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The "Hide From Discovery" entity category is a category of Identity Providers that are intended not to be shown on discovery interfaces by default.

Hide From Discovery Category Specification

InCommon's implementation of the Hide From Discovery Category and the use of the hide-from-discovery entity attribute (described below) conform to the REFEDS Hide From Discovery Category specification.

The hide-from-discovery entity attribute is self-asserted by IdP operators but InCommon Operations may insert the hide-from-discovery entity attribute into any IdP entity descriptor at its discretion.



By and large, participants register an IdP for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. To interoperate with providers of commercial vendor services called Sponsored Partners
  2. To interoperate with Enterprise Services (co-located in the same security domain as the IdP)
  3. To interoperate with cross-domain Federation Services such as Research & Scholarship Category services and other collaborative services

To interoperate with Sponsored Partners and Enterprise Services, a bilateral arrangement is often needed, whereas cross-domain Federation Services are "promiscuous" in the sense that they are willing and able to interoperate with any IdP. This gives rise to IdP Discovery, a user-driven process (or interface) to discover the federated user's preferred IdP.

An IdP that interoperates solely with Sponsored Partners and/or Enterprise Services may not need (or want) to be exposed on arbitrary discovery interfaces, in which case the IdP should declare the hide-from-discovery entity attribute in metadata. Federation Services can (and should) filter such IdPs from their discovery interfaces.

Be aware that InCommon Operations reserves the right to insert the hide-from-discovery entity attribute into any IdP entity descriptor at its discretion. Possible reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • The IdP is known not to consume InCommon metadata on a daily basis.
  • The IdP is in a domain name that is not public.
  • The IdP has endpoints that are behind a firewall.

Declaring the Entity Attribute

An IdP calls out its desire to Hide From Discovery by asserting the following entity attribute in metadata (whitespace added for readability):


To assert the hide-from-discovery entity attribute in IdP metadata, a Site Administrator logs into the Federation Manager, clicks the "Update" next to the IdP you wish to update, and opts into the Hide From Discovery Category by clicking the checkbox next to the row labeled "Hide from Discovery" under the Entity Attributes section. 

Configure a Shibboleth SP to Filter Hide from Discovery IdPs

To configure an instance of Shibboleth SP 2.5 (and later) to filter on the Hide From Discovery entity attribute, add the following DiscoveryFilter to your MetadataProvider:

Hide all hide-from-discovery IdPs on the discovery interface
<!-- Hide all IdPs with the hide-from-discovery entity attribute. -->
<!-- (Hiding an IdP from the discovery interface does NOT prevent -->
<!-- the SP from accepting an assertion from the IdP.) -->
<DiscoveryFilter type="Blacklist" matcher="EntityAttributes" trimTags="true"

See the Shibboleth Metadata Config topic for a complete example that includes the above DiscoveryFilter.

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