This post is the first out of three blog posts summarizing my (Louis Jannett) research on the design, security, and privacy of real-world Single Sign-On (SSO) implementations. It is based on my master's thesis that I wrote between April and October 2020 at the Chair for Network and Data Security.
We structured this blog post series into three parts according to the research questions of my master's thesis: Single Sign-On Protocols in the Wild, PostMessage Security in Single Sign-On, and Privacy in Single Sign-On Protocols.
Although previous work uncovered various security flaws in SSO, it did not work out uniform protocol descriptions of real-world SSO implementations. We summarize our in-depth analyses of Apple, Google, and Facebook SSO. We also refer to the sections of the thesis
that provide more detailed insights into the protocol flows and messages.
It turned out that the postMessage API is commonly used in real-world SSO implementations. We introduce the reasons for this and propose security best practices on how to implement postMessage in SSO. Further, we present vulnerabilities on top-visited websites that caused DOM-based XSS and account takeovers due to insecure use of postMessage in SSO.
Identity Providers (IdPs) use "zero-click" authentication flows to automatically sign in the user on the Service Provider (SP) once it is logged in on the IdP and has consented. We show that these flows can harm user privacy and enable new targeted deanonymization attacks of the user's identity.