ASP.NET Core Identity Tutorials
In this ASP.NET Core Identity Tutorials For Beginners and Professionals series, I will cover all the features of ASP.NET Core Identity. You will learn from the basic to advanced level features of ASP.NET Core Identity as we progress in this ASP.NET Core Identity tutorial. Many new developers and students are struggling to learn ASP.NET Core Identity quickly, so I have prepared this course so that you can learn ASP.NET Core Identity very easily and in depth.
For whom are these ASP.NET Core Identity Tutorials?
These ASP.NET Core Identity Tutorials are designed for Beginners and Professional Developers who want to learn ASP.NET Core Identity step by step. Here, in these ASP.NET Core Identity Tutorials, we will provide a hands-on approach to the subject with step-by-step program examples that will assist you in learning and putting the acquired knowledge into practice.
Important Note: To take full advantage of this course, please read all the articles in the sequence we uploaded. Each article is linked with its previous articles, so if you miss any article, you will find it difficult to understand the concepts. I will explain all the ASP.NET Core Identity concepts using a Single ASP.NET Core MVC Application.
What is ASP.NET Core Identity?
ASP.NET Core Identity is a Membership System that provides login functionality to your application. It’s an API that supports login functionality, including user registration, sign-in, sign-out, password recovery, role-based authentication, third-party authentication, two-factor authentication, etc. Here are the key features of ASP.NET Core Identity:
- User Management: Provides functionality for creating, updating, deleting, and querying user accounts.
- Roles Management: Supports role-based authorization. Roles are used to group users with common access permissions.
- Password Management: It has built-in functionality for password hashing, password validation policies, account lockout, and other security features to protect user accounts.
- User Authentication: It provides functionality for authenticating users. Authentication is the process of determining a user’s identity.
- User Authorization: Once a user is authenticated, ASP.NET Core Identity can authorize user access to certain resources or functionalities within an application based on roles or claims.
- Claims-Based Authentication: Allows the assignment of claims to users, which can be used for identity and access control.
- External Login Providers: Supports integration with external authentication providers like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): It supports two-factor authentication (2FA), enhancing the security of your application by requiring a second form of user verification.
- Data Stores: By default, it uses Entity Framework Core to store user data, but you can customize it to use different storage mechanisms.
- Customizable and Extensible: Offers the flexibility to customize the User Model, Role Model, and Validation Logic and Integrate with existing databases.
- Security Features: Support for account confirmation, password recovery, and prevention against common attacks like SQL injection, CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery), and XSS (Cross-Site Scripting).
ASP.NET Core Identity Key Components:
ASP.NET Core Identity is a robust framework for managing users, passwords, profile data, roles, claims, tokens, and email confirmation. Here’s an overview of its key components:
Identity Core Components:
- UserManager: This class in ASP.NET Core Identity is responsible for managing users in the application. It provides functionality for creating, updating, deleting, and retrieving user information from the ASP.NET Core Identity database.
- RoleManager: This class in ASP.NET Core Identity is responsible for managing roles in the application. It provides functionality for creating, updating, deleting, retrieving roles, and assigning them to users.
- SignInManager: This class in ASP.NET Core Identity is responsible for handling the sign-in and sign-out operations. It also provides functionalities for two-factor authentication and external authentication.
- IdentityUser: This is the default User class in ASP.NET Core Identity which includes common properties like UserName, Email, PhoneNumber, etc. This class can also be extended to include custom properties for additional user information as per your business requirements, such as First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, etc.
- IdentityRole: This is the default Role class in the ASP.NET Core Identity to store the Role information such as Role ID and Name. This class can also be extended to include custom role information such as Role Description.
- Identity Options: Provides configuration options for identity, such as Password Strength Policies, Lockout Duration, and Cookie settings for the default login page, default access denied page, etc.
- User Validator and Password Validator: Provide Validation Services for user information and passwords.
- EmailSender and SmsSender: Services like EmailSender and SmsSender for email confirmation and two-factor authentication.
Authentication and Authorization:
- Cookies: ASP.NET Core Identity uses cookie-based authentication by default.
