Tag Archives: Authentication

How to use the App Engine Users service (Module 20)

Posted by Wesley Chun (@wescpy), Developer Advocate, Google Cloud


Introduction and background

The Serverless Migration Station video series and corresponding codelabs aim to help App Engine developers modernize their apps, whether it's upgrading language runtimes like from Python 2 to 3 and Java 8 to 17, or to move laterally to sister serverless platforms like Cloud Functions or Cloud Run. For developers who want more control, like being able to SSH into instances, Compute Engine VMs or GKE, our managed Kubernetes service, are also viable options.

In order to consider moving App Engine apps to other compute services, developers must move their apps away from its original APIs (now referred to as legacy bundled services), either to Cloud standalone replacement or alternative 3rd-party services. Once no longer dependent on these proprietary services, apps become much more portable. Apps can stay on App Engine while upgrading to its 2nd-generation platform, or move to other compute platforms as listed above.

Today's Migration Module 20 content focuses on helping developers refamiliarize themselves with App Engine's Users service, a user authentication system serving as a lightweight wrapper around Google Sign-In (now called Google Identity Services). The video and its corresponding codelab (self-paced, hands-on tutorial) demonstrate how to add use of the Users service to the sample baseline app from Module 1. After adding the Users service in Module 20, Module 21 follows, showing developers how to migrate that usage to Cloud Identity Platform.

How to use the App Engine Users service

Adding use of Users service


The sample app's basic functionality consists of registering each page visit in Datastore and displaying the most recent visits. The Users service helps apps support user logins, App Engine administrative ("admin'") users. It also provides convenient functions for generating login/logout links and retrieving basic user information for logged-in users. Below is a screenshot of the modified app which now supports user logins via the user interface (UI):
Sample app now supports user logins and App Engine admin users (click to enlarge) 
Below is the pseudocode reflecting the changes made to support user logins for the sample app, including integrating the Users service and updating what shows up in the UI:
  • If the user is logged in, show their "nickname" (display name or email address) and display a Logout button. If the logged-in user is an App Engine app admin, also display an "admin" badge (between nickname and Logout button).
  • If the user is not logged in, display the username generically as "user", remove any admin badge, and display a Login button.
Because the Users service is primarily a user-facing endeavor, the most significant changes take place in the UI, whereas the data model and core functionality of registering visits remain unchanged. The new support for user management primarily results in additional context to be rendered in the web template. New or altered code is bolded to highlight the updates.
Table showing code 'Before'(Module 1) on left, and 'After' (Module 20) on the right
 Adding App Engine Users service usage to sample app (click to enlarge)

Wrap-up


Today's "migration" consists of adding usage of the App Engine Users service to support user management and recognize App Engine admin users, starting with the Module 1 baseline app and finishing with the Module 20 app. To get hands-on experience doing it yourself, try the codelab and follow along with the video. Then you'll be ready to upgrade to Identity Platform should you choose to do so.

In Fall 2021, the App Engine team extended support of many of the bundled services to 2nd generation runtimes (that have a 1st generation runtime), meaning you are no longer required to migrate from the Users service to Identity Platform when porting your app to Python 3. You can continue using the Users service in your Python 3 app so long as you retrofit the code to access bundled services from next-generation runtimes.

If you do want to move to Identity Platform, see the Module 21 content, including its codelab. All Serverless Migration Station content (codelabs, videos, and source code [when available]) are available at its open source repo. While we're initially focusing on Python users, the Cloud team is covering other runtimes soon, so stay tuned. Also check out other videos in the broader Serverless Expeditions series.

Google Ads API Video Roundup

The Google Ads Developers Channel is your video source for release notes, best practices, new feature integrations, code walkthroughs, and video tutorials. Check out some of the recently released and popular videos and playlists below, and remember to subscribe to our channel to stay up to date with the latest video content.

