LDAP Auth With Tokens

I’ve encountered a few web applications (including more than a handful of out-of-the-box, “I paid money for that”, applications) that perform LDAP authentication/authorization every single time the user changes pages. Or reloads the page. Or, seemingly, looks at the site. OK, not the later, but still. When the load balancer probe hits the service every second and your application’s connection count is an order of magnitude over the probe’s count … that’s not a good sign!

On the handful of sites I’ve developed at work, I have used cookies to “save” the authentication and authorization info. It works, but only if the user is accepting cookies. Unfortunately, the IT types who typically use my sites tend to have privacy concerns. And the technical knowledge to maintain their privacy. Which … I get, I block a lot of cookies too. So I’ve begun moving to a token-based scheme. Microsoft’s magic cloudy AD via Microsoft Graph is one approach. But that has external dependencies — lose Internet connectivity, and your app becomes unusable. I needed another option.

There are projects on GitHub to authenticate a user via LDAP and obtain a token to “save” that access has been granted. Clone the project, make an app.py that connects to your LDAP directory, and you’re ready.

from flask_ldap_auth import login_required, token
from flask import Flask
import sys

app = Flask(__name__)
app.config['SECRET_KEY'] = 'somethingsecret'
app.config['LDAP_AUTH_SERVER'] = 'ldap://ldap.forumsys.com'
app.config['LDAP_TOP_DN'] = 'dc=example,dc=com'
app.register_blueprint(token, url_prefix='/auth')

def hello():
return 'Hello, world'

if __name__ == '__main__':

The authentication process is two step — first obtain a token from the URL Assuming valid credentials are supplied, the URL returns JSON containing the token. Depending on how you are using the token, you may need to base64 encode it (the httpie example on the GitHub page handles this for you, but the example below includes the explicit encoding step).

You then use the token when accessing subsequent pages, for instance

import requests
import base64


tupleAuthValues = ("userIDToTest", "P@s5W0Rd2T35t")

tokenResponse = requests.post(url = API_ENDPOINT, auth=tupleAuthValues)

if(tokenResponse.status_code is 200):
jsonResponse = tokenResponse.json()
strToken = jsonResponse['token']
print("The token is %s" % strToken)

strB64Token = base64.b64encode(strToken)
print("The base64 encoded token is %s" % strB64Token)

strHeaders = {'Authorization': 'Basic {}'.format(strB64Token)}

responseSiteAccess = requests.get(SITE_URL, headers=strHeaders)
print("Error requesting token: %s" % tokenResponse.status_code)

Run and you get a token which provides access to the base URL.

[lisa@linux02 flask-ldap]# python authtest.py
The token is eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsImV4cCI6MTUzODE0NzU4NiwiaWF0IjoxNTM4MTQzOTg2fQ.eyJ1c2VybmFtZSI6ImdhdXNzIn0.FCJrECBlG1B6HQJKwt89XL3QrbLVjsGyc-NPbbxsS_U:
The base64 encoded token is ZXlKaGJHY2lPaUpJVXpJMU5pSXNJbVY0Y0NJNk1UVXpPREUwTnpVNE5pd2lhV0YwSWpveE5UTTRNVFF6T1RnMmZRLmV5SjFjMlZ5Ym1GdFpTSTZJbWRoZFhOekluMC5GQ0pyRUNCbEcxQjZIUUpLd3Q4OVhMM1FyYkxWanNHeWMtTlBiYnhzU19VOg==
Hello, world

A cool discovery I made during my testing — a test LDAP server that is publicly accessible. I’ve got dev servers at work, I’ve got an OpenLDAP instance on Docker … but none of that helps anyone else who wants to play around with LDAP auth. So if you don’t want to bother populating directory data within your own test OpenLDAP … some nice folks provide a quick LDAP auth source.

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