Welcome!

Industrial IoT Authors: William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Stackify Blog, Yeshim Deniz, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT: Article

Flexible Identity Federation XML Gateways to The Rescue

Imagine a fresh business relationship between ACME Corporation and Partner

Again, supposing that ACME is deploying more and more Web services, each of these Web services may have its own trust requirement. Some may be for internal use only, some may allow for Partner to consume, others for Partner B, and other Web services may authorize a combination of partners depending on the operation being invoked.

Using an XML gateway to manage and enforce the different Web services security requirements not only allows for flexibility of trust over time, but also provides a centralized policy enforcement point that enables a global view of security across the enterprise. Perhaps one of the mandates of the security manager is to ensure consistency of the security policies across all Web services exposed outside of the enterprise. If an XML gateway becomes the central entry point for all services, this becomes a lot easier to manage.

Securing the Last Mile
A concern that often arises when trust and authentication are delegated to an XML gateway is that it does not address the security between the gateway and the Web service itself. Some may argue that the added flexibility comes at the expense of end-to-end security. Although this is a valid concern that warrants close attention, securing the last mile between an XML gateway and a Web service is fairly straightforward. In fact, the ideal situation is one where security is dynamic up to the XML gateway (to reflect ever-changing security requirements), and static from the XML gateway down to the Web service (to minimize the Web service's maintenance). The following constitute a number of strategies to that effect.

A typical motivation for introducing an XML gateway in front of a Web service is to avoid the complexities of coding message-level security as part of the Web service. For this reason, transport-level security can be the solution of choice for securing the last mile. Presuming the Web service is being deployed over HTTP, transport-level security is well supported by most containers. The HTTP container is configured to only accepts requests through SSL (with client certificate), and to only accept the client certificate of the XML gateway. The administrator of the XML gateway simply configures the policy so that messages are routed over SSL using the gateway certificate as part of the SSL handshake. This provides confidentiality (transport-level encryption), as well as authorization (the Web service container requires proof of possession of the gateway's private key). Similarly, the XML gateway is configured to trust the SSL certificate of the Web service's container.

A static security solution for the last mile that involves message-level security could be as simple as instructing the XML gateway to sign and encrypt all messages before routing to the endpoint. The Web service would only accept messages signed by the XML gateway, and the gateway would only accept responses signed by the endpoint service.

Although it typically poses administrative issues, it sometimes is possible to simply isolate the Web service from a network perspective so that the only way in is through the XML gateway. I would not recommend relying on this alone to secure the last mile, but this can be used in conjunction with other strategies.

Federation of Security Beyond the Textbook Scenario
Standards such as SAML and WS-Trust enable message-level solutions to federated-identity problems that arise when Web services span across multiple identity domains. By delegating these security aspects of a Web service to a manageable policy enforcement point, companies minimize the risk and the cost inherent to software maintenance. Further, this empowers the security administrator by providing enterprise-wide control of security policies.

The ACME/Partner scenario described here is simple and perhaps even cliché. However, SAML-based security tokens may very well add value to your application even if your application does not cross multiple corporate boundaries.

Web services promise to connect different computing environments and applications written in different languages. This heterogeneity by nature makes it difficult to find acceptable common security denominators. In transactions where multiple Web services are involved, SAML security tokens enable single sign-on (SSO) scenarios that remove the annoyance of having each transactional point implementing its own authentication. XML gateways can further connect disparate systems by bridging traditional Web and Web service SSO technologies (think "transport level to message level" and vice versa).

In the same way that SAML authentication statements facilitate SSO in Web services, SAML Authorization Decisions Statements can be carried alongside SOAP messages through multiple transaction points, thus relieving each Web service from having to manage its own authorization rules.

More Stories By Francois Lascelles

As Layer 7’s Chief Architect, Francois Lascelles guides the solutions architecture team and aligns product evolution with field trends. Francois joined Layer 7 in the company’s infancy – contributing as the first developer and designing the foundation of Layer 7’s Gateway technology. Now in a field-facing role, Francois helps enterprise architects apply the latest standards and patterns. Francois is a regular blogger and speaker and is also co-author of Service-Oriented Infrastructure: On-Premise and in the Cloud, published by Prentice Hall. Francois holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and a black belt in OAuth. Follow Francois on Twitter: @flascelles

Comments (3)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...