Archive for the ‘Federation’ Category

Winner: Best of TechEd 2013 – Cloud Computing!

June 10, 2013

At TechEd 2013 last week in New Orleans, Optimal IdM was selected the WINNER of the first ever Cloud Computing category of Best of TechEd 2013 by Windows IT Pro!  It was quite an honor to see the VIS for Office 365™ solution receive the respect for this new category.

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Extending ADFS to Multiple Identity and Attribute Stores (Part 2 of 2: The Tough Questions)

June 9, 2012

In part 1 of 2 in this blog I addressed the basics of extending ADFS.  In this blog (part 2 of 2), I will cover some of the more important questions that should be asked prior to setting out to building your own Identity Provider (IdP) / Security Token Service (STS) or Attribute store vs. purchasing a supported solution from a 3rd party vendor.

Questions to ask yourself:

  •  Does your company/firm want to maintain custom development for security related operations?  Typically this is not a good practice.   If you do, you need to ensure that you do it right and make sure that  the code you develop can be reused within the company for other uses so you have some sense of standards.  An STS should be robust and configurable to handle the entire companies authentication needs, otherwise you have one-off’s.
  • Is your company opposed to purchasing 3rd party software products?  For some folks this is the case, and for some it’s because of cost.  Just keep in mind the full cost of your time and effort to design, develop and maintain your solution vs. buying.  In many cases, the cost (tangible and intangible of developing) far out way that of purchasing.
  • Does your company/firm have the knowledge to development and maintain security software?  If you are a business application developer, then spending your development cycles writing security software may be a waste of your expertise/time.
  • Do we need to deliver a solution that scales and performs for all users?  If so, you will need to factor in features that may become a burden if you haven’t done them before, such as maintaining LDAP connection pools.  It is not feasible to scale creating and destroying connections for every authentication.
  • Do we already have expertise in federation?  If not, then you will be spending many days/nights researching terms and trying to figure out all of the many moving part within federation.  Microsoft’s WIF does make the task of building an STS somewhat easy, but if you don’t understand what it does under the covers, then you will have a difficult time trying to customize your solution to meet your business needs.
  • How many Relying Parties do you need to support?  If you plan to deploy your STS along with ADFS, then this may not be an issue.  Otherwise, if you have more than one (or plan to have more than one), you will need to factor that into your design and configuration utility.  Will you build a configuration utility or make it hard to install/configure/maintain?
  • Do you need to encrypt your assertions or just sign them?  In either case, you’re going to have to know the difference and how to implement them.  When signing, you need a certificate with the private key.  When encrypting, you only get the public key from the RP.
  • Do you need to support the FederationMetaData.xml file?  This is built into WIF, but maintaining it can be a chore (especially when working with certificates).
  • Do you need to implement a proper sign-out process?  This is available in WIF, but the process of signing users out of ADFS (as an RP) vs. signing users out of other RP’s is different and can be quite tough to get right.  The secret here is the ensure that you have given enough time to properly call the sign-out process in all of the places that your users are logged into (yes, you will need to track this yourself).
  • Do you have the free time on your hands to actually complete this development effort?  We have seen several people come to us after spending significant cycles in research and development for various reasons.
  • Do you have any authentication method planned out or will you be attempting to support many different types?  Such as:  User/Pwd, Integrated, Certificate, DoD CAC-Cards, Open ID, Custom SSO, etc.  If you are able to nail down one or 2 of these, you’d be better off, but when designing you have to plan for the future.
  • Speaking of design.  Will you develop a formal design document?
  • Do you have any auditing requirements?  If so, you really need to spend some time detailing out what it is you need to audit and where you plan to store the data.  Make sure the auditing is running on a separate thread from your login process to avoid any slowness in processing authentication.
  • If building custom, do you know how to build code that is not vulnerable to penetration testing, denial of service attacks, or cross-site scripting attacks?  Do you know what these are? Have you ever developed code that has been tested under these scenarios?  Remember, since your code is handling authentication and has access to user id’s and passwords security is paramount.  Can you afford a data breach such as Linked In where 6 million account passwords were compromised?
  • From an organization standpoint, what happens when the developer (maybe you) leaves the company?  Many developers want to develop “cool” things and you may be that person so you may be biased.  What is right for the company?

Finally, make sure you consider the following items as well if you plan to develop your own STS:

  • Timeouts & Token Sessions (including sliding scale tokens & cookie paths).  Do you know that these are?
  • Make sure your sign-out page is not a protected page (in case your STS token expires prior to your RP token)
  • Encrypt your connection information (passwords in your configuration files, etc.).  Don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to develop a solid encryption mechanism.  Remember this server is performing authentication and vulnerable to opening up security holes.
  • Ensure that you are handling byte arrays properly from LDAP.  For example, if you are working with AD/AD-LDS attributes such as the “objectGuid” or “objectSid”, remember to handle converting these values properly (Sid’s are converted/formatted differently than other byte arrays).
  • Make sure you fully understand all the query-strings in play in federation and how to handle them.  Note that some of the query-string values have query-strings themselves.

 

For more information on the Optimal IdM VIS Federation Services, go here.

