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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SAML: The Master Key?

Imagine a day when instead of setting up an account with each
organization you do business with, you set up a single account, which
all the parties can consult. Such a setup could be useful for federal
agencies for a number of reasons. For one, federal employees often
need to access systems and data held by agencies other than their own.
For another, e-government initiatives involve people who often hold
no government-recognized credentials. How does the government
authenticate their identities? The General Services Administration's
E-Authentication Identity Federation initiative can meet these needs,
said David Temoshok, director of identity policy and management at
GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. The program is a central hub
for facilitating interactions among different organizations. And one
of the ways E-Authentication can offer this service is through an
emerging Extensible Markup Language-based standard, called the Security
Assertion Markup Language (SAML), which was first developed by OASIS
and later adopted by the Liberty Alliance as the backbone for its
efforts to offer tools for federated network identity... Through the
Liberty Alliance, GSA also maintains a list of SAML-based products
that are interoperable. Like the common terminology, this streamlines
the process of setting up an authenticating relationship with another
party. In September [2007], GSA mandated that all products undergoing
SAML interoperability testing be certified to be interoperable with
Version 2.0 of SAML.

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