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Internet2 WebISO Project
RL "Bob" Morgan, University of Washington
October 3, 2001
Topics
How it came to be
Project status
WebISO defined
Project goals
Architecture/Interface
How it came to be
Shibboleth project assumption:
• every campus has intra-campus web authentication
• startling discovery: not true
The MACE way: do something about it
• brief search for likely sharable implementations
• U of Washington's "pubcookie" chosen as starting
point
• project started to make "appropriate progress"
• now looking at architectural issues
WebISO project status
It's live:
• web: http://middleware.internet2.edu/webiso/
• email: [email protected], 40 on list
• phone calls: bi-weekly, 3:30PM ET Tuesdays
• active work on refining project goals
Pubcookie distribution
• 10 sites with code, 1 non-UW deployment (CMU), a
few pending; BSD-style license
• CMU-contributed changes being incorporated
• freely-available distribution posted shortly
WebISO defined
Organizational web-based sign-on system
Typically includes:
• single sign-on (only "type something" once to access
multiple targets)
• use of standard authentication backend (LDAP,
Kerberos, NIS, NT, etc)
• keep passwords away from application web servers
(have them only entered into "weblogin" server)
"Most reinvented technology of the '90s"
WebISO components
Module for application webservers
• check for authentication info on request, if not found
redirect browser to weblogin server
• interpret authentication info, pass to web application
Weblogin server
• accept redirected request, prompt for
userid/password (or other authn method)
• return browser to target webserver, with authn info
Message format for appserver <-> weblogin
The pubcookie story
"Just another webiso"
• written in C
• Apache, MS-IIS target web servers
• Apache-based weblogin
• Kerberos 5 backend built-in, others possible
• in production since 1999
• web-based documentation
• signed/encrypted messages, sent using cookies
• works with almost all browsers
Pubcookie planned improvements
• better docs, clearer installation procedures
• more authentication backends, pluggable
• X.509 client cert authn, Kerberos client authn
• variable-length SSO session support
• per-user, per-server settings
• "blinded" userids
• easier/automatic key management
• authn tokens in URLs (cross-DNS-domains)
• robustness, quality assurance, modularity ...
• many require rethinking, justification, threat model
Project goals
Not just pubcookie enhancement/support
Work with partner projects to ensure meeting
requirements:
• uPortal (http://mis105.mis.udel.edu/ja-sig/uportal/)
• Open Knowledge Initiative (http://mit.edu/oki)
• Shibboleth
Define architecture and interface to which
multiple webiso implementations can
conform
WebISO architecture + interface
Application interface
• many issues similar to Shibboleth target arch
• webisos typically supply plain old userid
–what about authorization data?
–what about privacy protection?
• forced/step-up authentication
–app specifying authn method
(pubcookie supports both Kerberos and SecurID)
–app selectively turning off SSO
• session management
–e.g., "single sign-off" from all apps at once
Webiso design centers
Webiso implementations differ in approach
• support for admin apps: high security/control
• support for student-run apps: simplicity, ease of
install/support
• assume local software on client (eg Kerb plugin)
• cross-DNS-domain support required
• assume underlying authn infra (Kerb, X.509)
• support home-grown apps, package apps, static
pages
Can one package do it all?
Application interface 2
The 3-tier problem (aka delegation)
• seen by many app servers that need to access
backend services (eg IMAP) on behalf of user
• seen by all portals that act as intermediaries
• many sites implement "practical" solutions
• can webiso provide a standard approach?
• will any solution be dependent on underlying
delegation technology, eg Kerberos or X.509?
• is this a WebISO project problem?
Conclusion
WebISO project up and running
Pubcookie code available
Architecture/interface issues engaged
Sites still reinventing, so need is there
Partner projects need support
http://middleware.internet2.edu/webiso/
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