Invoking Oracle PaaS service APIs protected by OAuth

Oracle PaaS services are typically protected by Identity Cloud Service (IDCS), which provides unified access management for the Oracle Cloud. This protection extends to their exposed APIs, which usually require you to present a valid access token as part of your invocation. Unfortunately, the documentation for a number of the services tends to assume that the reader has an in-depth knowledge of OAuth concepts, and IDCS operations.

Typically my blog posts are around specific proof of concept things I have been working on, or go in-depth into more advanced IDCS concepts, but I have realised (mostly because people kept asking me…) that many developers using these services don’t have a strong practical understanding of OAuth, and struggle to interpret the documentation around the authentication requirements for the services. This blog post is designed to provide a step by step explanation of what is required from an IDCS perspective, as well as an explanation of the techniques to obtain a an access token to use the service APIs.

A non-exhaustive list of PaaS services for which these instructions are applicable:

  • Oracle Integration Cloud
  • Oracle Blockchain Platform
  • Oracle API Platform Cloud Service
  • Oracle Mobile Hub
  • Oracle Digital Assistant
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Using Public/Private Key Authentication for Oracle IDCS

In a recent blog post, I added a throwaway reference to the use of signed assertions as a better mechanism for interacting with the Oracle Identity Cloud Service REST APIs than the use of Client id/secret, though qualified it with ‘if you want to handle the additional complexity in your consuming client’.  Reflecting upon this, I thought that perhaps it was worth trying to explain this ‘additional complexity’, since the use of signed assertions have a number of benefits; primarily that it does not require an exchange of sensitive information, as the private keys used to sign the assertion never need to leave the machine on which they are generated. In this blog post, I will delve deeper into what is required to leverage this authentication mechanism, for both clients and users.

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Custom User Activation and Password Reset Flows in Oracle IDCS

Oracle’s Identity Cloud Service is typically associated with its role in acting as the primary identity store for Oracle’s Cloud services – acting as the gatekeeper for administrators and developers, and providing single-sign-on across Oracle services for end users. However, thanks to its API-first design, it is also very capable of acting as a headless OAuth server and user store, providing authenticated access to custom applications and APIs. When these custom applications are customer facing, you will want fine-grained control over your user experience, without them interacting with IDCS directly. In this post we will explore implementing custom user activation and password reset flows; which provides the opportunity to implement pixel perfect UIs, modify the flows for different classes of users, or just do whatever your custom application requires.

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Making access easy but secure

So following on from my earlier article, Policies let your teams play safe, I have been given another challenge: Can we give our users single sign on now that each team can play safely in their own Oracle Cloud Infrastructure compartments?

Single sign on delivers a number of really important benefits. Firstly, the user experience is much smoother and seamless as users don’t get prompted for multiple passwords and don’t have to remember even more passwords. More importantly, single sign on eliminates the need to manage multiple stores of identities. This can be a big overhead for administrators and sometimes open up additional risks. Finally, an enterprise wide identity solution can often provide additional capabilities can be leveraged by your Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

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