Virtual Identity Server for Office 365

May 5, 2012

If you are thinking of going to the cloud you may want to take a look at our new offering at Optimal IdM (Virtual Identity Server for Office 365).  A quick look at some of the features and benefits are below:

  • Fast and easy multi-forest support (no changes needed to any of your data in AD)
  • Firewall for your LDAP
  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Multi-Authentication Types (Windows Integrated, Client Cert, DoD CAC, SSO, and more)
  • Non-Routable UPN support (again, no changes needed to any of your data in AD)
  • Auditing
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
  • Support for desktop clients (Lync & Outlook) as well as all web apps (Portal, OWA & Lync web)
  • Support for provisioning and synchronization including and filtering of what data goes to the cloud
  • and much more…

Extending ADFS to Multiple Identity and Attribute Stores (Part 1 of 2: The Basics)

April 17, 2012

There is much discussion these days about Active Directory Federation Services 2.0  (ADFS) and the out-of-the-box support of identity and attribute data other than Active Directory (AD).  In this blog (part 1 of 2), I plan to cover the basics of extending ADFS using the Microsoft Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) components.  In part 2 of 2, I will cover some of the more important questions that should be asked prior to setting out to build your own Identity Provider (IdP) / Security Token Service (STS) or Attribute store vs. purchasing a supported solution from a 3rd party vendor.

Currently ADFS only supports (out-of-the-box), authentication (identity information) and authorization (attribute/claim information), directly from Active Directory (AD).  However, what many people are missing is the fact that ADFS does ship with a Framework (WIF) to extend ADFS to meet just about any need you may have for both authentication and authorization.

If your identity information is located in a store other than AD, you can choose to build your own IdP/STS for authentication from the framework provided or purchase one from 3rd party vendor that is formerly supported such as the Optimal IdM Federated Services product.  If you are looking to augment the claim information with attribute data that is located in a store other than AD/AD-LDS or SQL, you can choose to build your own Attribute store for authorization which is a pluggable module in ADFS or again, purchase one from a 3rd party vendor.  The Optimal IdM Federated Services product also includes a pluggable attribute store module that can surface attribute/claims from many different stores including nearly every LDAP on the market (ADAM, AD-LDS, Sun, Oracle, eDirectory, Open LDAP, OpenDS, etc.)  as well as most databases (SQL, Oracle, DB2, etc.).

Writing your own IdP/STS or Attribute store, isn’t extremely difficult, however, you need to first determine what features are most important to your organization prior to setting out to write your own.  Here are just some of the features that are included in the Optimal IdM Federated Services product and commonly used by many of Optimal IdM’s customers and should be considered:

  • Authenticate users from multiple AD forests without any forest level trusts in place
  • Authenticate users from many different backend systems (AD, ADAM, AD-LDS, Sun, Oracle, eDirectory, Open LDAP, OpenDS, etc.)
  • Authentication methods such as traditional forms-based, Windows Integrated, client digital certificates, DoD CAC cards, 2-factor  (Keep in mind that ADFS only support user/pwd and Windows Integrated Authentication out-of-the-box)
  • SSO support for existing IdM systems via header variables or cookie based solutions
  • OpenID Integration
  • Denial of Service (DoS) prevention
  • Proxy capabilities
  • Load-Balancing & Failover on front end web and backend data stores
  • Assertion Encryption
  • Audit logging of assertion and claim/attribute information
  • Federated Sign-out
  • Change Password & Forgot Password (Self-Service Password Reset)
  • Built-in connection pooling and performance optimizations for high-volume usage
  • Virtual Attributes & data translations/filtering
  • Passive & Active Profile
  • Office 365 integration including synchronization of on premise identities to the cloud and federated login with client applications (Lync, SharePoint, Outlook, etc.)

In Part 2 of 2, I will discuss the key questions that should be asked before embarking on the build vs. buy scenario for extending ADFS.

Extend AD FS 2.0 to leverage powerful features of a virtual directory with Virtual Identity Server Federation Services!

March 10, 2011

After overwhelming requests from our clients and prospects, it’s finally here!!  Yes, the Virtual Identity Server Federation Services™ (VIS Federation Services).  VIS FS seamlessly integrates with AD FS 2.0 to extend AD FS 2.0’s powerful features to now include the ability to support authentications from multiple data repositories as well as support for multiple authentications methods (traditional forms-based as well as Windows Integrated and SSO from other Identity Management systems.  Read the full Press Release here.

Any claims-aware application that supports AD FS 2.0 (such as SharePoint 2010 and Unified Access Gateway or UAG) can now leverage the powerful features of the Virtual Identity Server (Virtual Directory), without even knowing about VIS!  Simply configure the claims-aware application to AD FS 2.0, then configure AD FS 2.0 to trust the new VIS FS STS, and that’s it!!  For more details about this new product, please stop by our booth at The Experts Conference 2011 in Las Vegas April 17-20!

When to Synchronize, Virtualize and Federate data in the Enterprise

April 14, 2010

Another Managing Partner at Optimal IdM, Mike Brengs, posted a new blog today that has truly been a sore topic for some folks.   The topic is centered on when companies should consider using one technology over another, in this case, when to synchronize, when to virtualize and when to federate data within an enterprise.

These technologies have some level of overlap, but it is critical to know when to use each one and more importantly when not to use one.  I’ve known Mike a long time and he loves to use the analogy that you can drive a car from one end of the country to the other (say New York to Los Angeles), but the better choice to get from one to the other is certainly not by driving these days, but rather by flying.  The same logic should be applied with these technologies, for example, you may choose to duplicate/sync your users from two different AD forests into a consolidated ‘enterprise’ directory, but you must consider the new problems you just created to solve other problems and perhaps choose a alternative solution.

The bottom line on this topic is that you should consider that for each problem you are attempting to solve, how many new problems are you creating?  In the above example, you know have created a password synchronization problem with your solution (not to mention data latency), so be careful with your choices.

The whte paper Mike is referring to also includes detailed use-cases on this topic combined with the Virtual Identity Server.  Click the link to download the new white paper ‘When to Synchronize, Virtualize and Federate data in the Enterprise‘ white paper.