- Claims-Based Authorization: Supports creating and managing user claims, which are used for authorization decisions.
- External Login Providers: Integration with external authentication providers like Google, Facebook, etc.
- IdentityDbContext: This is the Identity Context Class Inherited from the Entity Framework Core DbContext class. This class is responsible for interacting with the ASP.NET Core Identity database that stores the identity data.
- ClaimsPrinciple: In ASP.NET Core Identity, the authenticated user’s identity is represented as a ClaimsPrincipal object. Claims are key-value pairs representing user information, such as user ID, email address, name, role, or other data relevant to the user’s identity within an application.
Architecture Flow of ASP.NET Core Identity:
The Architecture Flow of ASP.NET Core Identity involves several key components working together to manage user authentication and authorization. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how these components interact in a typical ASP.NET Core application:
User Registration and Login:
- When a new user registers or an existing user login, the request is handled by the ASP.NET Core Controllers.
- For Registration, the UserManager class is used to create a new user. This involves saving user details and hashed passwords in the Identity Database.
- For login, the SignInManager class is used to authenticate the user based on the provided credentials.
- Upon Successful Authentication, an identity cookie is created, which contains the authenticated user information and is sent to the user’s browser for session management. That cookie might be a session cookie or a persistent cookie. Session cookies are deleted when the browser is closed, and persistent cookies stay for a longer period of time. With persistent cookies, user login is not required every time we visit the website.
Role and Claim Management:
- Upon Successful Registration or Login, user claims and roles (if any) are retrieved from the database using UserManager and stored in the IdentityUser object.
- These claims and roles define the user’s identity and permissions within the application. These identities determine what the authenticated user can and cannot do. This means the user’s claims and roles determine which pages or resources the user can access.
Cookie Creation and Authentication Ticket:
- Once the user is authenticated, an authentication ticket is created. This ticket contains the user’s identity information, including claims and roles.
- The authentication ticket is encrypted and stored in a cookie. This cookie is sent to the user’s browser.
- With each subsequent request from the user, i.e., the client, the browser sends the authentication cookie along with the request.
- The authentication middleware in ASP.NET Core Identity decrypts the cookie and reconstructs the user’s identity, creating a ClaimsPrincipal object.
- When a user tries to access a protected resource or functionality, the authorization middleware checks the user’s ClaimsPrincipal object.
- Authorization can be role-based or policy-based, where policies are configured based on claims.
- The middleware determines whether the user’s claims meet the requested resource’s requirements.
User Management and Customization:
- Throughout the application’s lifecycle, UserManager and RoleManager manage user details, roles, and claims, allowing for dynamic updates to user permissions.
- Developers can extend or customize these classes’ behavior to fit their application’s specific needs. That means you can extend the ASP.NET Core Identity built-in classes as per your requirements.
- When a user logs out, the SignInManager handles the process, which typically involves invalidating the user’s authentication cookie.
External Authentication Providers:
- Suppose external authentication providers (like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft) are used. In that case, the flow involves redirecting the user to the external provider for authentication and then creating the user identity based on the information provided by the external service.
Data Storage and Customization:
- By default, ASP.NET Core Identity information is stored in an SQL Server database using Entity Framework Core, but it can be customized to use other databases.
- The IdentityDbContext interacts with the database to perform CRUD operations on identity-related data.
When to Use ASP.NET Core Identity?
ASP.NET Core Identity is a comprehensive membership system for adding login functionality to ASP.NET Core applications. It’s ideal to use it in the following scenarios:
- User Authentication and Authorization: ASP.NET Core Identity provides an out-of-the-box solution if your application requires membership management. It’s particularly useful when you need standard user registration, login functionalities, like username and password, and more advanced features, like external logins (Google, Facebook, etc.) and two-factor authentication.
- Role-Based Access Control: When your application needs to assign users to roles and grant or restrict access based on these roles, ASP.NET Core Identity simplifies this process. It allows you to manage roles and assign them to users, enabling role-based authorization in your application.
