Using PKCE in authorization code grants with Amazon Cognito user pools - Amazon Cognito
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Using PKCE in authorization code grants with Amazon Cognito user pools

Amazon Cognito supports Proof Key for Code Exchange (PKCE) authentication in authorization code grants. PKCE is an extension to the OAuth 2.0 authorization code grant for public clients. PKCE guards against the redemption of intercepted authorization codes.

How Amazon Cognito uses PKCE

To start authentication with PKCE, your application must generate a unique string value. This string is the code verifier, a secret value that Amazon Cognito uses to compare the client requesting the initial authorization grant to the client exchanging the authorization code for tokens.

Your app must apply an SHA256 hash to the code verifier string and encode the result to base64. Pass the hashed string to the Authorize endpoint as a code_challenge parameter in the request body. When your app exchanges the authorization code for tokens, it must include the code verifier string in plaintext as a code_verifier parameter in the request body to the Token endpoint. Amazon Cognito performs the same hash-and-encode operation on the code verifier. Amazon Cognito only returns ID, access, and refresh tokens if it determines that the code verifier results in the same code challenge that it received in the authorization request.

To implement Authorization Grant Flow with PKCE
  1. Open the Amazon Cognito console. If prompted, enter your Amazon credentials.

  2. Choose User Pools.

  3. Choose an existing user pool from the list, or create a user pool. If you create a user pool, you will be prompted to set up an app client and configure the hosted UI during the wizard.

    1. If you create a new user pool, set up an app client and configure the hosted UI during the guided setup.

    2. If you configure an existing user pool, add a domain and a public app client, if you haven’t already.

  4. Generate a random alphanumeric string, typically a universally unique identifier (UUID), to create a code challenge for the PKCE. This string is the value of the code_verifier parameter that you will submit in your request to the Token endpoint.

  5. Hash the code_verifier string with the SHA256 algorithm. Encode the result of the hashing operation to base64. This string is the value of the code_challenge parameter that you will submit in your request to the Authorize endpoint.

    The following Python example generates a code_verifier and calculates the code_challenge:

    #!/usr/bin/env python3 import random from base64 import urlsafe_b64encode from hashlib import sha256 from string import ascii_letters from string import digits # use a cryptographically strong random number generator source rand = random.SystemRandom() code_verifier = ''.join(rand.choices(ascii_letters + digits, k=128)) code_verifier_hash = sha256(code_verifier.encode()).digest() code_challenge = urlsafe_b64encode(code_verifier_hash).decode().rstrip('=') print(f"code challenge: {code_challenge}") print(f"code verifier: {code_verifier}")

    The following is an example output from the Python script:

    code challenge: Eh0mg-OZv7BAyo-tdv_vYamx1boOYDulDklyXoMDtLg code verifier: 9D-aW_iygXrgQcWJd0y0tNVMPSXSChIc2xceDhvYVdGLCBk-JWFTmBNjvKSdOrjTTYazOFbUmrFERrjWx6oKtK2b6z_x4_gHBDlr4K1mRFGyE8yA-05-_v7Dxf3EIYJH
  6. Complete hosted UI sign-in with an authorization code grant request with PKCE. The following is an example URL:
  7. Collect the authorization code and redeem it for tokens with the token endpoint. The following is an example request:

    POST /oauth2/token HTTP/1.1 Host: Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded Content-Length: 296 client_id=1example23456789& code=7378f445-c87f-400c-855e-0297d072ff03& grant_type=authorization_code& code_verifier=9D-aW_iygXrgQcWJd0y0tNVMPSXSChIc2xceDhvYVdGLCBk-JWFTmBNjvKSdOrjTTYazOFbUmrFERrjWx6oKtK2b6z_x4_gHBDlr4K1mRFGyE8yA-05-_v7Dxf3EIYJH
  8. Review the response. It will contain ID, access, and refresh tokens. For more information about using Amazon Cognito user pool tokens, see Using tokens with user pools.