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Securing Web Applications with ACS

Published: April 7, 2011

Updated: June 20, 2014

Applies To: Azure

ImportantImportant
As of May 19, 2014, new ACS namespaces cannot use Google as an identity provider. ACS namespaces that used Google and were registered before this date are unaffected. For more information, see Release Notes.

In this scenario a web application needs to integrate with a third-party authentication identity management system.

ACS v2 Web Scenario

There are several challenges associated with the scenario:

  • How to redirect unauthenticated requests to the required identity provider?

  • How to validate the incoming token issued by the identity provider?

  • How to parse the incoming token?

  • How to implement authorization checks?

  • How to transform tokens by adding, removing, or changing the claims types and values?

  • How to do all of the above using configuration rather than coding?

Microsoft Azure Active Directory Access Control (also known as Access Control Service or ACS) provides a solution to the scenario as depicted in the following image.

ACS v2 Web Scenario and Solution


  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) is used to redirect unauthenticated requests to ACS. ACS redirects the requests to the configured identity provider.

  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) is used to validate incoming tokens.

  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) is used to parse the incoming tokens.

  • Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) is used to implement authorization checks.

  • The ACS rule engine is used to transform tokens.

  • Most of the work is done using the configuration either in the application’s web.config or/and through the ACS Management Portal.

See Also

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