Simple Single Sign-On

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v0.5.1 2023-08-15 02:00 UTC



Single Sign-On for PHP

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Jasny SSO is a relatively simple and straightforward solution for single sign on (SSO).

With SSO, logging into a single website will authenticate you for all affiliate sites. The sites don't need to share a toplevel domain.

How it works

When using SSO, we can distinguish 3 parties:

  • Client - This is the browser of the visitor
  • Broker - The website which is visited
  • Server - The place that holds the user info and credentials

The broker has an id and a secret. These are known to both the broker and server.

When the client visits the broker, it creates a random token, which is stored in a cookie. The broker will then send the client to the server, passing along the broker's id and token. The server creates a hash using the broker id, broker secret and the token. This hash is used to create a link to the user's session. When the link is created the server redirects the client back to the broker.

The broker can create the same link hash using the token (from the cookie), the broker id and the broker secret. When doing requests, it passes that hash as a session id.

The server will notice that the session id is a link and use the linked session. As such, the broker and client are using the same session. When another broker joins in, it will also use the same session.

For a more in depth explanation, please read this article.

How is this different from OAuth?

With OAuth, you can authenticate a user at an external server and get access to their profile info. However, you aren't sharing a session.

A user logs in to website foo.com using Google OAuth. Next they visit website bar.org which also uses Google OAuth. Regardless of that, they are still required to press the 'login' button on bar.org.

With Jasny SSO both websites use the same session. So when the user visits bar.org, they are automatically logged in. When they log out (on either of the sites), they are logged out for both.


Install this library through composer

composer require jasny/sso


There is a demo server and two demo brokers as example. One with normal redirects and one using JSONP / AJAX.

To prove it's working you should setup the server and two or more brokers, each on their own machine and their own (sub)domain. However, you can also run both server and brokers on your own machine, simply to test it out.

On *nix (Linux / Unix / OSX) run:

php -S localhost:8000 -t demo/server/
export SSO_SERVER=http://localhost:8000/attach.php SSO_BROKER_ID=Alice SSO_BROKER_SECRET=8iwzik1bwd; php -S localhost:8001 -t demo/broker/
export SSO_SERVER=http://localhost:8000/attach.php SSO_BROKER_ID=Greg SSO_BROKER_SECRET=7pypoox2pc; php -S localhost:8002 -t demo/broker/
export SSO_SERVER=http://localhost:8000/attach.php SSO_BROKER_ID=Julius SSO_BROKER_SECRET=ceda63kmhp; php -S localhost:8003 -t demo/ajax-broker/

Now open some tabs and visit

username password
jackie jackie123
john john123

Note that after logging in, you need to refresh on the other brokers to see the effect.



The Server class takes a callback as first constructor argument. This callback should look up the secret for a broker based on the id.

The second argument must be a PSR-16 compatible cache object. It's used to store the link between broker token and client session.

use Jasny\SSO\Server\Server;

$brokers = [
    'foo' => ['secret' => '8OyRi6Ix1x', 'domains' => ['example.com']],
    // ...

$server = new Server(
    fn($id) => $brokers[$id] ?? null, // Unique secret and allowed domains for each broker.
    new Cache()                       // Any PSR-16 compatible cache

In this example the brokers are simply configured as an array, but typically you want to fetch the broker info from a DB.


A client needs to attach the broker token to the session id by doing an HTTP request to the server. This request can be handled by calling attach().

The attach() method returns a verification code. This code must be returned to the broker, as it's needed to calculate the checksum.

$verificationCode = $server->attach();

If it's not possible to attach (for instance in case of an incorrect checksum), an Exception is thrown.

Handle broker API request

After the client session is attached to the broker token, the broker is able to send API requests on behalf of the client. Calling the startBrokerSession() method with start the session of the client based on the bearer token. This means that these request the server can access the session information of the client through $_SESSION.


The broker could use this to login, logout, get user information, etc. The API for handling such requests is outside the scope of the project. However since the broker uses normal sessions, any existing the authentication can be used.

If you're lookup for an authentication library, consider using Jasny Auth.


