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Authentication hooks

Hi folks. Some may remember me from back in the day. I was pretty active on the old BW NWN forums and I spent almost a decade working on the Avlis PW.

I'd like to re-raise an issue that's been plaguing NWN PW's for a long time and that's the dependence on the Master Server as the sole arbiter of player authentication. Towards the end of its support lifetime there were several outages which usually happened during a weekend. Evenings and weekends of course are our Prime Time and the studio's downtime. To not have the game available during those outages were extremely frustrating. And then, without warning, it went away completely.

For the love of little green goblins please don't inflict that situation on the NWN PW community again. Please add hooks into password authentication that allows a PW to manage their own player base without having to pray that the MS is online. This community has proven that it will outlast the studios behind the product please don't insult us with claims that the new MS will last forever.

Possible implementation. A server may override the following function:

struct authResults {
bool approved;
String errorMessage:
};

authResults clientAuthCallback(String accountId, String hmac);

This function is called when a client logs into a server if the approved val is false then the text of the errorMessage is displayed to the user. Please be a string and not an index of canned messages because you'll never cover all possible messages. If the approved value is true then the login process proceeds as normal.

The accountId should be obvious. The hmac argument should be an irreversible hash of the password the player has typed into the password field. Cleartext passwords are wholly unnecessary and extremely dangerous.

OrleronPekarionGorgonSephiraRaynesSarmanosFlashburnPorkinsRifleLeroy

Comments

  • MavrixioMavrixio Member Posts: 14
    I agree that there should be a way to handle the authentication server side another reason is to keep the current players accounts:
    https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/67008/custom-players-authentifications#latest

    SarmanosRifleLeroy
  • SarmanosSarmanos Member Posts: 16
    Can't emphasize enough how important this is. Master server downtime along with its eventual demise were the two things that killed NWN multiplayer participation more than anything. A backup method of some kind needs to be present going forth that will let people keep going and see and log into servers should the new master server either be down or for whatever reason no longer available.

    shadguy
  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26
    edited November 2017
    This really does need to be addressed. A simple "Awesome, we'll get right on it." or "No, sorry." would suffice.

    Actually, how dependent on the Master Server Redux will NWN:EE be? Classic NWN had a switch to ignore it when it failed. Will NWN:EE server have the same freedom? If a server can't ignore a MS outage then NWN:EE is unsuitable for PW usage.

    Yes I know there was some discussion on one of the livestreams. I have better things to do with my life than watch TV.

  • xordacxordac Member Posts: 7
    As a server admin I agree with the many topics going around. I am looking to keep backwards compatibility. Which thanks to Mavrixio now I have a way to do this. Any feature that gets removed under mantle of security is a big draw back/kick in the chin for server admins. The server admins need to be the ones that have the options to choose what they would like to do if the new master server goes down or if they even want to use it as we have already moved past needing one with the nwnx plugins and nwnscripts to secure your server without the need of one.

    RifleLeroy
  • BlessedAdversaryBlessedAdversary Member Posts: 14
    I'd also be interested in what Beamdog thinks about this.

    Sarmanos
  • nivniv Member, Moderator, Developer Posts: 374
    Hello,

    I hope I can address some concerns.

    Password authentication is not possible. The server never sees the player password - as we don't have passwords anymore! All that has been removed, including the UI for it.

    Specifically, as far as authentication factors go, the server sees:

    * The players' IP address (obviously).
    * The player name.
    * The public CD key.
    * A salted hash of the private key, and the salt.
    * The response from the masterserver if public, private and salt are a match.
    * The old public keys tuple, if present.

    Now, what you could easily do with NWNX is hook into this and add another layer of checks to it; maybe to compare it against your local database. However, keep in mind:

    * You'll still have to authenticate against the masterserver in order to be sure a public key is actually a valid player and not a fake/griefer. Also, for obvious business reasons, we can't possibly support evading the key check.
    * That the servervault key/account migration helpers already do much of the same.

    Going forward, we're looking at getting a fallback in place should the worst happen; i.e. the masterservers going AWOL. We don't have a decision or plan for this yet; but it is VERY early public beta, so there's a lot of "need/want/have to do" and very little "have done".

