Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ADFS : Using the client_credentials flow with ADFS 4.0 returns 401

Been battling with this for ages. I'm using ADFS 4.0 on Server 2016.

My web site uses OpenID Connect and that uses the OWIN authorisation code grant.

When I use the authorisation code grant,  I can get the code, exchange the code for an access token and then call a web API with that access token no problem.

But that flow requires a user to authenticate and for some of my use cases there is no user. An example would be a forgotten password flow where the user cannot authenticate. To do that, I use the client_credentials flow.

Getting this to work was a non-trivial task since the documentation is (shall we say) sub optimal.

I also needed the ADAL Nuget package. Interesting that you can mix OWIN and ADAL

So under "Application Groups", I have the "Server application accessing a web API" scenario.

The server application has a client ID and the secret key.

So assume the general API URL is:


And the API's inside this are like:


The web API in the wizard has the RP identifier:


(This matches the ValidAudience below).

Access control policy is:

Permit everyone

I have one custom claim rule:

c:[] => issue(claim = c);

Now there is no way to pass these claims back in the JWT but I added this during my troubleshooting.

Client permissions is set to:

"All clients"

with scope of:

openid and user_impersonation.

The web API controller is decorated with  [Authorize].

The code is:

using Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory;

ClientCredential clientCredential = new ClientCredential(clientId, secretKey);

AuthenticationContext ac = new AuthenticationContext("https://my-adfs/adfs/", false);
AuthenticationResult result = await ac.AcquireTokenAsync("https://my-pc/WebService"

HttpRequestMessage request = new HttpRequestMessage(HttpMethod.Post,  
request.Headers.Authorization = new AuthenticationHeaderValue("Bearer", result.AccessToken);

HttpContent content = new FormUrlEncodedContent(new[] { new KeyValuePair<string,  
string>("foo", "blah"), new KeyValuePair<string, string>("foo1", "blah1") });
request.Content = content;
HttpResponseMessage response = await client.SendAsync(request);

if (response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
    // etc

To call a second API, it's the same code with one change:

HttpRequestMessage request = new HttpRequestMessage(HttpMethod.Post, "https://my-pc/WebService/api/my-api1/");

I also has to change to code for the web API App_Start, Startup.Auth.cs.

    new ActiveDirectoryFederationServicesBearerAuthenticationOptions
        TokenValidationParameters = new TokenValidationParameters()
            SaveSigninToken = true,
            ValidAudience = "https://my-pc/WebService"
        MetadataEndpoint = "https://my-adfs/FederationMetadata/2007-06/FederationMetadata.xml"


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