How To Integrate Amazon Cognito with Ethereum Blockchain: A Step-by-Step Guide | Hacker Noon

When you build a blockchain DApp, you can use AWS services with custom logic, such as monitoring and troubleshooting your contract event logs using AWS CloudWatch. With Amazon Cognito, you can deliver temporary, limited-privilege credentials to your application to access AWS resources.

In this article, We will introduce a cryptographically secure authentication flow using the Amazon Cognito enhanced flow with the MetaMask extension and Web3.

Solution overview

By the end of this article, we will have a website that allows users to log in using MetaMask and having access to our Amazon API Gateway APIs with IAM authorization.

here is a demo we are going to build:

The auth flow includes the following steps:

  1. User sign-in with MetaMask.
  2. Get nonce from DynamoDB. Generate one if nonce doesn’t exist.
  3. Sign messages off-chain with the private key of the current account.
  4. Verify signature with Web3.
  5. Get developer authenticated identities.
  6. Get credentials for the returned developer authenticated identity ID.
  7. Signing AWS requests with signature version 4.
  8. Control access to AWS API Gateway APIs with IAM authorization.

The following diagram illustrates the auth flow.

Prerequisites

Let’s begin!

React frontend DApp

I created a react frontend DApp for this article. The project can be seen in my GitHub repository.

When users click the login button on the login page, they need to connect to their MetaMask Wallet and get the current MetaMask account’s public address. The MetaMask connection function would look like the following:

Once we have the public address, we will use it to get the nonce by the public address. If no nonce is found in DynamoDB, we will call signup API to create a cryptographically strong pseudo-random data as the nonce and save it to the DynamoDB table.

Next, we use 

web3.eth.personal.sign

 to sign string message with nonce:

Running the above code snippet will prompt a Signature Request popup for signing the message in MetaMask.

When the user clicks the sign button in the popup window, the callback function of 

web3.eth.personal.sign

then returns a signature.

After this, the frontend makes an authentication API call, passing signature, and public address. if the tokens and signature are verified in the backend process, the frontend will be given the AWS STS credentials (

accessKeyId

,

secretAccessKey

,

sessionToken

).

After the authentication process is completed, we can use AWS STS credentials to sign our requests using Signature Version 4, then connect to the API Gateway endpoints secured using AWS IAM permissions.

The sample code of the 

login

 page would look like the following:

Now we have created our frontend DApp, let’s move on to the backend.

Handling authentication and authorization in serverless application

As a heads up, I will assume you already have Serverless Framework installed and are familiar with it. If you are not, take a look at the Get started with Serverless Framework Open Source & AWS guide.

Creating nonce and Geting nonce

Step2: Get nonce from DynamoDB; generate one if nonce doesn’t exist.

First of all, we need to store nonce and user’s public address in DynamoDB; we will create a 

user

 table where each item is uniquely identified by 

address

.

Let’s navigate into the 

serverless.yml

file inside your serverless application folder. First, add the following lines to the 

Resources

 section:

Now we have the user table defined, let’s build an API Gateway REST API with Lambda functions to get/set nonce by user’s public address.

Add the following config to the functions section,

The code snippets from the 

functions

 section defines 2 API endpoints 

getNonce

 & signup (create nonce), the frontend can send requests to Lambda functions via the 2 API Gateway HTTPS endpoints.

Let’s create related Lambda functions: 

getNonce

 and 

signup

 .

getNonce

 lambda would look like the following:

and 

signup

 Lambda function would look like the following:

Next, We will create an IAM policy that allows 

Get/Put/update

 access to the 

user

 DynamoDB table. Add the following lines to the 

provider

 section of 

serverless.yml

:

Building authentication flow

First, we need to create a Cognito Identity Pool associated with the developer provider 

my.ether.login 

.

With developer authenticated identities, you can register and authenticate users via your own existing authentication process, while still using Amazon Cognito to synchronize user data and access AWS resources.

Now, let’s create resources: (

CognitoIdentityPool

CognitoAuthorizedRole

unAuthorizedRole

CognitoIdentityPoolRolesMapping

), copy the following lines to 

Resources

 the section looks like this:

Next, it’s time to build our serverless authentication flow. The flow covers the following steps:

  1. Verify signature with Web3.
  2. Get developer authenticated identities.
  3. Get credentials for the returned developer authenticated identity ID.

Signature verification

When the user logins to the site by sending a POST request, the first step is to verify that the user has correctly signed the nonce. we can use 

web3.personal.ecRecover

 function to verify a signed message, 

ecRecover

 outputs the 

signing_address

 used to sign the same message. If the 

signing_address

 matches our address from the request body, then the user who made the request successfully proved their ownership of the public address.

Developer authenticated identities

Once the signature is verified, we will implement our own identity provider in the Lambda function, and the identity provider function should return a response object containing 

identityId

 and 

token

 as attributes.

Getting credentials for the authenticated identity ID

After we establish identity ID and token, we can then call 

getCredentialsForIdentity

 to return STS credentials for the provided identity ID.

To prevent the user from logging in with the same signature every time, we will change nonce (

updateNonce

) at the bottom of 

login

 Lambda function. The full sample code of auth flow would look like below:

login

 API endpoint in 

functions

 section of 

serverless.yml

 :

login

 Lambda function:

CONGRATULATIONS! We have just completed building our blockchain authentication flow.

Now, We can create HTTP Endpoints 

/hello

 with

AWS_IAM

Authorizers. After login successfully, the user can submit the IAM user’s access keys to be authenticated to invoke our Lambda Function.

Copy following lines to 

functions

 section of 

serverless.yml

:

and

hello

Lambda function would look like below:

Then use 

aws4fetch

 in React frontend to sign the hello request with signature version 4 and 

fetch()

 .

Deploy the serverless application and 

npm start

 react app, log in with MetaMask. We should see the “Welcome your IAM role is authorized” message on the dashboard page.

Conclusion

This article introduced the approach to authenticating users with MetaMask and Cognito Identity Pool developer provider. I showed you how to invoke AWS API gateway endpoints with AWS_IAM authorizer. I hope you have found this article useful. You can find the complete project in my GitHub repository.

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