Technical implementation of identity assurance requires system changes from InCommon Operations, IdPs, and SPs. This page captures lessons learned, recommended practices, and outstanding issues regarding the technical aspects of identity assurance.
The Use of SAML V2.0
Participation in the InCommon Identity Assurance Program requires the use of SAML V2.0 Web Browser SSO. IdP and SP operators should plan to upgrade to SAML V2.0 as soon as possible.
InCommon Operations will add identity assurance qualifiers (IAQs) to published metadata following notification of certification by InCommon management. IAQs will be added to the appropriate IdP entity descriptor of the certified IdP operator (IdPO).
Participants are not obligated to enforce policies or otherwise make use of these qualifiers, but they are provided so that supporting software may be configured to make use of the information when processing assertions containing assurance qualifiers.
Proposed IAQ URIs are:
There will likely be a need for non-production IAQs for use in interoperability testing, probably with test instances of metadata:
Note that all of the above URIs will resolve to actual web pages at some point.
IAQs in metadata
The following extension is the immediate child element of the IdP's
<md:EntityEescriptor> element in metadata:
<mdattr:EntityAttributes> element and the name of the SAML Attribute (
urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:attribute:assurance-certification) are defined by the OASIS specification entitled SAML V2.0 Metadata Extension for Entity Attributes and the OASIS SAML V2.0 Identity Assurance Profiles, respectively.
For convenience, we provide a set of (suitably modified) schema files that permit offline schema validation.
Ideally SPs that require a particular assurance level will initiate the assurance flow by including the desired IAQ in the SAML AuthnRequest element.
SPs will receive IAQs (either in response to a specific request, or sent unsolicited) in assertions from IdPs. SPs should use metadata to check that the IdP is authorized to assert the IAQs being asserting.
SPs will rely on local policy to decide how to handle incoming IAQs. For example if the SP requires InCommon Bronze but receives InCommon Silver, that is probably acceptable.
- Some SPs may not be able to use the AuthnRequest mechanism due to software or other limitations. Are they simply out of luck?
- One option may be to use additional software to generate requests on behalf of the broken SP, although this isn't guaranteed to work with all SPs. Otherwise, such SPs will be forced to rely on OOB configuration of IdPs.
- How is the AuthnRequest configured using the Shib SP? The simpleSAMLphp SP?
- Shibboleth SPs can rely on the
authnContextClassRefsetting to control the value requested when particular resources are accessed. To include multiple values in a request, the AuthnRequest "template" mechanism described in the SessionInitiator documentation can be used.
- Shibboleth SPs can rely on the
- Boarding process: Since an IAQ in metadata makes a statement about certification (not live service), how does an SP determine that an IdP supports assurance operationally (ala attribute support)? One approach is to include
<saml:Attribute>elements in IdP metadata. Other approaches?
- There is no metadata support for this requirement. SPs should be able to handle errors returned by IdPs that indicate the requested assurance level was not supported. The federation should help establish guidelines for describing such errors, perhaps with a FAQ page that could be linked in.
- Does the Shib SP software support the metadata check? Does the simpleSAMLphp SP?
- The Shibboleth SP can extract and make available the entity attribute value in a variable along with user attributes, and use the variable in authorization policy. This is described under "metadata attribute extraction".
- What matching rules are recommended, or acceptable?
- How is an SP supposed to "know" that Silver is acceptable in lieu of Bronze? Is there a role for InCommon to provide "advice"?
- How should an SP perform LoA escalation to allow for a need for increased LoA in an application when a user transitions from a context that needs little or no assurance, to a context that requires a higher LoA?