How IdentityServer3 Handles Client Credentials Flow

Identity Server 3 supports the Client Credentials OAuth2 grant.  I wrote a brief introduction to both OAuth2 and IdentityServer3 last month, this is a follow-on article exploring some other facets of authentication.

This is a little bit like basic authentication, in that the client (the application which wants to consume a WebAPI) passes a preshared key to ID3 in exchange for a bearer token.

The values passed from the Client to ID3 can be specified in either the HTTP/S header or body of the POST request.  I prefer specifying it in the Header.

The format is as follows:

Authorization: Basic (“Client ID” + “Client Secret”)


  • “Client ID” is the ID for the application (“Client”) in ID3
  • “Client Secret” is the unencrypted version of the client secret stored in ID3’s database
  • The Parenthesis indicates that the content should be Base64 encoded

The POST request also needs to contain the authorization flow type (client_credentials in this case) and intended scope (target) in the Body of the request.

The following PowerShell script demonstrates how to assemble a valid bearer token request:

function Hash($textToHash)
      $toHash = [System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($textToHash)
      return [System.Convert]::ToBase64String($toHash)

$authUri = "https://identityserver/"
$authPostUri = "https://identityserver/connect/token"
$scope =  "someTargetApiName"
$client_id = "clientApplicationName"
$client_secret = "6FB76F91-B62D-4193-A795-FDDF405F94A2"
$grant_type = "client_credentials"
$value = Hash($client_id + ":" + $client_secret)
$auth = "Basic " + $value
$body = "grant_type=" + $grant_type
$body += "&scope=" + $scope
$resp = try { 
Invoke-RestMethod -Method Post -Uri $authPostUri -Headers @{ "Authorization" = $auth } -Body $body
} catch { $_.Exception.Response }

Which produces a HTTP POST request which looks like this:


POST https://identityserver/connect/token HTTP/1.1
Authorization: Basic c3lzdGVtQ29kZXN000JpcHQ6NkZCNzZGOTEtQjYyRC00MTkzLUE3OTUtRk000jQwNUY5NEEy
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Host: identityserver
Content-Length: 55
Expect: 100-continue
Connection: Keep-Alive


Which, if successful, would return the following response from ID3:

@{access_token=dea839e9d3e09b4d4c00ba1fb479646a; expires_in=3600; token_type=Bearer}

Next up, I’ll show you how to generate the client secret and how to handle it on the client and within ID3’s database.

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