Perimeter
9/24/2011
02:32 PM
Taher Elgamal
Taher Elgamal
Commentary
50%
50%

Identity Federation Versus PKI

Neither technology alone offers the ultimate user authentication infrastructure

This may seem to defend PKI, which is hardly the case, but it is interesting to learn from the past as we plan for the future.

PKI has been tainted over the last several years as difficult to implement and hard to build a good trust model on. These is actually mostly the result of a few choices that were made years ago without taking into consideration the practical issues.

So here comes identity federation, with the promise of solving the trust problems. However, identity federation really only works in small circles of already-known entities, as the meaning of the identity can easily map into the authentication domain. The original purpose of a PKI was to enable "a globally recognized" credential with specific attributes -- this is not easy to solve within a federated model.

Can we combine the two notions? Do we have to? The ultimate user authentication infrastructure needs to solve both the local trust issue as well as lead to a well-designed access control mechanism. Neither of these are quite achieved with a pure PKI or a federation system.

Recognized in the industry as the "inventor of SSL," Dr. Taher Elgamal led the SSL efforts at Netscape. He also wrote the SSL patent and promoted SSL as the Internet security standard within standard committees and the industry. Dr. Elgamal invented several industry and government standards in data security and digital signatures area, including the DSS government standard for digital signatures. In addition to serving on numerous corporate advisory boards, Dr. Elgamal is the Chief Security Officer at Axway, a global provider of multi-enterprise solutions and infrastructure. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University. View more of his blog posts here.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2130
Published: 2015-03-05
Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS) provides an unintentional administration web interface based on Apache Tomcat, which allows remote authenticated users to modify application files and configuration files, and consequently execute arbitrary code, by leveraging administrative privileges, aka B...

CVE-2014-9688
Published: 2015-03-05
Unspecified vulnerability in the Ninja Forms plugin before 2.8.10 for WordPress has unknown impact and remote attack vectors related to admin users.

CVE-2015-0598
Published: 2015-03-05
The RADIUS implementation in Cisco IOS and IOS XE allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (device reload) via crafted IPv6 Attributes in Access-Accept packets, aka Bug IDs CSCur84322 and CSCur27693.

CVE-2015-0607
Published: 2015-03-05
The Authentication Proxy feature in Cisco IOS does not properly handle invalid AAA return codes from RADIUS and TACACS+ servers, which allows remote attackers to bypass authentication in opportunistic circumstances via a connection attempt that triggers an invalid code, as demonstrated by a connecti...

CVE-2015-0657
Published: 2015-03-05
Cisco IOS XR allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (RSVP process reload) via a malformed RSVP packet, aka Bug ID CSCur69192.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.