- Security and Compliance Needs: If your application handles sensitive user data and needs to comply with security standards (Data Encryption, Secure Authentication, Access Control, Secure Session Management, Input Validation, and Sanitization, etc.), ASP.NET Core Identity provides essential security features. These include password hashing, account lockout, data protection, and prevention of common security vulnerabilities like CSRF, XSS, and SQL injection.
- Custom User Data Requirements: When you need to extend the user information stored in the database, ASP.NET Core Identity allows you to extend the user model easily. You can add additional properties to the user profile according to your application’s needs.
- Integration with ASP.NET Core: For projects already using ASP.NET Core, integrating ASP.NET Core Identity is straightforward. It’s designed to work seamlessly with ASP.NET Core’s middleware, dependency injection, and configuration systems.
- API Authentication: For applications that expose APIs (like web APIs), ASP.NET Core Identity can be used alongside token-based authentication methods (such as JWT) to secure API endpoints.
However, there are situations where ASP.NET Core Identity might be an overkill or not suitable:
- Simple Authentication Needs: If your application requires a basic authentication mechanism without roles, external logins, or other advanced features, implementing a custom solution might be more straightforward.
- Microservices Architecture: In a microservices setup, where identity concerns are handled centrally by an Identity Provider (IdP), using ASP.NET Core Identity in each service might not be ideal. Instead, centralized OAuth or OpenID Connect providers are commonly used.
What is an XSS Attack in a Web Application?
An XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) attack is a type of security vulnerability typically found in web applications. This flaw allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. XSS attacks exploit a user’s trust in a particular site and can have various consequences.
What is a CSRF Attack in a Web Application?
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attack in a web application is a type of security vulnerability that exploits a web application’s trust in a user’s browser. It allows an attacker to perform actions on behalf of a user without their consent or knowledge.
What is a SQL injection Attack in a Web Application?
A SQL Injection Attack is a type of cybersecurity vulnerability that occurs in a web application when an attacker can manipulate a SQL query through the application’s user input. The risk arises primarily due to insufficient input validation, allowing the attacker to insert or “inject” their own malicious SQL code into the query.
Prerequisites to Learn ASP.NET Core Identity
To learn ASP.NET Core Identity effectively, having a solid foundation in certain technologies and concepts is crucial. Here are the key prerequisites:
- Basic Understanding of ASP.NET Core: Familiarity with the fundamentals of ASP.NET Core, including MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. Understanding of how to create web applications using ASP.NET Core.
- C# Programming Language: Proficiency in C#, the primary language used for developing in ASP.NET Core. Understanding basic programming concepts like loops, conditionals, classes, and methods.
- Entity Framework Core: Understanding of Entity Framework Core, which is commonly used for database operations in ASP.NET Core applications. Familiarity with concepts like DbContext, LINQ queries, and database migrations.
- Basic Understanding of Databases: Knowledge of relational databases and SQL. Understanding how to design databases and work with tables, relationships, and queries.
- Knowledge of Authentication and Authorization Concepts: Understanding what authentication and authorization mean and how they differ. Familiarity with basic security concepts in web development, like encryption, hashing, and secure data transmission.
- Understanding of HTTP and Web APIs: Basic knowledge of HTTP protocol, request/response patterns, and status codes. Familiarity with RESTful services and how Web APIs work.
- Visual Studio and Development Tools: Familiarity with Visual Studio IDE, as it’s commonly used for ASP.NET Core development. Understanding of how to use tools like NuGet for package management.
- Basic Knowledge of JSON and XML: Understanding of data interchange formats like JSON and XML, as they are often used in web applications for data transfer.
- Understanding of Dependency Injection: Knowledge of dependency injection and its importance in ASP.NET Core for managing dependencies.
Note: If we missed any topics in this ASP.NET Core Identity Course, please let us know by leaving a comment in the Comment Box, and we promise that we will publish articles on that topic as soon as possible.
Lastly, your valuable feedback is essential and means a lot to us. So, if you have a few minutes, please let us know your thoughts and feedback on this ASP.NET Core Identity course.