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Flask-based CAS Server using SAML authentication

Project description

CAS Server for Flask using SAML IDP


FlaskCasSaml is Central Authentication Service (CAS) server that uses a SAML2 server perform the IDP authentication. FlaskCasSamle is a Python application utilizing the Flask web framework

This allows legacy CAS applications to utilize contemporary Identity Management platform that support SAML2 authentication. The difference between any other CAS server and the bridge is that the authentication dialog is handled by the SAML IdP.

The protocol flow thus combines both CAS and SAML:

  • Client accesses a legacy CAS app, invoking a login.
  • The app redirects the user to /cas/login on the FlaskCasSaml server
  • If the client has not already authenticated with the bridge (i.e. has no Ticket Granting Ticket cookie), it is redirected to the SAML IdP login URL for authentication.
  • The SAML IdP validates the user via dialog or SSO.
  • The SAML Response is posted back (through the client) to the SAML assertion control service on the FlasCasSaml
  • The signature on the SAML response is verified and the SAML assertions are saved in a session for the client.
  • The client is then redirected back to the FlasCasSaml /cas/login
  • The bridge returns a CAS Ticket Granting Ticket (TGT) as a cookie, and a Session Ticket back to the client with a redirect back to the legacy CAS application.
  • The CAS application service validates the service ticket with the FlasCasSaml version specific cas endpoint.
  • Depending on the CAS version configured and the API used the bridge returns the attributes for the user to the application.
  • The client is then authenticated with the CAS application.

CAS Support

FlasCasSaml supports the CAS Protocol v1, v2, and v3 as defined by V2 of the CAS Specification with a few options not implemented.
These unemplemented features are lesser used items that did not fit within the SSO experience:

  • gateway - section 2.1.1 #3 - the specification is unclear on the implementation, and the value of the feature I felt was suspect.
  • logon credential receptor - section 2.2 - I don't belive this can be implemented with a SAML IdP.
  • /cas/validate (the version 1 endpoint) returns the user login on a successful validation. Though not part of the CAS spec almost all CAS servers do this.

FlasCasSaml has been tested against Microsoft Azure AD and PHP SimpleSaml IdPs. If you use this with other IdPs I'd like to hear your experience.


It's recommended that you install BottleCasBridge in a venv. Some familiarity with Python apps is desirable.

# pip install FlaskCasSaml

This will install Flask, Flask-Session, FlaskSamlSP, and their dependencies.

There is a sample application and an example (for building your included with the distribution or available on github.

The basic structure of the CAS bridge is simple:

from flask import Flask
from flask_session import Session
from FlaskSaml import FlaskSP
from FlaskCasSaml import CasBridge

from config import saml_config, session_config, cas_config

app = Flask(__name__)

saml = FlaskSP(saml_config=saml_config,app=app)
cas = CasBridge(app, saml,config=cas_config)

The real work is in configuring the components and the IdP to all work together.

Session and Ticket Configuration

FlaskCasSaml uses Flask-Session (which in turn uses Pallets cachelib) to provide flexible configuration for both user sessions and ticket storage. This can include memory or filebased caching as well as Redis or memcached mechanism.

Details on configuring the cache is Flask-Session documentation with more current details in the Pallets project cachelib documentation.

The simplist deployment suitable for testing is a memory based cache not requiring detailed options, however in a production deployment you will want to consider FileSystem, Memcached, or Redis as the cache backing.

SAML Configuration

You will need to configure the SamlSP module with details on the SAML IdP.

Some notes on SAML with FlaskCasSaml:

  • Uses the Flask Saml service provider implementation
  • Does not sign SAML Requests, though it verifies the SAML signature on the SAML Response.
  • Considers assertions received valid for 3600 Seconds from authentication regardless of CONDITIONS statements. (This is based on limitations of the minisaml implementation used.)
  • Assertions are available in the v2/v3 CAS validation data.

Configue for your SAML IdP according to the documentation for CasSamlSP This will include endpoints, entity id's, etc.

Configuring CAS

CasBridge(app, auth=saml, config=cas_config, backing=None)
  • By default session backing is provided by the caching mechanism used by Flask-Session for maintaining session state. You can however set backing= to a cacheLib instance; this will keep CAS tickets in another backing store (e.g. Redis or Memcached)

Cas config options

parameter type default description
cas_st_life Seconds 300 Service Ticket TTL
cas_tgt_life Seconds 86060 Ticket Granting Ticket life
cas_pgt_life Seconds 46060 Proxy Granting Ticket life
cas_service_filename string None Path to services file
cas_proxys_filename string None Path to proxys file
cas_proxy_support book True Enable CAS proxy endpoint support
cas_config = {
    "cas_st_life" : 500,
    "cas_tgt_life" : 28800, 
    "cas_services_filename" : "/configs/cas_services.json",
    "cas_proxy_support" : True

cas_service_file and cas_proxy_file files

These are files with a JSON list of service/targetService) URL's from CAS applications that are permitted to use the CAS bridage. In the case of the cas_proxy_file these are acceptable pgtUrl for proxy validations.

URLs are checked with forced lower case matching. The URL from the request service parameter must start with one of the URLs in the list.

['', '']

If cas_service_file or cas_proxy_files are not specified, CasBridge works as an open CAS server (unadvised) meaning any CAS app can use the bridge to authenticate (or proxy.)

Considerations for Production

  • The default Bottle WSGI server is designed for development and maybe test, and is not suitable for production.
  • The default memory-base Flask-Session (null) cache will not work in a multi-process environment. You can use FileSystem for a single-node solution, but will require memcached or Redis for multi-node solutions.
  • Use TLS.
  • If you do not have apps that require it, disable the proxy endpoints (cas_proxy_support=False).
  • Restrict what services can use the bridge with the cas_service_file and cas_proxy_file settings.

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