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Wonderwall (sidecar for authentication)

Wonderwall is an application that implements an OpenID Connect (OIDC) Relying Party (client) in a way that makes it easy to plug into Kubernetes as a sidecar.


Wonderwall functions as a reverse proxy that intercepts and proxies requests to your application. It provides endpoints to perform logins and logouts for end users, along with session management - so that your application does not have to.

All HTTP requests to the application will be intercepted by Wonderwall, which is attached to your application's pod as a sidecar.

If the user does not have a valid local session with the sidecar, the request will be proxied as-is without modifications to the application container.

In order to obtain a local session, the user must be redirected to the /oauth2/login endpoint, which performs the OpenID Connect Authorization Code Flow.

If the user successfully completed the login flow, the sidecar creates and stores a session. A corresponding session cookie is created and set before finally redirecting user agent to the application. All requests that are forwarded to the application container will now contain an Authorization header with the user's access_token:

Authorization: Bearer <JWT_ACCESS_TOKEN>

Your application is responsible for validating the access_token.


The platform allows for integration with the following providers:


Wonderwall aims to be compliant with OAuth 2.1, and supports the following:


The image below shows the overall architecture of an application when using Wonderwall as a sidecar:


Wonderwall architecture

The sequence diagram below shows the default behavior of the sidecar:

Sequence Diagram

Wonderwall sequence diagram

Generally speaking, the recommended approach when using the Wonderwall sidecar is to put it in front of your backend-for-frontend server that serves your frontend. Otherwise, you might run into issues with the cookie configuration and allowed redirects - these are both effectively restricted to only match the domain and path for your application's ingress.


The sidecar provides these endpoints under your application's ingress:

Path Description
/oauth2/login Initiates the OpenID Connect Authorization Code flow
/oauth2/callback Handles the callback from the identity provider
/oauth2/logout Initiates local and global/single-logout
/oauth2/logout/frontchannel Handles global logout request (initiated by identity provider on behalf of another client)



The contract for usage of the sidecar is fairly simple.

For any endpoint that requires authentication:

  1. Validate the Authorization header as specified in the application guidelines.
  2. If the Authorization header is missing, redirect the user to the login endpoint.
  3. If the JWT access_token in the Authorization header is invalid or expired, redirect the user to the login endpoint.
  4. If you need to log out a user, redirect the user to the logout endpoint.

1. Initiate Login

When you must authenticate a user, redirect to the user to:


The user will be sent to the identity provider for authentication and then back to the sidecar's callback endpoint.

1.1. Redirect after Login

After the callback is handled and the user is successfully authenticated, the user will be redirected according to these rules in ascending priority:

  1. / (default).
  2. The URL set in the Referer header.
  3. The URL or relative path set in the query parameter redirect, e.g:

The host and scheme (if provided) are stripped from the redirect URL, which effectively only allows redirects to paths within your own ingress.

1.2. Autologin

If you want all routes to your application to require an authenticated session, you can enable auto-login by setting the autoLogin field to true:

      autoLogin: true

This will configure the sidecar to automatically redirect any user to login when attempting to browse to any path for your application. You should still validate and check theAuthorization header and the token within as specified in the application guidelines.

2. Initiate Logout

When you must log a user out, redirect to the user to:


The user's session with the sidecar will be cleared, and the user will be redirected to the identity provider for global logout.

3. Token Validation


Your application should secure its own endpoints. That is, deny access to sensitive endpoints if the appropriate authentication is not supplied.

Your application should also validate the claims and signature for the JWT access_token attached by the sidecar.

Each provider may have some differences in claims and values; see their specific page for details:

4. Error Handling

Authentication should generally not fail. However, in the event that it does happen; the sidecar automatically presents the end-users with a simple error page that allows the user to retry the authentication flow.

If you wish to customize or handle these errors yourselves, set the errorPath property to the relative path within your ingress that should handle such requests. For example:

      errorPath: /login/error

The sidecar will now redirect any errors to this path (i.e. https://<ingress>/<errorPath>), along with the following query parameters:

  • correlation_id - UUID that uniquely identifies the request, for tracing and log correlation.
  • status_code - HTTP status code which indicates the type of error that occurred.

Responsibilities & Guarantees

The sidecar:

  • Adds the Authorization header with the user's JWT access token to the original request if the user has a valid session.
  • Removes the Authorization header from the original request if the user does not have a valid session.
  • Owns the /oauth2 endpoints defined above and intercepts all HTTP requests to these. They will never be forwarded to your application.
  • Is safe to enable and use with multiple replicas of your application.
  • Stores session data to a highly available Redis service on Aiven, and falls back to using cookies if the former is unavailable.
  • Validates the id_token acquired from this flow in accordance with the OpenID Connect specifications.

The sidecar does not:

  • Automatically refresh the user's tokens.
  • Secure your application's endpoints in any way.
  • Validate the user's access_token set in the Authorization header. The token may be invalid or expired by the time your application receives it.