Friday, 7 October 2011

Federated Identity Workshop Coming up...

This is a plug for a workshop on Federated Identity Management for Scientific Collaborations coming at RAL 2-3 November:

It's a follows the first of it's kind held earlier this year held at CERN and brought together experts in the field and representatives from a range of different scientific communities to present the state of play for federated identity management in each of the various fields and draw together a roadmap for future development.   See the minutes for a full account.

Picking out just a few themes that were of interest to me: inter-federation trust came up a number of times and the need for services to translate credentials from one domain to another.  I read that as a healthy sign that a) various federated identity management systems have bed down and become established and b), that there is not a fight of competing security technologies for one to take over all, rather a facing up to realities of how can we make it work so that these co-exist along side each other.

Credential translation brings in another two interesting issues: provenance and levels of assurance that actually also arose independently in some of the talks and discussions.  If I have a credential that is as a result of a translation of another credential from a different domain how much information is transferred between the two, is it lossy are the identity concepts and various attributes semantically the same?   The same issues arise perhaps to a lesser degree with delegation technologies. 

Levels of assurance is another issue that is surely going to crop up more and more as different authentication mechanisms are mixed together in systems: the same user can enter a federated system with different methods how do we ensure that they are assigned access rights accordingly.   Some complicated issues to tackle but the fact that they can begin to be addressed shows the progress that has been made building on the foundations of established federated systems.

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