    If you know me from the nwnx days, then you'll be sure to realise that this is a important topic to me, and I'll want to make sure the past will not repeat itself.

    Hope that helps!

    JuliusBorisov
  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26
    edited December 2017
    niv said:


    Password authentication is not possible. The server never sees the player password - as we don't have passwords anymore! All that has been removed, including the UI for it.

    That's... unfortunate. I wish you well.

    Edit: There were two points where you had to enter a password: To authenticate against the MS and then another one when logging into a server, one for players and one for DM's. Are those going away or just the one to authenticate against the MS?

    It's the latter two that I'd like to see some hooks exposed. If those are going away how the heck are servers going to control access? (is actually an approved DM, has read the rules and agreed, has sworn they're 18+ etc.)

    IIRC the protocol passes those in cleartext or base64'd cleartext. If they're staying and that's the case then that needs to be fixed.

    Post edited by PlasmaJohn on
  • highv_priesthighv_priest Member Posts: 50
    A possible good idea of a fallback is an ini file, with the account+public key combination of all currently registered, kept in the servers data directory. In the future, if the master server goes down server hosts can add to it manually.

    Because they have to do it manually it's too much of a pain to be used for piracy, but it gives a good fallback.

  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26

    A possible good idea of a fallback is an ini file, with the account+public key combination of all currently registered, kept in the servers data directory. In the future, if the master server goes down server hosts can add to it manually.

    1.69 already supports that and it's an unmitigated disaster. Actually "supported' might be more accurate because it would only write out an entry only if the keys were verified by the late, unlamented Master Server.

    Regardless it made startup even more painful than necessary and IIRC it rolls over and dies after a few thousand entries. I think it lasted a day before we disabled it. Certainly no more than a week.

    But that's the great thing about a hook. You can implement whatever algorithm works best for your needs and talent. The default already covers "none" and "one password rules them all". A hook can be used to support per player or even Google Auth style codes.

  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26

    Edit: There were two points where you had to enter a password: To authenticate against the MS and then another one when logging into a server, one for players and one for DM's. Are those going away or just the one to authenticate against the MS?

    It's the latter two that I'd like to see some hooks exposed. If those are going away how the heck are servers going to control access? (is actually an approved DM, has read the rules and agreed, has sworn they're 18+ etc.)

    I suspect this edit got missed. This is a pretty important detail that's holding up some plans.

    If those will remain intact then can we get the hooks requested in the OP?

  • nivniv Member, Moderator, Developer Posts: 374
    Hey,

    yes. I missed that message after seeing the initial post.

    Of course player/DM passwords are still in! Would be incredibly silly to remove. Just the GameSpy authentication was purged, since that is defunct anyways.

    You can hook those via nwnx easily. I don't think there's a plugin for it yet, but then again, I don't really do much nwnx stuff now.

    The existing and known account->pubkey mapping already exists as part of the servervault migration code. If that file doesn't suit your purposes, then I'm sure nwnx can help there too.

  • PlasmaJohnPlasmaJohn Member Posts: 26
    edited December 2017
    niv said:

    Of course player/DM passwords are still in! Would be incredibly silly to remove. Just the GameSpy authentication was purged, since that is defunct anyways.

    Good to hear!

    Er, GameSpy or Master Server? Those were two completely different services. GS was the lobbying service and I don't think it had its own login. Sorry, people conflating MS and GS is pet peeve.
    niv said:

    You can hook those via nwnx easily. I don't think there's a plugin for it yet, but then again, I don't really do much nwnx stuff now.

    I forget the exact reason why I didn't pursue that. Might have been time pressure to get something working after the old MS died. OTOH I remember one of the authentication exchanges was trivially insecure. Unfortunately I don't have access to my wire protocol notes and I can't find the site that used to host a wiki documenting it.

    If somebody can verify that the player/dm passwords are appropriately hashed before being sent from the client to the server I can then let some folks know there's a better solution than the Rube Goldberg I shackled them with :p

    They may or may not have the resources to write that sort of hook themselves.

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