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Subject: RE: [id-cloud] Groups - SAML and XACML analysis by NIST

Hi all – Just came across this analysis and want to share it with you - relating to our gap analysis – exactly as I had pointed out before: that we need security specifications in the SACML protocol itself (and the likes such as SAML, we-trust, etc.) so that XAMCL does not have to rely solely on the security mechanism of the transport layer.






Access Control. SAML alone is not sufficient to provide cloud-based identity and access management services. The capability to adapt cloud consumer privileges and maintain control over access to resources is also needed. As part of identity management, standards like the eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) can be used by a cloud provider to control access to cloud resources, in lieu of some proprietary means. The XACML standard defines an XML-based language for stating policy and forming access control decisions. XACML focuses on the mechanism for arriving at authorization decisions, which complements SAML’s focus on the means for transferring authentication and authorization decisions between cooperating entities.

XACML is capable of controlling the proprietary service interfaces of most providers, and some cloud providers already have it in place. The basic XACML usage model assumes that when a resource access is attempted, a Policy Enforcement Point (PEP), responsible for protecting access to resources, sends a request containing a description of the attempted access to a Policy Decision Point (PDP) for evaluation against available policies and attributes. The PDP evaluates this request and returns an authorization decision for the PEP to enforce. XACML does not define protocols or transport mechanisms or specify how user credentials are validated. Messages transmitted between XACML entities are susceptible to attack by malicious third parties, including unauthorized disclosure, replay, deletion and modification attacks, unless sufficient safeguards are in place to protect transactions [Kel05].




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