Working with LDAP and LTPA in IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation 8.0 Beta


The ability to connect an application to a user registry is an important ability. You might want your users to be able to connect to your back-end systems with the same credentials that they use to connect to other resources in the enterprise, or you just need to connect the user to the registry. LDAP is an established protocol for connecting to a user registry.

In this blog post,you will see how to connect a MobileFirst Server to LDAP and allow the users to authenticate by using LTPA. LTPA is an authentication technology that is used in IBM WebSphere products. When accessing web servers that use the LTPA technology it is possible for a user to re-use their login across physical servers.

You can find the sample application that is demonstrated in this blog post in this GitHub repository.

With this hands-on sample, you can run an iOS application that can do authentication against a remote LDAP server or against a basic user registry (both configured in server.xml).

The big picture

Here is diagram that shows the flow:


  1. User clicks the Invoke LTPA Based Protected Resource button.
  2. The client SDK sends the resource request to a protected REST Adapter /hello/user, the adapter is protected with LTPA OAuth scope.
  3. Because the adapter is protected the Authorization server API check it for valid OAuth token.
  4. The Authorization server API does not find any valid token with OAuth scope LTPA.
  5. The response is then returned to the app with unauthorized status with challenge containing the login URL pointing to the Protected WAR, as configured in the Security Check.
  6. The app is invoking the LTPAChallengeHandler challenge handler.
  7. The challenge handler is prompting a login form to the user.
  8. The user submits their credentials and the app sends them to the login URL. In case of successful login, the client receives an LTPA cookie.
  9. The client submits the challenge answer.
  10. The client SDK calls the authorization end point with the LTPA token (as HTTP cookie).
  11. The ltpa-based-security-check security check validates that the LTPA token was issued for a valid user.
  12. The OAuth flow continues until the client gets a valid OAuth token.
  13. The client resends the request to the protected REST Adapter /hello/user with the valid OAuth token.
  14. Client gets the user ID and user name, and displays hello {user} dialog :-).

The LTPA Security Check

Websphere Liberty server is working seamlessly with LTPA and allows access to the authenticated user details in the security check adapter. The LTPA validation happens in the security check:

 String principal = WSSubject.getCallerPrincipal();

This line returns the caller Principal name.

To get the Subject that provides additional user information, such as the user’s OU, Groups, or Privileges, use the following code:


Note: You can add attributes can be added to the AuthenticatedUser by using the user.getAttributes() map.

The ltpa-based-security-check security check is checking for existing principal (which comes from the LTPA request cookie):

String principal = WSSubject.getCallerPrincipal();
if (principal != null) {
   // if a caller principal exists - mark as authenticated, and return success
   AuthenticatedUser user = new AuthenticatedUser(principal, principal, getName());
   response.addSuccess(scope, getExpiresAt(), getName());
   logger.fine("LTPABased authorization: user authenticated (" + principal + ")");

} else {

   // a caller principal does not exist - drop the state and return challenge
   Map<String, Object> challenge = new HashMap<>();
   challenge.put("loginURL", getConfiguration().loginURL);
   response.addChallenge(getName(), challenge);
   logger.fine("LTPABased authorization: sending challenge for " + getConfiguration().loginURL);
Inclusive terminology note: The Mobile First Platform team is making changes to support the IBM® initiative to replace racially biased and other discriminatory language in our code and content with more inclusive language. While IBM values the use of inclusive language, terms that are outside of IBM's direct influence are sometimes required for the sake of maintaining user understanding. As other industry leaders join IBM in embracing the use of inclusive language, IBM will continue to update the documentation to reflect those changes.
Last modified on July 27, 2016