Oh AOS why have you forbidden me


Sometimes when services are trying to authenticate to an AOS in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, both in the Cloud version and the on-premises version, the calling application may receive the error message "forbidden" back from the AOS. This message is deliberately vague, because we don't want a calling application to be able to poke the AOS and learn about how to get in, but unfortunately that vagueness can make it difficult to figure out what is actually wrong, in this post we'll discuss what's happening in the background and how to approach troubleshooting.

Anything which is calling web services could receive this "Forbidden" error - for example an integrated 3rd party application, or Financial Reporting (formerly Management Reporter).

First let's talk about how authentication to Finance and Operations works, there are two major stages to it:

1. Authentication to AAD (in Cloud) or ADFS (in on-premises)- this is happening directly between the caller and AAD/ADFS - the AOS isn't a part of it.
2. Session creation on the AOS - here the caller is giving the token from AAD/ADFS to the AOS, then AOS attempts to create a session.

The "forbidden" error occurs during the 2nd part of the process - when the AOS is attempting to create a new session. The code within the AOS which does this has a few specific cases when it will raise this:

- Empty user SID
- Empty session key
- No such user
- User account disabled
- Cannot load user groups for user

For all of these reasons the AOS is looking at the internal setup of the user in USERINFO table - it's not looking at AAD/ADFS. In a SQL Server based environment (so Tier1 or on-premises) you can run SQL Profiler to capture the query it's running against the USERINFO table and see what it's looking for.

Examples:

- Financial Reporting (Management reporter) might report "Forbidden" if the FRServiceUser is missing or incorrect in USERINFO. This user is created automatically, but could have been modified by an Administrator when trying to import users into the database.
- When integrating 3rd party applications if the record in "System administration > setup > Azure Active Directory applications" is missing

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