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Subject: RE: [saml-dev] SAML and Siteminder question

Hi, another question in Siteminder context is how we can add new
properties to the SAML2.0 metadata.


-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew S. Townley [mailto:andrew.townley@bearingpoint.com]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 10:20 PM
To: nathan.given.lists@gmail.com
Cc: saml-dev@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [saml-dev] SAML and Siteminder question

Hi Nathan,

I think that talking to the IT people again is the better approach.
>From my experience with SiteMinder 5.5 and 6.0, you have the following
options (some of the stuff below is more SiteMinder and less relevant to
strictly SAML discussions):

1) As Darren said, if your university already has the Netegrity/eTrust
Federated Web Services installed (part of the Policy Server Option Pack)
and has configured it accordingly, you might be able to leverage it.  If
your university has a license for something called the SAML Affiliate
Agent (this is a site license, so it shouldn't cost you anything), you
can configure it as part of the solution to do the hard work and parse
the SAML assertions for you.  You then only need to pick up the HTTP
headers containing the user entitlement information you need to
authenticate people for your application.

The problem here is that the affiliate and your application should
really be on the same physical network so that you don't open up your
site to potential security vulnerabilities through header spoofing.
However, this is by far the easiest solution (providing the university
has the license for the Affiliate Agent; the Option Pack/Federated Web
Services (FWS) is freely available if you already have a policy server

2) Again, if the FWS is available, but not the affiliate, you can
implement a SAML consumer as Darren mentioned.  SiteMinder supports
identity federation without using the affiliate agent, but you need to
write the SAML consumer part.

Both 1&2 require the same amount of configuration on the Policy Server
side of things (the SiteMinder admin people are responsible for this

I'm not quite sure which Netegrity agent you're talking about, but as
for decrypting the cookie yourself, you'll still need an appropriate
license (or good cracking skills).  Netegrity provide both C and Java
SDKs which can be used to decrypt the cookies and assert the identity
however you want (this is how the application server agents work, for
example), but something will have to bridge your ColdFusion and the
C/Java code.  Also, just to note that the encryption of the
SMSESSION/SMIDENTITY cookies are based on rotating keys, so if you do
manage to do it without Netegrity, you'll still have to manage to keep
up with the key rotation.

A final option, if you can somehow get your application hosted within
their datacenter, is to allow the SiteMinder agent to build headers with
the user's identity (providing this is all you need, anyway).  You pick
up the header in your app, and you're in business.  SiteMinder traps all
of the authentication requests normally--you don't have to do anything.
However, this has the same potential security implications as the
affiliate agent, and it requires customization of the SiteMinder
policies by the SM administrators.

If none of these options work, I'm not sure what else you can do except
shell out the dosh.

Hope this helps,


On Fri, 2005-09-09 at 17:21, Nathan Given wrote:
>         If you are using siteminder the only way to decrypt their
>         cookie is either through their agent or some API call.
>         ColdFusion is a different web/app server and won't know how to
>         do anything with that cookie.  Your application will always
>         present the user a login page unless your CF server has either
>         an agent or makes an API call to decrypt the cookie.  I use a
>         'similar product' and the cookie created by siteminder will be
>         decrypted by their proprietary decryption algorithm -- which I
>         don't think is available as open source.
> Okay, so, where can I read about making an API call to siteminder to
> decrypt the cookie?  If I can use java, I *should* be able to
> integrate into coldfusion.
> Also, what is the 'similar product'?  If it isn't too expensive,
> perhaps I can make a case for purchasing it.
> Thanks!
> --
> Nathan

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