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4.0 - Login Handlers

Login Handlers are the different methods for logging into the IPS Social Suite. We currently support:

  • "Internal", which is for accounts created natively through the suite.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Microsoft (this is currently referred to as "Windows Live", though they rebranded to "Microsoft Account" a short while ago)
  • LDAP
  • "IPS Connect", which is our SSO solution for connecting your site with other IPS Social Suite installations or third-party applications.
  • A generic handler for any MySQL database you have access to.

In 4.0 we've made a number of changes to the Login Handlers which I wanted to mention.

Improved Password Encryption

We currently use a salted md5 hash for hashing passwords. md5 has been a popular password hashing technique for years - however, it is not the most secure hashing method.

md5 is designed to be computationally efficient (meaning generating a hash is quick). The problem with this is that if a server were ever compromised to the point that someone were able to gain access to a database containing passwords hashed using md5, and someone were to use a program to generate and hash different strings repeatedly until a match were found, the password could be worked out. One particularly well-known program claims to be able to make 5.6 billion md5 hashes per second with a relatively modern GPU. Even with our hashing method which includes multi-level hashing and a salt, this means, assuming an 8-character long password using only alphanumeric characters were used, a password could be calculated in about 3 days.

While I'm unaware of any cases of this actually happening, we want to make sure that our products are as secure as they can be. For this reason, in 4.0, we're migrating to Blowfish. Blowfish is a more cryptographically secure technique for generating hashes that is deliberately slow, meaning that even if your database were ever compromised, the passwords will still be secure.

New Login Handlers

In addition to the Login Handlers mentioned above, we've added support for Google and LinkedIn.

Improved Facebook and Twitter support

Currently, although you can log in with Facebook and Twitter, they're not treated on the back-end as true Login Handers. This is because of how Login Handlers in 3.x were designed (which was before such 3rd party login services were popular) in that they assumed you would provide a username (or email) and password directly into a form, and subsequently didn't accommodate the OAuth-style login processes.

Since we've rewritten the way Login Handlers are designed, this means we can treat Facebook and Twitter (and Google and LinkedIn which both also use OAuth) exactly the same as the rest.

Practically, this means you'll see Facebook and Twitter in the Login Handlers section of the Admin CP, and manage them as you would any other login method.

Updated Microsoft Support

Microsoft now support OAuth for login through them so we've updated to use that. In addition to being necessary for when they stop supporting the old way, it's much easier to set up for the administrator.

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