Validating Time-Based One-Time Passwords

There are various techniques to enforce multi-factor authentication in web applications. One approach is to use Time-Based One-Time Passwords (TOTPs) as an additional authentication factor. I did a write-up on how to implement Google Authenticator to enforce this style of multi-factor authentication in PeopleSoft. In that article, I use a custom Java class on the app server to implement the TOTP validation algorithm. The problem with this approach is that it causes an undesirable app server dependency. I recently came across an article that demonstrates a JavaScript implementation of the TOTP algorithm. Since we have the ability to run JavaScript on the app server using Java’s built-in JavaScript interpreter, then we can make use of this JavaScript implementation of the TOTP algorithm to validate user submitted TOTPs. I would like to share a handy project that demonstrates this dependency-less TOTP validation technique.

This project demonstrates TOTP validation in the context of a two-factor authentication (2FA) enrollment process. This 2FA enrollment utility can be used in a self service manner to allow users to setup and enable 2FA enforcement on their accounts. If you are interesting in using this project, then perform the following installation steps.

  • Download and Import Project into App Designer
  • Build Project (Create Table)
  • Assign PSM_2FA Permission List to User Role

Login as a privileged user and navigate to Main Menu > PSM Projects > 2FA Enrollment. You will be presented with the following page:

2FA Enrollment

On this page, the user can configure a mobile authenticator application by scanning a QR code. Once configured, the mobile device will generate TOTPs for the user. The user can input a generated TOTP into the input box to verify that their application is generating proper TOTPs. When the user submits the TOTP, the server validates the submitted TOTP with a JavaScript-based algorithm.

Since JavaScript is doing all of the leg work there is not really much to see PeopleCode-wise, but below is the PeopleCode that handles the TOTP validation. The real magic happens in the PSM_SHA and PSM_TOTP HTML Objects.

Function IScript_ValidateTotp()
   /* Respond with error if the totp parameter is blank */
   Local string &sTotpInput = %Request.GetParameter("totp");
   If None(&sTotpInput) Then
      %Response.Write("{""status"": ""error"", ""message"": ""No Token Provided""}");
   /* Get the user's secret ket from the DB */
   Local string &sEncryptedKey, &sKey;
   /* Respond with error if the user does not have a secret key in the DB */
   If None(&sEncryptedKey) Then
      %Response.Write("{""status"": ""error"", ""message"": ""No Key Exists""}");
   /* Decrypt the user's secret key */
   &sKey = Decrypt("", &sEncryptedKey);
   /* Use the Java ScriptEngineManager to run the JavaScript program to validate the totp value */
   Local JavaObject &manager = CreateJavaObject("javax.script.ScriptEngineManager");
   Local JavaObject &engine = &manager.getEngineByName("JavaScript");
   Local string &program = GetHTMLText(HTML.PSM_SHA) | GetHTMLText(HTML.PSM_TOTP);
   /* Provide the JS program with the required parameters */
   &engine.put("userKey", &sKey);
   &engine.put("userOtp", &sTotpInput);
   &engine.put("w", 5); /* Window: 30s * 5 = 2.5min */
   /* Respond with error if the totp value is invalid */
   Local string &result = &engine.get("result").toString();
   If &result <> "true" Then
      %Response.Write("{""status"": ""error"", ""message"": ""Invalid Token Provided""}");
   /* Generate the url to redirect the user to */
   Local string &sUrl = GenerateScriptContentURL(%Portal, %Node, Record.WEBLIB_PTBR, Field.ISCRIPT1, "FieldFormula", "IScript_StartPage");
   /* Respond with success message */
   %Response.Write("{""status"": ""success"", ""message"": ""Token is Valid"", ""redirectUrl"": """ | &sUrl | """}");

By using Java’s built-in JavaScript interpreter, we are able to run JavaScript on the app server to validate TOTPs rather than relying on a custom Java class to do this. This technique reduces server side dependencies and results in a more easily manged solution. I look forward to discovering and sharing the integration of more JavaScript-based tools into PeopleSoft using this technique.