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Senior Editor

A look at SAML

Apr 30, 20031 min
Enterprise ApplicationsProgramming Languages

* Security Assertions Markup Language

Creating single sign-on capabilities for portals or business applications and Web sites has kind of been the search for the Holy Grail. 

But there is a technology making the standards development rounds that could be what many network executives are looking for.

The Security Assertions Markup Language or SAML is an XML-based protocol that supports real-time authentication and authorization across federated Web services environments. The standard defines request and response messages that security domains use to exchange authentication, attribute and authorization information in the form of trust-assertion messages about named users and resources.

Basically, users log on to their home domains through authentication techniques such as ID/password or Kerberos, and this authentication is communicated to a federated destination site through a SAML authentication assertion.

Experts say SAML will ultimately make it easier for users to cross security boundaries, especially those between companies that have established trust relationships. Combined with another emerging standard for digital signatures called XML Signatures, companies can exchange signed SAML assertions that confirm a particular user is authenticated and authorized to access certain network services.

For more on SAML, see out Technology Update: