Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


KeyCorp Unlocks Method for Extending Single Sign-on

Financial services firm looks to stretch SSO to business partners

Ed Keck likes his company's single sign-on technology so well, he wants to extend it to include his business partners. But while the technology to make that leap isn't a problem, there are some business process issues that aren't so easy to jump.

As vice president of security strategy and governance and lead security strategist at KeyCorp., Keck has been a beta tester for a number of security products from IBM’s Tivoli product line. Now KeyCorp. is working with Tivoli to do something that few financial firms have done before: extend single sign-on beyond its own corporate boundaries.

KeyCorp is a financial services provider with about 19,000 employees and $100 billion in assets. The bank has branches in 26 geographic areas, spanning from New York to Colorado, with New York and Ohio its prime areas. A complex IT infrastructure, with approximately 750 applications running on mainframes, client/server systems, and Web servers, supports the business.

Like many other companies at the turn of the millennium, KeyCorp determined it needed to safeguard its growing number of Internet applications. Deploying and managing the necessary security checks for those applications was a time consuming and tedious task.

To improve its efficiencies, the company wanted to move to a single sign-on system -- and to do that, the bank needed a unified authentication and authorization mechanism. After examining the landscape, (Keck declined to name the other products he evaluated), KeyCorp selected IBM’s Tivoli Access Manager.

"We decided that the least intrusive way to deploy the new security features was to include them whenever an application was scheduled for a new release,” Keck explained.

There were bumps on the road. On occasion, different applications collided because of the way that they used common services, such as namespaces. There were also a few cases where the financial institution’s back-end and front-end interfaces were not as well integrated as the company had hoped.

Eventually, those issues were ironed out. Gradually, KeyCorp. put structured development, testing, quality assurance, and production processes in place, so the security functions were deployed in a consistent manner. About 300 applications, covering most of its major business processes, now rely on Tivoli Access Manager to authenticate users.

The benefits have been significant. Because the bank has standard security services for its applications, programmers no longer have to develop that code and can complete new releases more quickly. Also, employees can enter one password and move from one application to another.

To extend those features beyond its own boundaries, the bank is now coupling Tivoli Access Manager 6.1 with Tivoli Federated Identity Manager 6.0. "Our business partners will be able to securely authenticate themselves with us without having to log in one more time and expose their credentials to the Internet," Keck stated.

The bank has been testing this capability to ease data exchanges with its partners. The testing and design have gone well, but the changes in business processes have been tricky to navigate. Because the financial services company (like any other enterprise moving down this path) is venturing into new territory, legal issues -- such as who owns the password and ID, who can pass what information to whom, and who is responsible if a problem arises -- have been taking time to sort out.

"Working through the contractual verbiage can be time consuming, and you should begin work on it early, so you are ready when the technology is deployed," advised Keck.

The new features are expected to be put into production by the end of the second quarter, making it possible for both external and internal data exchanges to benefit from a federated, single sign-on security system.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

IBM Tivoli Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
A Startup With NSA Roots Wants Silently Disarming Cyberattacks on the Wire to Become the Norm
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/11/2021
Cybersecurity: What Is Truly Essential?
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  5/12/2021
3 Cybersecurity Myths to Bust
Etay Maor, Sr. Director Security Strategy at Cato Networks,  5/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google Maps is taking "interactive" to a whole new level!
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
RabbitMQ installers on Windows prior to version 3.8.16 do not harden plugin directory permissions, potentially allowing attackers with sufficient local filesystem permissions to add arbitrary plugins.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
There's a flaw in libxml2 in versions before 2.9.11. An attacker who is able to submit a crafted file to be processed by an application linked with libxml2 could trigger a use-after-free. The greatest impact from this flaw is to confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
A flaw was found in the Red Hat Ceph Storage RGW in versions before 14.2.21. When processing a GET Request for a swift URL that ends with two slashes it can cause the rgw to crash, resulting in a denial of service. The greatest threat to the system is of availability.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
TCP firewalls could be circumvented by sending a SYN Packets with other flags (like e.g. RST flag) set, which was not correctly discarded by the Linux TCP stack after firewalling.
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-18
A flaw was found in OpenLDAP. This flaw allows an attacker who can send a malicious packet to be processed by OpenLDAP’s slapd server, to trigger an assertion failure. The highest threat from this vulnerability is to system availability.