Cloud Authentication Methods and Issues Faced

Cloud Authentication Methods and Issues Faced

Cloud Authentication Methods and Issues Faced

There are multiple methods to authenticate cloud users and many issues that come along with these methods.

Cloud computing is helping businesses to store a large amount of data at relatively low costs but it is essential these service providers offer methods to ensure users are authenticated.

There are multiple authentication techniques in cloud computing suited for different applications and use cases when it comes to the cloud. The best cloud authentication method depends on your preferences but each is a supported method.

Cloud Authentication Methods

  • API Keys

This method doesn’t require client libraries and is transparent to the user. This method identifies the project by creating a strong association between a key and a project. API keys are less secure as they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. API keys can easily be added to any HTTP call as a query parameter in the header because they don’t require a client library.

  • Firebase Authentication

This type of authentication provides backend services, app SDKs, and libraries to authenticate users to a mobile or web app. This method authenticates users, using a variety of credentials like Google, Facebook, Twitter or GitHub. The Firebase authentication method uses a client library to sign a JSON Web Token, JWT, with a private key after the user has successfully signed in. This method then validates the JWT, through a proxy, was signed by Firebase and that the issuer matches the setting in API configuration.

  • Auth0 Authentication

This method not only authenticates and authorizes apps and APIs but it is also stack, device, and identity agnostic. This method supports several providers and security assertion markup language specification. Much like Firebase Authentication, this method also provides backend services, SDKs and user interface libraries for authenticating users in web and mobile apps. Also, like Firebase Authentication, this method validates the JWT was signed and the issuer matches the API configuration.

  • Google Authentication

This authentication method allows users to authenticate by signing in with their Google account. Once the user is authenticated, they have access to all Google services and a Google ID token can be used to make calls to Google APIs and Cloud Endpoints APIs. This method also verifies that the JWT was signed by Google and the issuer is listed on the API configuration.

  • Google Authorization and Service Accounts

With this method, a JWT can be generated and signed using a service account and Google-provided client library for a Google Cloud Platform project. This method uses the public key to validate a Google-signed JWT and to ensure that Google is listed as the issuer in the API configuration. For this method, Google ID tokens are recommended for service accounts because the API producer only needs to whitelist Google as an issuer for all service accounts.

Cloud Computing Authentication Issues

  • Privacy Issues
  • Lack of Transparency
  • Security Issues
  • The Possibility of Exploitation of the Authentication Mechanism
  • Different Authentication Technologies Presents Challenges to Customers

When it comes to cloud computing, service providers require customers to store their account information in the cloud, giving service providers access to this information. For many customers, this presents a privacy issue for them. The lack of transparency in the cloud makes it difficult for customers to ensure the proper rules are enforced. Customers using multiple cloud services have more copies of their information out there in the cloud. This causes security issues for customers and cloud service providers. Multiple copies of accounts lead to multiple authentication processes and provide the possibility to exploit the authentication mechanism. Cloud service providers use different authentication technologies for authenticating users and while this has less of an impact on SaaS than PaaS and IaaS, it presents challenges to customers.

The major importance of authentication in cloud computing is for users to ensure their projects and information are safe and there when they need it. While there are still a few issues associated with cloud service providers being able to perform authentication methods without any challenges or security fears, it is important to remember just how new cloud computing is and the amount of room it has for progress.

Emily Pribanic
Emily Pribanic
Emily is a graduate of the University of North Texas. She has her B.A. in Advertising with a concentration in Copywriting. Emily has been writing since she was young and has a creative imagination. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her family and two cats.

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