentication parameters (username and password) using the connection arguments in NetConnection.connect)

Example A

var nc:NetConnection = new NetConnection();
nc.addEventListener(NetStatusEvent.NET_STATUS, onStatus);
nc.connect("rtmp://localhost/myapp", "testuser", "testpass", "mytoken");

function onStatus(ns:NetStatusEvent):void
{
   trace(ns.info.code);
}

Username and password should be the first two parameters in the arguments array being sent to Red5 Pro.

With the simpleauth.default.rtmp.queryparams=true in the plugin configuration file or using the rtmpAllowQueryParamsEnabled property of configuration bean set to true, RTMP clients can also pass parameters in the query string.

Example B

var nc:NetConnection = new NetConnection();
nc.addEventListener(NetStatusEvent.NET_STATUS, onStatus);
nc.connect("rtmp://localhost/myapp?username=testuser&password=testpass&token=mytoken");

function onStatus(ns:NetStatusEvent):void
{
    trace(ns.info.code);
}

Authenticating RTSP Clients

RTSP clients (Android and IOS) must pass authentication parameters (username and password) using the R5Configuration object in the Red5 Pro Mobile SDK.

Android Example

R5Configuration config = new R5Configuration(R5StreamProtocol.RTSP,
    TestContent.GetPropertyString("host"),
    TestContent.GetPropertyInt("port"),
    TestContent.GetPropertyString("context"),
    TestContent.GetPropertyFloat("buffer_time"));

config.setParameters("username=testuser;password=testpass;token=mytoken;");
R5Connection connection = new R5Connection(config);

IOS Example

Swift
func getConfig()->R5Configuration{
    // Set up the configuration
    let config = R5Configuration()
    config.host = Testbed.getParameter("host") as! String
    config.port = Int32(Testbed.getParameter("port") as! Int)
    config.contextName = Testbed.getParameter("context") as! String
    config.parameters = @"username=testuser;password=testpass;token=mytoken";
    config.`protocol` = 1;
    config.buffer_time = Testbed.getParameter("buffer_time") as! Float
    return config
}

Authenticating WebRTC Clients

WebRTC clients (Using Red5 Pro HTML5 SDK) must pass authentication parameters using the connectionParams property of the baseConfiguration object.

Example:

  var baseConfiguration = {
    host: window.targetHost,
    app: 'myapp',
    iceServers: iceServers,
    bandwidth: desiredBandwidth,
    connectionParams: {username: "testuser", password: "testpass", token: "mytoken"}
  };

TESTING

You can use the HTML5 Publish - Round Trip Authentication and Subscribe - Round Trip Authentication tests to validate round-trip security.


USE CASES

While there are some best-suited conditions for using the RoundTripAuthValidator implementation, it is possible to adapt or extend it to meet almost any kind of security requirement.

The primary difference in usage and extensibility of this validator depends on what type of traffic you expect for the application. You will need to consider, whether your traffic consists of registered users having an account with the business or anonymous users or a mix of both. Owing to its implementation, the RoundTripAuthValidator can be flexibly used in one-to-one, one-to-many & many-to-many streaming patterns involving both registered and anonymous users.

PERFECT FITS

  • When you have users holding an account on your business server.
  • When you need to know who is using it. (hence the username/password parameters)
  • One - many applications (1 broadcaster => N subscribers), where you need to distinguish between publishers and subscribers.
  • Two-way chat where every user is both publisher and subscriber.

ADAPTABLE FITS

  • When you need anonymous usage of your application (no fixed credentials for users).
  • When you have custom authentication parameters to pass along with standard credentials.

Understanding different types of user access

Registered Users

Registered users are clients having an account with the business system and hence having a set of standard credentials to validate against. Authenticating registered users works out of the box since the simple auth plugin expects a minimum of two parameters - username & password. For business systems that implement credentials using these parameters, round trip authentication will work out of the box, apart from standard plugin configurations.

Anonymous Users

Some times a system might not have the ideal username, password pair for client authentication or might want to use the username parameters with a password alias or a set of completely custom parameters to identify the client session. In the context of this document & consuming services, a client that does not require strict identification using the username & password parameters is termed as an anonymous user.

Anonymous usage is more flexible and desirable than strict account-based access because of its universal acceptance and widespread application possibilities. Systems can support and implement complete or partial anonymous access in different ways.

