Reinventing Authentication with DIDs and Social Logins
How DIDs, VCs, and OAuth integrations can be blended to build better authentication systems.
Hello 0xPass community,
As you may know, we’ve been thinking about authentication and identities for a long time now.
In a world that's rapidly embracing the user-owned web ecosystem, it's crucial for us to rethink and reinvent the methods we employ for user authentication and authorization.
Now, let's say you're working on the next big dApp, and you're considering how to authenticate your users. You understand the importance of security, but you also don't want to alienate non-tech-savvy users. You're looking for something that has the cryptographic security of the blockchain but is as accessible as logging in via Facebook or Google.
An innovative blend of decentralized identifiers (DIDs), verifiable credentials, OAuth integrations with social platforms and threshold signatures can help tackle this challenge.
Let’s breakdown each of these first.
Building User Identities with Decentralized Identifiers & Verifiable Credentials
Envision a future where the user has the power and control over their identity - the credentials they possess are not just entries in a database but a part of a cryptographically secure, decentralized network that can communicate across platforms.
Breaking Down DIDs
Think of DIDs as sleek, modern alternatives to traditional passports. They’re identifiers that are created, owned, and controlled by users. Unlike traditional identifiers, such as usernames, a DID doesn’t require a centralized registry, authority, or intermediary.
For a developer, this means that you can verify the user's identity based on cryptographic proofs, such as digital signatures, which are inherently secure and don't require you to trust a third party.
The Role of Verifiable Credentials
Now, having a DID is great, but how do you, as a developer, allow users to prove certain attributes or claims about themselves? Enter Verifiable Credentials.
Going back to the passport analogy, think of Verifiable Credentials like the stamps or visas in your passport. They're a standardized way to represent information about a DID. For instance, a a as simple as their email address or ownership of a web2 social account can be represented as a Verifiable Credential.
Bridging the Gap with Centralized Protocols
OAuth and Social Identity Providers
In the web2 domain, using OAuth via third-party authentication providers is the norm. OAuth powers services such as "Sign in with Google" or "Log in with Facebook." It revolutionizes user convenience by allowing third-party apps to access users’ information on other platforms without password sharing, but it still relies on centralized identity providers like Google or Facebook.
Integrating DIDs with OAuth for Authentication
Combining the self-sovereignty of DIDs with the convenience of OAuth can yield a harmonized authentication mechanism. Here’s how it can work:
A user authenticates through a social identity provider (e.g., Google) using OAuth.
The application receives an OAuth token.
The application requests the user’s DID and associated Verifiable Credentials.
The user’s agent or wallet provides the requested information (DID and VCs).
The application verifies the DID and Verifiable Credentials independently of the social identity provider.
What we have now is a hybrid model where a user can leverage the ease of social logins and also provide verifiable credentials through DIDs. This is particularly useful in scenarios where a user might want to utilize a service with both their social identity and decentralized credentials.
Also - adding one more step to create an embedded wallets through threshold signature schemes (TSS) allows you to create wallets authenticated by your DID.
Advantages of Combining Decentralized and Centralized Approaches
This integration has several advantages:
User Experience: Users can continue to use familiar authentication methods while also taking advantage of the benefits of decentralized identity systems.
Data Minimization: By using Verifiable Credentials, users can choose to share only the information that is absolutely necessary.
Enhanced Security: DIDs add an additional layer of security, as they do not rely on centralized repositories of user information that are vulnerable to breaches.
Greater Control and Privacy: Users have greater control over their identity and data, as they can provide verifiable claims without the involvement of a central authority.
This hybrid approach is powerful, as it seeks to provide the best of both worlds, addressing the limitations of centralized systems while leveraging the innovations in decentralized identity management.
The Potential Unleashed
Streamlined Identity Management
The integration of DIDs and Verifiable Credentials with OAuth paves the way for streamlined identity management. Users can have a single, self-sovereign identity that can be used across platforms, thus reducing the need for managing multiple accounts.
Enhanced Security and Privacy
Since DIDs leverage blockchain infra, they are secure from the common vulnerabilities that centralized databases face. Additionally, with Verifiable Credentials, users have fine-grained control over the information they share. This means not only more privacy but also less liability for the businesses, as they don’t have to store sensitive data.
Seamless User Experience
Users can use familiar authentication mechanisms such as "Sign in with Google," and still leverage the security and privacy of DIDs and Verifiable Credentials. This duality brings the best of both worlds to the user’s fingertips.
Secure Embedded Wallets
With existing embedded wallet solutions, it is impossible to recover a wallet if the central auth provider is compromised. However with DID, the control is in your hands. Paired with Threshold Signature Schemes (TSS), a user can spawn a new wallet upon a successful authentication through DID.
Programmable Access Control
One of the most powerful aspects of using DID is the ability to have programmable access control. This means that smart contracts can be employed to define complex permissions and access structures, which could dynamically evolve based on context. For instance, a user’s profile might have different access permissions in a professional setting compared to a social setting.
Scalability and Interoperability
DIDs and Verifiable Credentials are standardized, and hence, promote integration across different platforms and services. This level of interoperability is key to creating a more open and connected web.
The Road Ahead
The integration of Web3 authentication with social identities is an exciting development in the realm of digital identities. As technologies continue to evolve, we are moving towards a more secure, private, and user-centric web. The journey, however, is just beginning. It will require collaboration, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to prioritizing user empowerment.