Grant McLean > Authen-NZigovt-1.05 > Authen::NZigovt



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Module Version: 1.05   Source   Latest Release: Authen-NZigovt-1.07


Authen::NZigovt - Tools for integrating with the New Zealand igovt logon service


This module provides an API for integrating your application with the New Zealand igovt logon service using SAML 2.0 messaging.

The distribution also includes a command-line tool called nzigovt which can be used for:

Run nzigovt --help for more information about using the command-line tool.


You cannot simply drop some config files in a directory and start authenticating users. Your agency will need to establish a Service Provider role with the logon service and complete the required integration steps. Your first step should be to make contact with the igovt logon service and arrange a meeting.


To integrate the igovt logon service with your application, you will need to:

  1. complete a number of configuration steps (see "CONFIGURATION" below)
  2. link this module into your application to initiate the logon (by redirecting the user to the igovt logon service) and to 'consume' the login information when the user is redirected back to your site

To understand how this module must be linked into your application, it helps to understand the SAML protocol interaction that is followed for each user logon:

  Agency Web Site                                 igovt logon server

                     | 1. user visits agency   |
               .-----|    web site and clicks  |
               |     |   'igovt logon' button  |
               v     '-------------------------'
  | 2. SAML AuthnRequest    |
  |    passed back to user  |-------------------------.
  |    via 302 redirect     |                         v
  '-------------------------'           .--------------------------.
   API call                             | 3. Logon service prompts |
                                   .----|    for username/password |
                                   v    '--------------------------'
                      | 4. user enters         |
                      |    username/password   |------.
                      '------------------------'      v
                                        | 5. SAML 'artifact'       |
              .-------------------------|    returned via redirect |
              v                         '--------------------------'
 | 6. SAML ArtifactResolve |
 |    sent direct to IdP   |--------------------------.
 '-------------------------'                          v
  API call                              .--------------------------.
                                        | 7. SAML ArtifactResponse |
              .-------------------------|    sent back to SP       |
              v                         '--------------------------'
 | 8. FLT to identify user |
 |    extracted from resp. |
  API call returns

The igovt logon server is a SAML Identity Provider or 'IdP'.

The agency web site is a SAML Service Provider or 'SP'. The Authen::NZigovt module implements the SAML SP role on behalf of the agency web app.

To integrate this module with your application, you need to make two calls to its API: the first to generate the authentication request (step 2 above) and the second to resolve the returned artifact and return the Federated Logon Tag (FLT) which identifies the user (steps 6 thru 8).

It is your responsibility to create a persistent association in your application data store between your user record and the igovt FLT for that user.

Authentication Request

You will add the igovt logon button image to your application templates. The button does not link directly to the igovt logon server, but instead links to your application which in turn uses the Authen::NZigovt module to generate a SAML AuthnRequest message encoded in a URL and returns it as a 302 redirect.

The request includes a unique 'Request ID' which you must save in the user session for use when resolving the artifact response later. The example below uses generic framework method calls to save the Request ID and return the redirect URL, you will need to replace these with specific calls for the framework you are using:

  use Authen::NZigovt;

  my $sp  = Authen::NZigovt->service_provider( conf_dir => $path_to_config_directory );
  my $req = $sp->new_request(
      allow_create => 0,         # set to 1 for initial registration
      # other options here

  $framework->set_state(igovt_request_id => $req->request_id);

  return $framework->redirect($req->as_url);  # Use HTTP status 302

Your code does not need to explicitly reference the igovt logon service domain or URL - these details are handled automatically by the configuration.

Artifact Resolution

Once the user has provided a valid username and password to the logon service, they will be redirected back to your application and an 'artifact' will be passed in a URL parameter called 'SAMLart'. You set up which URL you want the logon service to redirect back to when you generate your service provider metadata (see "CONFIGURATION"). This URL is known as the Assertion Consumer Service or 'ACS'.

A single method call is used to:

The method call will return a response object containing either an FLT or details of the condition which meant the logon was unsuccessful. In the case of an unexpected error, the method call will generate an exception which you will need to catch and log.

  my $sp   = Authen::NZigovt->service_provider( conf_dir => $path_to_config_directory );
  my $resp = eval {
          artifact   => $framework->param('SAMLart'),
          request_id => $framework->get_state('igovt_request_id'),
  if($@) {
      # handle catastrophic failures (e.g.: malformed response) here
  if($resp->is_success) {
      $framework->set_state(igovt_flt => $resp->flt);
      # ... redirect to main menu etc
  elsif($resp->is_timeout) {
      # Present logon screen again with message
  elsif($resp->is_cancel) {
      # Present logon screen again with message
  elsif($resp->is_not_registered) {
      # Only happens if allow_create set to false
      # and user does not have a logon for our site
  else {
      # Some other failure occurred, user might like to try again later.
      # Should present $resp->status_message to user and also give contact
      # details for igovt Help Desk

Note: there are two different categories of 'error': the resolve_artifact() method might throw an exception (caught by eval, details in $@); or a response object might be returned but with $resp->is_success set to false. The details of an exception should be logged, but not displayed back to the user. In the event that your application displays the contents of $resp->status_message you should ensure that you apply appropriate HTML escaping.

For reference documentation about the Service Provider API, see Authen::NZigovt::ServiceProvider.


This module is configuration-driven - when making an API call, you specify the path to the config directory and the module picks up everything it needs to talk to the NZ igovt logon service Identity Provider from metadata files and certificate/key-pair files used for signing/encryption.