By default, the library works with superglobals like $_GET and $_SERVER. Alternatively it can use a PSR-7 server request. This can be passed to attach() and startBrokerSession() as argument.

$verificationCode = $server->attach($serverRequest);

Session interface

By default, the library uses the superglobal $_SESSION and the php_session_*() functions. It does this through the GlobalSession object, which implements SessionInterface.

For projects that use alternative sessions, it's possible to create a wrapper that implements SessionInterface.

use Jasny\SSO\Server\SessionInterface;

class CustomerSessionHandler implements SessionInterface
    // ...

The withSession() methods creates a copy of the Server object with the custom session interface.

$server = (new Server($callback, $cache))
    ->withSession(new CustomerSessionHandler());

The withSession() method can also be used with a mock object for testing.


Enable logging for debugging and catching issues.

$server = (new Server($callback, $cache))
    ->withLogging(new Logger());

Any PSR-3 compatible logger can be used, like Monolog or Loggy. The context may contain the broker id, token, and session id.


When creating a Broker instance, you need to pass the server url, broker id and broker secret. The broker id and secret needs to match the secret registered at the server.

CAVEAT: The broker id MUST be alphanumeric.


Before the broker can do API requests on the client's behalf, the client needs to attach the broker token to the client session. For this, the client must do an HTTP request to the SSO Server.

The getAttachUrl() method will generate a broker token for the client and use it to create an attach URL. The method takes an array of query parameters as single argument.

There are several methods in making the client do an HTTP request. The broker can redirect the client or do a request via the browser using AJAX or loading an image.

use Jasny\SSO\Broker\Broker;

// Configure the broker.
$broker = new Broker(

// Attach through redirect if the client isn't attached yet.
if (!$broker->isAttached()) {
    $returnUrl = (!empty($_SERVER['HTTPS']) ? 'https://' : 'http://') . $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] . $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
    $attachUrl = $broker->getAttachUrl(['return_url' => $returnUrl]);

    header("Location: $attachUrl", true, 303);
    echo "You're redirected to <a href='$attachUrl'>$attachUrl</a>";


Upon verification the SSO Server will return a verification code (as a query parameter or in the JSON response). The code is used to calculate the checksum. The verification code prevents session hijacking using an attach link.

if (isset($_GET['sso_verify'])) {

API requests

Once attached, the broker is able to do API requests on behalf of the client. This can be done by

  • using the broker request() method, or by
  • using any HTTP client like Guzzle

Broker request

// Post to modify the user info
$broker->request('POST', '/login', $credentials);

// Get user info
$user = $broker->request('GET', '/user');

The request() method uses Curl to send HTTP requests, adding the bearer token for authentication. It expects a JSON response and will automatically decode it.

HTTP library (Guzzle)

To use a library like Guzzle or Httplug, get the bearer token using getBearerToken() and set the Authorization header

$guzzle = new GuzzleHttp\Client(['base_uri' => 'https://sso-server.example.com']);

$res = $guzzle->request('GET', '/user', [
    'headers' => [
        'Authorization' => 'Bearer ' . $broker->getBearerToken()

Client state

By default, the Broker uses the cookies ($_COOKIE and setcookie()) via the Cookies class to persist the client's SSO token.


Instantiate a new Cookies object with custom parameters to modify things like cookie TTL, domain and https only.

use Jasny\SSO\Broker\{Broker,Cookies};

$broker = (new Broker(getenv('SSO_SERVER'), getenv('SSO_BROKER_ID'), getenv('SSO_BROKER_SECRET')))
    ->withTokenIn(new Cookies(7200, '/myapp', 'example.com', true));

(The cookie can never be accessed by the browser.)


Alternatively, you can store the SSO token in a PHP session for the broker by using Session.

use Jasny\SSO\Broker\{Broker,Session};


$broker = (new Broker(getenv('SSO_SERVER'), getenv('SSO_BROKER_ID'), getenv('SSO_BROKER_SECRET')))
    ->withTokenIn(new Session());


The method accepts any object that implements ArrayAccess, allowing you to create a custom handler if needed.

class CustomStateHandler implements \ArrayAccess
    // ...

This can also be used with a mock object for testing.