Google Ads API Best Practices - Error Handling and Debugging
In this episode of the Google Ads API Best Practices Series, we discuss how to handle errors that may occur when interacting with the Google Ads API, along with tools that may help you debug your applications, such as logging and the REST interface.
Meet the Team with David Wihl
In this video, David Wihl shares a bit about his role as a Developer Relations Engineer at Google and discusses his work in supporting the Performance Max campaign API integration.

[Live Demo] Building a Google Ads API Web App
Getting started with the Google Ads API? In this 8-episode series, we take a deep dive into developing web apps with the Google Ads API, with a focus on the OAuth flow, by building a multi-tenant app entirely from scratch.

Logging & Monitoring
This miniseries covers the basics of adding logging and monitoring to your Google Ads API integration and then goes into more advanced topics, with a special focus on Cloud tooling. Google Ads Query Language (GAQL)
In this series, we cover everything you need to know about the Google Ads Query Language to make reporting requests against the Google Ads API. We begin with the basics and build in subsequent episodes to cover various nuances of GAQL. We even dive into the various tools available to help you structure your queries. This playlist will equip you with the information you need to know to become a GAQL power user. For additional topics, including Authentication and Authorization and Working with REST, check out the Google Ads API Developer Series.

As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions via the Google Ads API forum or at [email protected].

Project Capillary: End-to-end encryption for push messaging, simplified

Posted by Giles Hogben, Privacy Engineer and Milinda Perera, Software Engineer

Developers already use HTTPS to communicate with Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM). The channel between FCM server endpoint and the device is encrypted with SSL over TCP. However, messages are not encrypted end-to-end (E2E) between the developer server and the user device unless developers take special measures.

To this end, we advise developers to use keys generated on the user device to encrypt push messages end-to-end. But implementing such E2E encryption has historically required significant technical knowledge and effort. That is why we are excited to announce the Capillary open source library which greatly simplifies the implementation of E2E-encryption for push messages between developer servers and users' Android devices.

We also added functionality for sending messages that can only be decrypted on devices that are unlocked. This includes support for decrypting messages on devices using File-Based Encryption (FBE): encrypted messages are cached in Device Encrypted (DE) storage and message decryption keys are stored in Android Keystore, requiring user authentication. This allows developers to specify messages with sensitive content, that remain encrypted in cached form until the user has unlocked and decrypted their device.

The library handles:

  • Crypto functionality and key management across all versions of Android back to KitKat (API level 19).
  • Key generation and registration workflows.
  • Message encryption (on the server) and decryption (on the client).
  • Integrity protection to prevent message modification.
  • Caching of messages received in unauthenticated contexts to be decrypted and displayed upon device unlock.
  • Edge-cases, such as users adding/resetting device lock after installing the app, users resetting app storage, etc.

The library supports both RSA encryption with ECDSA authentication and Web Push encryption, allowing developers to re-use existing server-side code developed for sending E2E-encrypted Web Push messages to browser-based clients.

Along with the library, we are also publishing a demo app (at last, the Google privacy team has its own messaging app!) that uses the library to send E2E-encrypted FCM payloads from a gRPC-based server implementation.

What it's not

  • The open source library and demo app are not designed to support peer-to-peer messaging and key exchange. They are designed for developers to send E2E-encrypted push messages from a server to one or more devices. You can protect messages between the developer's server and the destination device, but not directly between devices.
  • It is not a comprehensive server-side solution. While core crypto functionality is provided, developers will need to adapt parts of the sample server-side code that are specific to their architecture (for example, message composition, database storage for public keys, etc.)

You can find more technical details describing how we've architected and implemented the library and demo here.

Tips for integrating with Google Accounts on Android

By Laurence Moroney, Developer Advocate

Happy Tuesday! We've had a few questions come in recently regarding Google Accounts on Android, so we've put this post together to show you some of our best practices. The tips today will focus on Android-based authentication, which is easily achieved through the integration of Google Play services. Let's get started.

