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Securing Your SharePoint and Windows Azure Solutions : Configuring Shared Access Permissions for BLOB Storage - Using the Service Bus and Access Control Service

11/28/2012 4:26:47 PM
Windows Azure AppFabric is a very powerful and important part of the Windows Azure platform. AppFabric is a set of middleware services and resources that help you run your applications in the cloud. The AppFabric service bus is one of these middleware services and provides a connection point across service endpoints from cloud to on-premises. This bridge helps remote applications of all types to tie into sites and data that would otherwise be difficult for them to access.

You can build simple clients and services that are loosely coupled and that run without any security at all. For example, the following code snippet creates an instance of a service that uses the WebHttpBinding class and then sets the WebHttpSecurityMode to None. This client instantiation of the service calls the GetCurrentDateAndTime method to return a string representation of the current DateTime.Now object. The service is created without the need to authenticate with any credentials—and thus acts without the need for explicit claims about the user:

namespace ClientApp
class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            WebHttpBinding binding = new WebHttpBinding(WebHttpSecurityMode.None);
            Uri address = new Uri(@"http://localhost/getcurrenttime");

            WebChannelFactory<IGetCurrentTime> channelFactory = new
                WebChannelFactory<IGetCurrentTime>(binding, address);
            IGetCurrentTime myProxy = channelFactory.CreateChannel();

            using (new OperationContextScope(myProxy as IContextChannel))
                 string currentTime = myProxy.GetCurrentDateAndTime();
                 Console.WriteLine("The current time is: {0}", currentTime);




More than likely, you will want to add some measure of protection to your service and use more than the WebHttpSecurity.None property. Within the AppFabric service bus, the Access Control Service (ACS) provides a way to secure the bridged connection between service endpoints. More specifically, it provides what is called claims-based authentication for accessing REST-based services. Although ACS provides the authentication of the services, the service bus provides the infrastructure to connect them so that clients and services can connect and be loosely coupled.

Claims-based authentication (CBA) is not a new concept; the use of claims for security has been around for a while—though before now in a more limited fashion. For example, when you log onto your computer each day, you are providing a claim about yourself: your user name along with a password. More recently, CBA has become a common way of programming security and identity into applications (especially cloud-based applications) because it provides users with a more flexible approach to passing claims about themselves to and from applications. For example, today’s CBA applications use Security Assertions Markup Language (SAML) tokens, which integrate with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) 2.0 (which enables you to collaborate across network boundaries and access applications that are deployed both on-premises and in the cloud) and other identity providers, such as Windows Live or Google.

By using ACS security, you can engage in either passive or active authentication, because ACS supports both. Passive activation uses a user interface such as a browser-based UI and requires you to register a Security Token Service (STS) with the web application you’re building. By using ACS, you can create a new namespace, register an application and identity provider (such as Windows Live), and then configure your application to use that identity provider as the STS from your web application. Thus, when your web applications loads, it redirects to the identity provider, which prompts the user for the login information and then passes the user to the application she is trying to access.

ADFS is a federated security model in which authentication can be mediated through an STS. The STS can issue SAML tokens that carry claims about the user who is trying to authenticate against the system. ADFS can require more configuration and perhaps even code-level security programming, but it allows the user to authenticate in his or her own domain as well as gain access to services and applications that reside outside of that domain by federating their identities to that application domain. Active and passive authentication, along with the use of claims, supports a wide range of integration scenarios.

Within the AppFabric service bus, you can use the native claims that are created when you create a namespace. For example, you created an on-premises service that used the AppFabric service bus to communicate with a WCF service that you then deployed to Windows Azure by using a token and key that was specific to the service bus namespace. Recall that you needed to first create a unique namespace when interacting with the AppFabric service bus. Figure 1 shows what the new service namespace page looks like after you’ve created it. The important thing to note here is that when you interacted with the service bus, you used the key name (in this case, owner) and the management key.

The service bus namespace with properties of the namespace.

Figure 1. The service bus namespace with properties of the namespace.

When you implemented the service, you used the service namespace and the secret key associated with the new namespace to bridge the two service endpoints—even though one service was running on-premises and the other was running in the cloud. As a review, the following code snippet shows the WCF service code that you deployed to Windows Azure that represented the calling code. Note the use of svcNmspc and svcBusSecret in the code; these are then used as core parts of the service bus credentials and the call to ACS:

using Microsoft.ServiceBus;

namespace SharePointCallingSvc
    [AspNetCompatibilityRequirements(RequirementsMode =
    public class SharePointCallingService : ISharePointCallingService
        string svcNmspc = "<service namespace>";
        string svcBusName = "owner";
        string svcBusSecret = "<secret key>
        string svcName = "SPListenerService";

        public List<Sales> GetSales()
            Uri svcURI = Microsoft.ServiceBus.ServiceBusEnvironment.CreateServiceUri(
               "sb", svcNmspc, svcName);

            TransportClientEndpointBehavior svcBusCreds = new
            svcBusCreds.CredentialType = TransportClientCredentialType.SharedSecret;
            svcBusCreds.Credentials.SharedSecret.IssuerName = svcBusName;
            svcBusCreds.Credentials.SharedSecret.IssuerSecret = svcBusSecret;

            NetTcpRelayBinding binding = new NetTcpRelayBinding();

            ChannelFactory<ISalesDataChannel> channelFactory = new
                ChannelFactory<ISalesDataChannel>(binding, new EndpointAddress(svcURI));
            ISalesDataChannel channel = channelFactory.CreateChannel();

            List<Sales> listFromOnPrem = channel.GetSales();

            return listFromOnPrem;


ACS, which is used as part of the core security service within AppFabric, is also quite flexible. For example, in this application code, you’re mapping service endpoints through a token and key; what if you want to provide some level of passive authentication? Or further, what if you want to incorporate OAuth (which is an open security protocol that uses existing security infrastructure such as Windows Live ID or Yahoo ID) to help provide a security layer into your applications? With ACS, this can absolutely be done.

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