Config Files Overview

The files in the config directory use the following naming convention so you just need to point the module at the right directory. The filenames are:


This file contains config parameters for the 'Service Provider' - your end of the authentication dialog. Once you have generated the SP metadata file (see: "Generating Config Files") you will need to provide it to the NZ igovt logon service to install at their end. You will need to generate separate metadata files for each of your development, staging and production environments.


The IdP or Identity Provider metadata file will be provided to you by the NZ igovt logon service. You will simply need to copy it to the config directory and give it the correct name.


This certificate file is used for generating digital signatures for the SP metadata file and SAML authentication requests. For your initial integration with the igovt logon service development IdP ('MTS'), certificate key-pair files will be provided to you. For staging (ITE) and production, you will need to generate your own and provide the certificate files (not the private key files) to the igovt logon service.


This private key is paired with the sp-sign-crt.pem certificate.


This certificate is used for negotiating an SSL connection on the backchannel to the IdP artifact resolution service.


This private key is paired with the sp-ssl-crt.pem certificate.

Generating Config Files

You must first decide which directory your config files will be stored in. The examples below assume a config directory path of /etc/nzigovt.


Once you've decided on a location, you need to generate two SSL certificates and their corresponding private keys. The first will be used for signing the SAML AuthnRequest messages and the second will be used for mutual SSL encryption of communications over the back-channel.

It is not necessary to generate the certificates on the same machine where they will be used however you must have the openssl command-line tools installed on the machine where you wish to generate them.

The process for generating certificates will depend on which environment you are connecting to:

MTS (Development)

You do not need to generate certificates at all for the MTS environment - simply use the files provided in the MTS integration resources pack. Copy them into your config directory and rename as follows:

  mts_mutualssl_saml_sp.pem => sp-sign-key.pem
  mts_mutualssl_saml_sp.cer => sp-sign-crt.pem
  mts_saml_sp.pem           => sp-ssl-key.pem
  mts_saml_sp.cer           => sp-ssl-crt.pem
ITE (Staging)

For the ITE environment you can generate self-signed certs. The nzigovt tool can prompt you interactively for the required parameters:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-certs

or you can provide them on the command-line:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-certs --env ITE \
    --org="Department of Innovation" --domain=""
PROD (Production)

For the production environment you can use the nzigovt tool to generate Certificate Signing Requests which you will then submit to a Certification Authority who will issue signed certificate files. Save them in the config directory using the filenames listed above.

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-certs --env PROD ...

SP Metadata

After you have generated the certificates, you can generate a metadata file with the command:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-meta

You will be prompted to provide the necessary details and can re-run the command to revise your answers.

Note: You can't simply edit the XML metadata file, because a digital signature is added when the file is saved.

You will need to provide the SP metadata file to the igovt logon service (via an upload to the shared workspace). For ITE and PROD you will also need to provide the certificate files. You can assemble a 'bundle' of the required files with this command:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-bundle


Normally your application would generate an authentication request URL and redirect the client to it, however it is also possible to generate one from the command-line:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt make-req

You can paste this URL into a browser and complete a log on. Once you have logged on you will be redirected back to the URL for the ACS (as specified in the SP metadata file that you uploaded). You can copy the ACS URL from your browser and paste it into the following command to resolve the artifact passed in the URL to an FLT:

  nzigovt --conf-dir /etc/nzigovt resolve <ACS URL> <Request ID>

The ACS URL will contain special characters that may need to be quoted. You'll also need to supply the Request ID which was output by the original make-req command.


The Authen::NZigovt class provides entry points for interactions with the igovt logon service and is also responsible for dispatching the various command implemented by the nzigovt command-line utility.

service_provider( conf_dir => $path_to_config_directory )

This method is the main entry point for the API. It returns a service_provider object that will then be used to generate AuthnRequest messages and to resolve the returned artifacts. Unless you have set up alternative class mappings (see below), this method is a simple wrapper for the Authen::NZigovt::ServiceProvider constructor.

class_for( identifier )

This method forms half of a simple dependency injection framework. Rather than hard-code the classnames for the various parts of the API, this method is used to turn a simple functional name (e.g.: 'service_provider') into a classname like Authen::NZigovt::ServiceProvider. This method will also load the loads the package using require.

You would not usually call this method directly - instead you would use the service_provider method which calls this.

register_class( identifier => package )

This method forms the other half of the dependency injection implementation and is used to override the default mappings. The most common reason to use this method is to inject mock object classnames for use during automated testing.

run_command( command, args )

This method is called by the nzigovt command-line tool, to delegate tasks to the appropriate classes. For more information about available commands, see nzigovt --help

Related Classes

Your application should only need to directly interface with the Service Provider module (as shown above). The service provider will delegate to other classes as required. Reference documentation is available for these other classes.


The current implementation does not attempt any validation of the SSL cert presented by the IdP when connecting over the backchannel to resolve an artifact. However, the resulting assertion is checked to confirm that a) it is a response to the specified request_id and b) the response has a valid digital signature (using the IdP public key from the metadata file).

There is no implementation of SingleLogOut functionality.

Please report any bugs or feature requests to bug-authen-nzigovt at, or through the web interface at I will be notified, and then you'll automatically be notified of progress on your bug as I make changes.


You can find documentation for this module with the perldoc command.

    perldoc Authen::NZigovt

You can also look for information at:

Commercial support and consultancy is available through Catalyst IT Limited


Copyright (c) 2010-2011 the New Zealand Electoral Enrolment Centre

Written by Grant McLean <>

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either: the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; or the Artistic License.

See for more information.

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