Unique Identifiers

A common confusion happens when developers use the account name (a.k.a. email address) as the primary key to a Google Account. For instance, when using GoogleApiClient to sign in a user, a developer might use the following code inside of the onConnected callback for a registered GoogleApiClient.ConnectedCallbacks listener:

[Error prone pseudocode]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
// createLocalAccount() is specific to the app's local storage strategy.
createLocalAccount(accountName);

While it is OK to store the email address for display or caching purposes, it is possible for users to change the primary email address on a Google Account. This can happen with various types of accounts, but these changes happen most often with Google Apps For Work accounts.

So what's a developer to do? Use the Google Account ID (as opposed to the Account name) to key any data for your app that is associated to a Google Account. For most apps, this simply means storing the Account ID and comparing the value each time the onConnected callback is invoked to ensure the data locally matches the currently logged in user. The API provides methods that allow you to get the Account ID from the Account Name. Here is an example snippet you might use:

[Google Play Services 6.1+]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = GoogleAuthUtil.getAccountId(accountName);
createLocalAccount(accountID);
[Earlier Versions of Google Play Services (please upgrade your client)]
Person currentUser = Plus.PeopleApi.getCurrentPerson(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = currentUser.getID();
createLocalAccount(accountID);

This will key the local data against a Google Account ID, which is unique and stable for the user even after changing an email address.

So, in the above scenario, if your data was keyed on an ID, you wouldn’t have to worry if your users change their email address. When they sign back in, they’ll still get the same ID, and you won’t need to do anything with your data.

Multiple Accounts

If your app supports multiple account connections simultaneously (like the Gmail user interface shown below), you are calling setAccountName on the GoogleApiClient.Builder when constructing GoogleApiClients. This requires you to store the account name as well as the Google Account ID within your app. However, the account name you’ve stored will be different if the user changes their primary email address. The easiest way to deal with this is to prompt the user to re-login. Then, update the account name when onConnected is called after login. Any time a login occurs you, can use code such as this to compare Account IDs and update the email address stored locally for the Account ID.

[Google Play Services 6.1+]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = GoogleAuthUtil.getAccountId(accountName);
// isExistingLocalAccount(), createLocalAccount(), 
// getLocalDataAccountName(), and updateLocalAccountName() 
// are all specific to the app's local storage strategy.
boolean existingLocalAccountData = isExistingLocalAccount(accountID);
if (!existingLocalAccountData) {
    // New Login.
    createLocalAccount(accountID, accountName);
} else {
    // Existing local data for this Google Account.
    String cachedAccountName = getLocalDataAccountName(accountID);    
    if (!cachedAccountName.equals(accountName)) {
        updateLocalAccountName(accountID, accountName);
    }
}

This scenario reinforces the importance of using the Account ID to store data all data in your app.

Online data

The same best practices above apply to storing data for Google Accounts in web servers for your app. If you are storing data on your servers in this manner and treating the email address as the primary key:

ID [Primary Key] Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
user[email protected] Value 1 Value 2 Value 3

You need to migrate to this model where the primary key is the Google Account ID.:

ID [Primary Key] Email Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
108759069548186989918 [email protected] Value 1 Value 2 Value 3

If you don't make Google API calls from your web server, you might be able to depend on the Android application to notify your web server of changes to the primary email address when implementing the updateLocalAccountName method referenced in the multiple accounts sample code above. If you make Google API calls from your web server, you likely implemented it using the Cross-client authentication and can detect changes via the OAuth2 client libraries or REST endpoints on your server as well.

Conclusion

When using Google Account authentication for your app, it’s definitely a best practice to use the account ID, as opposed to the account name to distinguish data for the user. In this post, we saw three scenarios where you may need to make changes to make your apps more robust. With the growing adoption of Google for Work, users who are changing their email address, but keeping the same account ID, may occur more frequently, so we encourage all developers to make plans to update their code as soon as possible.