Secure your RESTful service by using client certificates


In Azure Active Directory B2C, custom policies are designed primarily to address complex scenarios. For most scenarios, we recommend that you use built-in user flows.

In a related article, you create a RESTful service that interacts with Azure Active Directory B2C (Azure AD B2C).

In this article, you learn how to restrict access to your Azure web app (RESTful API) by using a client certificate. This mechanism is called TLS mutual authentication, or client certificate authentication. Only services that have proper certificates, such as Azure AD B2C, can access your service.


You can also secure your RESTful service by using HTTP basic authentication. However, HTTP basic authentication is considered less secure over a client certificate. Our recommendation is to secure the RESTful service by using client certificate authentication as described in this article.

This article details how to:

  • Set up your web app to use client certificate authentication.
  • Upload the certificate to Azure AD B2C policy keys.
  • Configure your custom policy to use the client certificate.


Step 1: Configure a web app for client certificate authentication

To set up Azure App Service to require client certificates, set the web app clientCertEnabled site setting to true. To make this change, in the Azure portal, open your web app page. In the left navigation, under Settings select SSL Settings. In the Client Certificates section, turn on the Incoming client certificate option.


Make sure that your Azure App Service plan is Standard or greater. For more information, see Azure App Service plans in-depth overview.


For more information about setting the clientCertEnabled property, see Configure TLS mutual authentication for web apps.

Step 2: Upload your certificate to Azure AD B2C policy keys

After you set clientCertEnabled to true, the communication with your RESTful API requires a client certificate. To obtain, upload, and store the client certificate in your Azure AD B2C tenant, do the following:

  1. In your Azure AD B2C tenant, select B2C Settings > Identity Experience Framework.

  2. To view the keys that are available in your tenant, select Policy Keys.

  3. Select Add. The Create a key window opens.

  4. In the Options box, select Upload.

  5. In the Name box, type B2cRestClientCertificate. The prefix B2C_1A_ is added automatically.

  6. In the File upload box, select your certificate's .pfx file with a private key.

  7. In the Password box, type the certificate's password.

    Upload policy key in the Create a key page in Azure portal

  8. Select Create.

  9. To view the keys that are available in your tenant and confirm that you've created the B2C_1A_B2cRestClientCertificate key, select Policy Keys.

Step 3: Change the technical profile

To support client certificate authentication in your custom policy, change the technical profile by doing the following:

  1. In your working directory, open the TrustFrameworkExtensions.xml extension policy file.

  2. Search for the <TechnicalProfile> node that includes Id="REST-API-SignUp".

  3. Locate the <Metadata> element.

  4. Change the AuthenticationType to ClientCertificate, as follows:

    <Item Key="AuthenticationType">ClientCertificate</Item>
  5. Immediately after the closing <Metadata> element, add the following XML snippet:

        <Key Id="ClientCertificate" StorageReferenceId="B2C_1A_B2cRestClientCertificate" />

    After you add the snippet, your technical profile should look like the following XML code:

    Set ClientCertificate authentication XML elements

Step 4: Upload the policy to your tenant

  1. In the Azure portal, switch to the context of your Azure AD B2C tenant, and then select Azure AD B2C.

  2. Select Identity Experience Framework.

  3. Select All Policies.

  4. Select Upload Policy.

  5. Select the Overwrite the policy if it exists check box.

  6. Upload the TrustFrameworkExtensions.xml file, and then ensure that it passes validation.

Step 5: Test the custom policy by using Run Now

  1. Open Azure AD B2C Settings, and then select Identity Experience Framework.


    Run Now requires at least one application to be preregistered on the tenant. To learn how to register applications, see the Azure AD B2C Get started article or the Application registration article.

  2. Open B2C_1A_signup_signin, the relying party (RP) custom policy that you uploaded, and then select Run now.

  3. Test the process by typing Test in the Given Name box. Azure AD B2C displays an error message at the top of the window.

    Given Name text box highlighted and input validation error shown

  4. In the Given Name box, type a name (other than "Test"). Azure AD B2C signs up the user and then sends a loyalty number to your application. Note the number in this JWT example:

      "typ": "JWT",
      "alg": "RS256",
      "kid": "X5eXk4xyojNFum1kl2Ytv8dlNP4-c57dO6QGTVBwaNk"
      "exp": 1507125903,
      "nbf": 1507122303,
      "ver": "1.0",
      "iss": "",
      "aud": "e1d2612f-c2bc-4599-8e7b-d874eaca1ee1",
      "acr": "b2c_1a_signup_signin",
      "nonce": "defaultNonce",
      "iat": 1507122303,
      "auth_time": 1507122303,
      "loyaltyNumber": "290",
      "given_name": "Emily",
      "emails": [""]


    If you receive the error message, The name is not valid, please provide a valid name, it means that Azure AD B2C successfully called your RESTful service while it presented the client certificate. The next step is to validate the certificate.

Step 6: Add certificate validation

The client certificate that Azure AD B2C sends to your RESTful service does not undergo validation by the Azure App Service platform, except to check whether the certificate exists. Validating the certificate is the responsibility of the web app.

