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.

Perimeter

8/28/2012
11:01 AM
Gunnar Peterson
Gunnar Peterson
Commentary
50%
50%

ID Don't Mean A Thing Unless It's Got That Integration Thing

Architecture astronauts talk identity strategy, but pros talk identity integration logistics

When embarking on identity and access management (IAM) architecture and development efforts, the initial phases often churn through finding the "right" standard or protocol to use. Should the project use OpenID or SAML or IWA or something else altogether? While its important to sort through the tradeoffs and design considerations (after all the Cloud Security Alliance alone mentions 27 different identity standards!), selecting Identity protocols and standards is the beginning not the end.

The critical next steps include a plan for integrating the selected identity protocol and standards into the overall application. This step causes way more stumbling than it should. By now, we should know that there are no silver bullets in infosec. But even today, enterprises write RFIs and RFPs that hone in on support for a specific standard and yet gloss over the importance of integration.

Identity has made tremendous progress over the past decade, in my view progress on standards like SAML and XACML has been the "quiet revolution" in delivering more efficacy to real world security. But the standards and products that support them are not enough by themselves if they cannot integrate to your application then we are left with yet another silo or worse yet --- shelfware.

How should IAM architects avoid integration traps? The first step is identifying the integration targets. Every protocol and standard is different but at a minimum there are likely to be two integration points -- First Mile integration and Last Mile integration.

The First Mile is responsible to find and package the claims about the user subject. First Mile integration generally means being able to communicate with data stores and processes such as user activity, logins, user authentication, user stores, directories, attribute stores, and account information. In SAML, this often occurs via the Identity provider communication with user directory such as Active Directory.

The Last Mile is responsible to make and enforce access control decisions based on the claims its sent via the identity provider. This process can be summed up as"you assert, we decide." The Last Mile must be integrated with the application, service provider, Web service interface, mobile service or Web app. The extent of this integration is pretty variable. Most of the time it's a fairly coarse-grained authorization check, but there's been movement towards finer-grained access control through attribute based access control and standards like XACML that enable deeper integration and more policy-based authorization.

In both the First Mile and Last Mile integration points, the IAM Architect's job is to define the breadth and depth of integration. The architecture must factor in the communication protocols, data formats, token types, and other hooks to applications and data stores required to get the job done.

There's an old military saying that amateurs discuss tactics, armchair generals discuss strategy, but professionals discuss logistics. There's plenty of tactics and strategy necessary to light up a new identity protocol in your company, but successful IAM pros must plan for integration logistics, too.

Gunnar Peterson is a Managing Principal at Arctec Group Gunnar Peterson (@oneraindrop) works on AppSec - Cloud, Mobile and Identity. He maintains a blog at http://1raindrop.typepad.com. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19040
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-17
KairosDB through 1.2.2 has XSS in view.html because of showErrorMessage in js/graph.js, as demonstrated by view.html?q= with a '"sampling":{"value":"<script>' substring.
CVE-2019-19041
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-17
An issue was discovered in Xorux Lpar2RRD 6.11 and Stor2RRD 2.61, as distributed in Xorux 2.41. They do not correctly verify the integrity of an upgrade package before processing it. As a result, official upgrade packages can be modified to inject an arbitrary Bash script that will be executed by th...
CVE-2019-19012
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-17
An integer overflow in the search_in_range function in regexec.c in Oniguruma 6.x before 6.9.4_rc2 leads to an out-of-bounds read, in which the offset of this read is under the control of an attacker. (This only affects the 32-bit compiled version). Remote attackers can cause a denial-of-service or ...
CVE-2019-19022
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-17
iTerm2 through 3.3.6 has potentially insufficient documentation about the presence of search history in com.googlecode.iterm2.plist, which might allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive information, as demonstrated by searching for the NoSyncSearchHistory string in .plist files within public Git r...
CVE-2019-19035
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-17
jhead 3.03 is affected by: heap-based buffer over-read. The impact is: Denial of service. The component is: ReadJpegSections and process_SOFn in jpgfile.c. The attack vector is: Open a specially crafted JPEG file.