Sun OpenSSO Enterprise 8.0 Technical Overview

Using WS-Federation

WS-Federation is part of the larger Web Services Security (WS-Security) framework which provides a means for applying security to web services through the use of security tokens. WS-Security describes how to attach signature and encryption headers as well as security tokens (including binary security tokens such as X.509 certificates and Kerberos tickets) to SOAP messages. WS-Trust, another specification in the WS-Security framework, provides for federation by defining a Security Token Service (STS) and a protocol for requesting and issuing the security tokens. WS-Federation, as implemented in OpenSSO Enterprise, uses the OpenSSO Enterprise Security Token Service (modelled on the WS-Trust specification) to allow providers in different security realms to broker trust using information on identities, identity attributes and authentication, and provider federation. A principal requests a token from the Security Token Services. This token, which may represent the principal's primary identity, a pseudonym, or the appropriate attributes, is presented to the service provider for authentication and authorization. WS-Federation uses several security tokens as well as the mechanism for associating them with messages. This release of OpenSSO Enterprise has implemented the following features of the WS-Federation specification.

The WS-Federation implementation in OpenSSO Enterprise is based on the application's SAML v2 code and uses WS-Federation 1.1 metadata. Authentication request parameters are represented directly as GET parameters, and the authentication response is a WS-Trust RequestSecurityTokenResponse element.

Note –

There is no authentication context mapping, persistent or transient NameID identifiers or auto-federation in the OpenSSO Enterprise implementation of WS-Federation.

The entry points for all WS-Federation functionality will be implemented as servlets. JavaServer Pages (JSP) are used only for HTML content (for example, the HTML form used to send the WS-Federation single response from the identity provider to the service provider). The following figure illustrates the flow of messages between OpenSSO Enterprise (acting as the service provider) and the Active Directory (acting as the identity provider).

Figure 11–6 WS-Federation Process Flow

Process flow of WS-Federation functionality

In a WS-Federation interaction, the request by an unauthenticated user attempting to access a protected web site is redirected to the Active Directory for Federation Services (ADFS) identity provider. After the user is authenticated (either by a back-end single sign-on or by entering credentials), ADFS posts a form containing a signed SAML assertion to the service provider. The service provider validates the assertion, copies the attributes into the user's session, and gives the appropriate access.

Note –

Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services supports single sign-on via WS-Federation.