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Saturday, September 13, 2008
« Attending Digital ID World 2008 | Main | Information Disclosure Threats and Web S... »

Digital ID World 2008 is the first IdM conference that I've gone to as part of a team, and given the variety of breakout sessions we decided early on to use the divide and conquer approach based on our areas of interest and expertise.

The following are some highlights on some (not all) of the sessions that I attended and found to be interesting. As with a lot of conferences, there were some sessions that were pretty much disguised vendor pitches which I am not even going to bother with a mention.

Keynote - Identity Assurance: A Backbone For The Identity Marketplace
by Peter Alterman - GSA, Andrew Nash - PayPal, Frank Villavicencio - Citigroup

In some ways this was rehash of the panel on the same topic that was moderated by Mark Diodati at Burton Catalyst but with the addition of Peter Alterman of the GSA, who tends to add a certain amount of ...ah... flair to the conversation :-)

The intent of the Liberty Identity Assurance Framework (IAF) is to develop a framework that leverages the existing work that has been done by EAP, tScheme, US e-Auth etc. to generate an identity assurance standard that is technology agnostic but provides a consistent way of of defining identity credential policy and the process and policy rule set etc.  The IAF consists of four parts (1) Assurance Levels (2) Assessment Criteria (3) Accreditation and Certification Model and (4) Business Rules. You can find out more about it on the IAF Section of the Liberty Alliance Web Site.

What interested me about the entire conversation was the leveraging of OMB M-04-04 and NIST 800-63 to define the assurance criteria but the drive to make a "Liberty Alliance IAF Assurance Token" (if you will) that will be certified to mean the same thing across federations. Mr. Alterman also noted, and I hope that I interpreted this correctly, that the intent from the GSA side would be to not re-invent the wheel but to adopt this IAF framework going forward. He spoke of current inter-federation work he is involved in between NIH and the InCommon Federation that is leveraging this.

During the Q&A session, I brought up the fact that this work is directly focused on AuthN but in general, access to resources is granted based on a variety of factors, only one of which is the strength and assurance of the authentication token. The response is that the Liberty work is deliberately focusing on the AuthN and considers AuthZ to be out-of-scope for their work.

Keynote Presentation: State Of The Industry
by Jamie Lewis - Burton Group

Enterprise IdM is the set of business processes, and a supporting infrastructure, that provides identity-based access control to systems and resources in accordance with established policies.

  • Business trends are driving integration across processes and folks are being asked to do more with less.
  • SaaS is gaining momentum
  • Many failures in IdM projects caused by a lack of doing homework and a belief in the silver bullet product etc.
  • People manage risk, not products.
  • IdM is a means and not an end; It is about enabling capabilities and not an end in itself.
  • The Identity Big Bang is around new ways of working, collaborating and communicating
  • Make every project an installment on the Architecture and scope the goals to around 3 years.
  • Always think about data linking and cleansing

That was the first half of the keynote, but the second half was something I found to be very fascinating and is based on work that Burton has been proposing around the idea of a "Relationship Layer for the Web"

  • AuthN and AuthZ are necessary but not sufficient
  • Centrism of any kind does NOT work
  • Lessons from social science on trust, reciprocity, reputation etc.
  • The future of identity is relationships
  • Difference between close and distant relationships; Able to make many observations in a close relationship, so able to get good identity information. Not so for distant relationships
  • A good relationship provides value to all parties. And it is not just about rights but also obligations
  • Values like privacy etc. require awareness of relationship context
  • Systems fail if they are not "relationship-aware"
  • Difference between Custodial, Contextual and Transactional identities.
    -- Custodial Identity is directly maintained by an org and a person has a direct relationship with the org.
    -- Contextual identity is something you get from another party but there are rules associated with how that identity can be used.
    -- Transactional identity is just the limited amount of info that an RP (?) gets to complete a transaction e.g. Ability to buy alcohol requires a person to be over 18 (?) but in a transactional relationship, you would simply ask the question of "Is this person old enough to buy alcohol?" and the answer would come back as "Yes/No". Compare this to a question of "What is this person's age or birthday?" which releases a lot more info.
  • The last type of identity in effect requires the existence of what Burton Calls an "Identity Oracle" (See Bob Blakley's blog entries) that has a primary and trusted relationship with a user as well as with relying party and can stand behind (from a legal and liability perspective) the transactional identity statements that it makes.

I found this entire topic absolutely fascinating as this is so very relevant to a lot of the work that I do around information sharing across organizations that may or may not trust each other for a variety of (sometimes very valid) reasons. Will be actively tracking this area on an ongoing basis.

The Plot To Kill Identity
by Pamela Dingle - Nulli Secundus

I really enjoyed this session by Pamela on the disconnect that currently exists between the needs of the users, what is being asked of the application vendors and the lack of a common vocabulary to express our needs such that there is a change in the same old way of doing business.

  • Need for an effort to be consistent all the way at the RFP/RFI time
  • Need a common vocabulary when requesting capability from vendors
  • Start with:  Provide and Rely support i.e. the ability to choose whether or not a product relies on external identity services or provides its own.
  • Pamela also had a great starting set of RFI type questions one can use.. I am hoping that she will post them on her blog.

One of the questions I brought up during the Q&A session was that if I bought in to the Kool-Aid of what she discussed during the presentation (and I do), what would it take to scale the conversation to a larger audience? Bob Blakley, who was also in the audience, chimed in and noted that if Pamela wrote up a white-paper on the topic, he would help her get it published and widely distributed as well.

I would also be very interested in expanding the scope of the sample RFI questions to be grouped by product/project category (and released under an open licence; Creative Commons?) so that folks like me can use them in our RFP/RFIs as well.

There were more sessions that I attended that were interesting such as the Concordia Workshop on "Bootstrapping Identity Protocols: A Look At Integrating OpenID, ID-WSF, WS-Trust And SAML", "Using An Identity Capable Platform To Enhance Cardspace Interactions" and more..

All in all, beyond the sessions themselves, the hall-way conversations and the connections made to be as valuable (or even more so) than just the sessions themselves. I know that I found and made connections with multiple folks who work in my community and am very much looking forward to future collaborations with them and others.

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9/13/2008 4:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time  |  Comments [0]  |  Disclaimer  |  Permalink   
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