  • Some of these systems will want to support the username parameter while substituting the password with a custom hash that acts as an alias for the actual password.
  • Some systems may want to support the username parameter coupled with other custom parameters while skipping the password parameter altogether.
  • Some systems might want to skip both username and password and use other custom parameters that suit their business requirements better.

Custom parameter support

If you have a need to support custom parameters in the roundtrip authentication mechanism other than the supported parameters (username, password & token) such as a hash or a collection of multiple parameters to identify the user access or session, you can use the token parameter to pass in a complex string which can contain multiple parameters formatted together.

The roundtrip authentication mechanism is built on top of the simple auth plugin core which requires that the client must pass username and password parameters. If these params are not provided the connection to the server will be rejected. Therefore if you wish to pass custom parameters you will also need to pass in dummy values for the required parameters.

WebRTC Parameters Example:


  var baseConfiguration = {
    host: window.targetHost,
    app: 'live',
    iceServers: iceServers,  // will override the rtcConfiguration.iceServers
    bandwidth: desiredBandwidth,
    mediaConstraints: forceQuality,
    connectionParams: {username: "anonymous", password: "anonymous", token: "token=mytoken&param1=value1&param2=value2"}
  };

In the above snippet, we pass username & password parameters with a value of anonymous. This ensures that the min required parameters are fulfilled. Then we overload the token parameter to carry multiple parameters as a query string. This will ensure that the server accepts out parameters.

On the server side, the username, password & token are extracted in a standard manner. On subsequent publish or subscribe request the parameters are sent to the configured remote endpoint for authentication. The /validateCredentials handler on the remote endpoint logic should then extract the necessary parameters and decode the content of the token parameter to unload the additional custom parameters.

You can create a complex string of parameters for the token parameter in any suitable format such as simple query string, stringified JSON, etc. Your validation endpoint should accordingly know how to decode and extract custom parameters from the complex string.

Usage in different application patterns

One-to-one Streaming

One-to-one pattern-based applications such as live video chats, often require both parties to have equal level access to the application. In this pattern, each participant is a publisher as well as a subscriber. Thus is there no need for differentiation by roles. In such a use case you can either have the users use system with their username & password credentials or using username and a temporary hash token as an alias to the password.

  • If you have registered users on your system, you can either have them use their existing username & password or the username with a password alias for authentication.

  • In case you want to implement a public conference system without binding users to account creation, you can capture the username parameter from the user's unique identifier (such as email Id) or generate an identifier for the intended session and then generate a custom value to be used as an password alias or an one time password. To prevent hotlinking/leeching a custom parameter containing a special signature hash can be relayed to the remote validation service.

It is important to note that, for such patterns, the RoundTripAuthValidator will be authenticating the client twice per session. First as a publisher (publishing own stream) and then as a subscriber (viewing the other participant's stream).

If you wish to authenticate only once then you can use IConnection->setAttribute to store track the state of authentication. After the publish request has been authenticated, you can skip authenticating again on subscribe request.

Many-to-many Streaming

Many to many streaming, commonly seen in conference applications, is a variation of the one-to-one pattern and thus will follow the same principles for implementation of security.

One-to-many Streaming

The one-to-many streaming pattern is common in applications like live auctions, sports broadcasts etc. Here the publisher client requires access authorization while the subscribers may or may not require it.

One-to-many streaming usually requires identification & authorization on the publisher side and either complete partial anonymous access on the subscriber side. Identity of the subscriber is not of utter importance.

  • Complete anonymous access: For complete anonymous access to stream playback, username & password can be anything and actual subscriber authorization can be skipped at the remote application server. A good example of such systems is a public video streaming channel.

Such systems can include a special signature or secure hash to prevent hotlinking/leeching. Signature/secure hash can be generated using basic client info, session expiry information, etc.

  • Session-based access: Session-based access lies between anonymous & identity-driven access. In such a system we grant access to users based on their relationship with the system, but without directly involving any credentials. That is to state that only business customers have access to the stream but without having to provide actual credentials (username & password) as parameters.

For such an access, the username & password parameters can hold dummy values (to satisfy the required parameters constraint) and additional custom parameters can be introduced to represent the user's identity and access permissions indirectly such as a signed access token, token creation time, token expiry time and other relevant information. The remote service should be able to decrypt the access token and validate the access by identifying the user and relevant permissions as necessary.

NOTE: It is also possible to mix anonymous access with session-based access to provide free and premium type services depending on the requirements of the system being designed.