In this section, you add sample ASP.NET code that validates the certificate properties for authentication purposes.


For more information about configuring Azure App Service for client certificate authentication, see Configure TLS mutual authentication for web apps.

6.1 Add application settings to your project's web.config file

In the Visual Studio project that you created earlier, add the following application settings to the web.config file after the appSettings element:

<add key="ClientCertificate:Subject" value="CN=Subject name" />
<add key="ClientCertificate:Issuer" value="CN=Issuer name" />
<add key="ClientCertificate:Thumbprint" value="Certificate thumbprint" />

Replace the certificate's Subject name, Issuer name, and Certificate thumbprint values with your certificate values.

6.2 Add the IsValidClientCertificate function

Open the Controllers\IdentityController.cs file, and then add to the Identity controller class the following function:

private bool IsValidClientCertificate()
    string ClientCertificateSubject = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ClientCertificate:Subject"];
    string ClientCertificateIssuer = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ClientCertificate:Issuer"];
    string ClientCertificateThumbprint = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["ClientCertificate:Thumbprint"];

    X509Certificate2 clientCertInRequest = RequestContext.ClientCertificate;
    if (clientCertInRequest == null)
        Trace.WriteLine("Certificate is NULL");
        return false;

    // Basic verification
    if (clientCertInRequest.Verify() == false)
        Trace.TraceError("Basic verification failed");
        return false;

    // 1. Check the time validity of the certificate
    if (DateTime.Compare(DateTime.Now, clientCertInRequest.NotBefore) < 0 ||
        DateTime.Compare(DateTime.Now, clientCertInRequest.NotAfter) > 0)
        Trace.TraceError($"NotBefore '{clientCertInRequest.NotBefore}' or NotAfter '{clientCertInRequest.NotAfter}' not valid");
        return false;

    // 2. Check the subject name of the certificate
    bool foundSubject = false;
    string[] certSubjectData = clientCertInRequest.Subject.Split(new char[] { ',' }, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);
    foreach (string s in certSubjectData)
        if (String.Compare(s.Trim(), ClientCertificateSubject) == 0)
            foundSubject = true;

    if (!foundSubject)
        Trace.TraceError($"Subject name '{clientCertInRequest.Subject}' is not valid");
        return false;

    // 3. Check the issuer name of the certificate
    bool foundIssuerCN = false;
    string[] certIssuerData = clientCertInRequest.Issuer.Split(new char[] { ',' }, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);
    foreach (string s in certIssuerData)
        if (String.Compare(s.Trim(), ClientCertificateIssuer) == 0)
            foundIssuerCN = true;

    if (!foundIssuerCN)
        Trace.TraceError($"Issuer '{clientCertInRequest.Issuer}' is not valid");
        return false;

    // 4. Check the thumbprint of the certificate
    if (String.Compare(clientCertInRequest.Thumbprint.Trim().ToUpper(), ClientCertificateThumbprint) != 0)
        Trace.TraceError($"Thumbprint '{clientCertInRequest.Thumbprint.Trim().ToUpper()}' is not valid");
        return false;

    // 5. If you also want to test whether the certificate chains to a trusted root authority, you can uncomment the following code:
    //X509Chain certChain = new X509Chain();
    //bool isValidCertChain = true;
    //foreach (X509ChainElement chElement in certChain.ChainElements)
    //    if (!chElement.Certificate.Verify())
    //    {
    //        isValidCertChain = false;
    //        break;
    //    }
    //if (!isValidCertChain) return false;
    return true;

In the preceding sample code, we accept the certificate as valid only if all the following conditions are met:

  • The certificate is not expired and is active for the current time on server.
  • The Subject name of the certificate is equal to the ClientCertificate:Subject application setting value.
  • The Issuer name of the certificate is equal to the ClientCertificate:Issuer application setting value.
  • The thumbprint of the certificate is equal to the ClientCertificate:Thumbprint application setting value.


Depending on the sensitivity of your service, you might need to add more validations. For example, you might need to test whether the certificate chains to a trusted root authority, issuer organization name validation, and so on.

6.3 Call the IsValidClientCertificate function

Open the Controllers\IdentityController.cs file and then, at the beginning of the SignUp() function, add the following code snippet:

if (IsValidClientCertificate() == false)
    return Content(HttpStatusCode.Conflict, new B2CResponseContent("Your client certificate is not valid", HttpStatusCode.Conflict));

After you add the snippet, your Identity controller should look like the following code:

Add certificate validation code

Step 7: Publish your project to Azure and test it

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the Contoso.AADB2C.API project, and then select Publish.

  2. Repeat "Step 6," and re-test your custom policy with the certificate validation. Try to run the policy, and make sure that everything works after you add the validation.

  3. In your web.config file, change the value of ClientCertificate:Subject to invalid. Run the policy again and you should see an error message.

  4. Change the value back to valid, and make sure that the policy can call your REST API.

If you need to troubleshoot this step, see Collecting logs by using Application Insights.

(Optional) Download the complete policy files and code