Marketing Glossary - Development - OpenID Connect (OIDC)

OpenID Connect (OIDC)

What is OpenID Connect (OIDC)?

OpenID Connect (OIDC) is an authentication protocol built on top of the OAuth 2.0 authorization framework. It allows clients to verify the identity of an end-user based on the authentication performed by an authorization server, as well as to obtain basic profile information about the end-user in an interoperable and REST-like manner.

Where is it Used?

OIDC is used in web, mobile, and native applications to implement secure user authentication. It is widely adopted for single sign-on (SSO) solutions across various platforms, providing a standardized protocol for identity verification without requiring applications to handle and store passwords.

How Does it Work?

OIDC works by extending OAuth 2.0 with additional identity layers:

  • Authentication Request: The client (typically a web application) sends a request to the OpenID provider to authenticate the user.
  • Authentication and Consent: The user authenticates with the OpenID provider (like logging in with a username and password) and may be asked to give consent for the sharing of information with the client.
  • ID Token and Access Token: Once authenticated, the user is issued an ID token (a JSON Web Token or JWT) and, optionally, an access token and a refresh token.
  • Token Validation: The client validates the ID token according to the OpenID Connect specification.
  • User Info: The client can use the access token to access the user's profile information from the OpenID provider’s UserInfo endpoint.

Why is OpenID Connect Important?

  • Security: Enhances security by allowing the authentication to be handled by trusted providers and reducing the risks associated with handling passwords.
  • Interoperability: Offers a standardized protocol that can be used across different systems, simplifying identity management across platforms.
  • User Experience: Provides a seamless authentication experience, supporting SSO, which simplifies logins for users across multiple applications.
  • Scalability: Allows systems to scale more easily by outsourcing user authentication to providers that are equipped to handle large volumes of requests securely.

Key Takeaways/Elements:

  • Standardized Protocol: OIDC is a robust, widely accepted standard for user authentication.
  • Layered on OAuth 2.0: Builds on the OAuth 2.0 protocol, adding authentication features to the token issuance process.
  • Token-Based: Uses digital tokens, providing secure credentials that can be easily validated.
  • Flexible Information Retrieval: Enables clients to retrieve basic profile information through a standardized API.
  • Wide Adoption: Supported by major identity providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.

Real-World Example:

A major online retailer implements OIDC for its user authentication process, allowing customers to log in using their existing Google or Facebook accounts. This approach not only streamlines the login process, enhancing the user experience by eliminating the need for creating and remembering another set of credentials but also integrates seamlessly with the retailer's mobile application, providing a consistent login experience across platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do you integrate OpenID Connect in an application?

To integrate OIDC, you need to register your application with an OIDC-compatible identity provider, configure your application with the provider’s details, and use libraries or SDKs to handle the OIDC flow.

What are the benefits of using OpenID Connect?

Benefits include enhanced security, improved user experience with SSO, ease of integration across platforms, and reduced responsibility for user password management.

What is the difference between OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect?

While OAuth 2.0 is focused on authorization, allowing apps to access resources on behalf of a user, OpenID Connect is focused on authentication, verifying the user’s identity.