As specified in RFC 2617, HTTP supports authentication using the WWW-Authenticate request headers and the Authorization response headers (and the Proxy-Authenticate and Proxy-Authorization headers for proxy authentication).
Supported authentication schemes
Chrome supports four authentication schemes: Basic, Digest, NTLM, and Negotiate. Basic, Digest, and NTLM are supported on all platforms by default. Negotiate is supported on all platforms except Chrome OS by default.
The Basic and Digest schemes are specified in RFC 2617. NTLM is a Microsoft proprietary protocol. The Negotiate (or SPNEGO) scheme is specified in RFC 4559 and can be used to negotiate multiple authentication schemes, but typically defaults to either Kerberos or NTLM.
Choosing an authentication scheme
When a server or proxy accepts multiple authentication schemes, our network stack selects via HttpAuth::ChooseBestChallenge() the authentication scheme with the highest score:
* Basic: 1 * Digest: 2 * NTLM: 3 * Negotiate: 4
The Basic scheme has the lowest score because it sends the username/password unencrypted to the server or proxy.
So we choose the most secure scheme, and we ignore the server or proxy's preference, indicated by the order in which the schemes are listed in the WWW-Authenticate or Proxy-Authenticate response headers. This could be a source of compatibility problems because MSDN documents that "WinInet chooses the first method it recognizes." Note: In IE7 or later, WinInet chooses the first non-Basic method it recognizes.
With Integrated Authentication, Chrome can authenticate the user to an Intranet server or proxy without prompting the user for a username or password. It does this by using cached credentials which are established when the user initially logs in to the machine that the Chrome browser is running on. Integrated Authentication is supported for Negotiate and NTLM challenges only.
Due to potential attacks, Integrated Authentication is only enabled when Chrome receives an authentication challenge from a proxy, or when it receives a challenge from a server which is in the permitted list.
This list is passed in to Chrome using a comma-separated list of URLs to Chrome via the AuthServerWhitelist policy setting. For example, if the AuthServerWhitelist policy setting was:
...then Chrome would consider that any URL ending in either 'example.com', 'foobar.com', or 'baz' is in the permitted list. Without the '*' prefix, the URL has to match exactly.
In ==Windows only==, if the AuthServerWhitelist setting is not specified, the permitted list consists of those servers allowed by the Windows Zones Security Manager (queried for URLACTION_CREDENTIALS_USE). By default, this includes servers in the Local Machine or Local Intranet security zones. For example, when the host in the URL includes a "." character, by default it is outside the Local Intranet security zone). This behavior matches Internet Explorer and other Windows components.
If a challenge comes from a server outside of the permitted list, the user will need to enter the username and password.
Starting in Chrome 81, Integrated Authentication is disabled by default for off-the-record (Incognito/Guest) profiles, and the user will need to enter the username and password.
Kerberos SPN generation
When a server or proxy presents Chrome with a Negotiate challenge, Chrome tries to generate a Kerberos SPN (Service Principal Name) based on the host and port of the original URI. Unfortunately, the server does not indicate what the SPN should be as part of the authentication challenge, so Chrome (and other browsers) have to guess what it should be based on standard conventions.
The default SPN is: HTTP/<host name>, where <host name> is the canonical DNS name of the server. This mirrors the SPN generation logic of IE and Firefox.
The SPN generation can be customized via policy settings:
- DisableAuthNegotiateCnameLookup determines whether the original hostname in the URL is used rather than the canonical name. If left unset or set to false, Chrome uses the canonical name.
- EnableAuthNegotiatePort determines whether the port is appended to the SPN if it is a non-standard (not 80 or 443) port. If set to true, the port is appended. Otherwise (or if left unset) the port is not used.
For example, assume that an intranet has a DNS configuration like
auth-a.example.com IN CNAME auth-server.example.com
auth-server.example.com IN A 10.0.5.3
URL Default SPN With DisableAuthNegotiateCnameLookup With EnableAuthNegotiatePort http://auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com https://auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com http://auth-a:80 HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com https://auth-a:443 HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com http://auth-a:4678 HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a HTTP/auth-server.example.com:4678 http://auth-a.example.com HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-a.example.com HTTP/auth-server.example.com http://auth-server HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-server HTTP/auth-server.example.com http://auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-server.example.com HTTP/auth-server.example.com
Kerberos Credentials Delegation (Forwardable Tickets)
Some services require delegation of the users identity (for example, an IIS server accessing a MSSQL database). By default, Chrome does not allow this. You can use the AuthNegotiateDelegateWhitelist policy to enable it for the servers.
Delegation does not work for proxy authentication.
On Windows, Negotiate is implemented using the SSPI libraries and depends on code in secur32.dll.
On Android, Negotiate is implemented using an external Authentication app provided by third parties. Details are given in Writing a SPNEGO Authenticator for Chrome on Android. The AuthAndroidNegotiateAccountType policy is used to tell Chrome the Android account type provided by the app, hence letting it find the app.
On other platforms, Negotiate is implemented using the system GSSAPI libraries. The first time a Negotiate challenge is seen, Chrome tries to dlopen one of several possible shared libraries. If it is unable to find an appropriate library, Chrome remembers for the session and all Negotiate challenges are ignored for lower priority challenges.
The GSSAPILibraryName policy can be used to specify the path to a GSSAPI library that Chrome should use.
Otherwise, Chrome tries to dlopen/dlsym each of the following fixed names in the order specified:
* OSX: libgssapi_krb5.dylib * Linux: libgssapi_krb5.so.2, libgssapi.so.4, libgssapi.so.2, libgssapi.so.1
Chrome OS follows the Linux behavior, but does not have a system gssapi library, so all Negotiate challenges are ignored.
- Support GSSAPI on Windows [for MIT Kerberos for Windows or Heimdal]
- Offer a policy to disable Basic authentication scheme over unencrypted channels.
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