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Subject: Re: [wsrp] Dealing with unauthenticated users

Again, sorry for the confusion using the word authorization when I meant authentication.  Anyway, why isn't it valid in scenario 2 for the consumer to send a user identity even though the consumer hasn't authenticated the user -- userAuth = none?  I believe it is both valid and useful -- hence a consumer won't act like (1) -- it will send a valid userContextKey.

Alejandro Abdelnur wrote:
I would echo Subbu here,

WSRP1.0/Page 27, "• userAuthentication: String indicating how the End-User was authenticated."

RuntimeContext.userAuthentication indicates the form of 'authentication' the user has used with the consumer. It has nothing to do with 'authorization', that normally handled by the roles the user has.

So there are three possibilities here:

1* The user has authenticated with the consumer


2* The user has authenticated with the consumer but the consumer has chosen not pass the information to the producer


3* The user has authenticated with the consumer and the consumer indicates the mechanism used for this authentication


If you are mapping userCategories to JSR168 roles then you have to keep the following in mind: if the user is not authenticated the user can not have roles. Servlet/EJB/Portlet specifications do not allow roles if the user is not authenticated. And the behavior for the three possibilities would be:

On #1:
userContextKey and userCategories are null.

On #2:
If the consumer is hiding the fact the user is authenticated from the producer. So for the producer it would be identical as case #1.

On #3:
userContextKey as a consumer defined value
userCategories may have values

If you are not mapping userCategories to JSR168 roles then the identity and roles of the user would be passed through extensions, but you could still indicated the authentication type in RuntimeContext.userAuthentication element.

And, going to your specific concern, you could use a a 'com:oracle:auth:weak' string to signal weak authentication, then you could pass userCategories (and map them to roles in the JSR168 implementation).


For the first one userCategories wouldd

On Wednesday, July 16, 2003, at 11:26 AM, Michael Freedman wrote:

Unfortunately, RuntimeContext.userAuthentication=wsrp:none isn't good enough.  It doesn't mean that the user identity is undetermined.  If merely means the user wasn't authorized.  Some consumer may prefer to implement a form of "weak" authorization whereby they use a client cookie to infer who the user is prior to a formal login to present a [partially] customized page.  Weak authorization is represented by sending a UserContext with the userId and a RuntimeContext.userAuthentication=wsrp:none.  Hence we still have the issue I raised concerning recoginizing the difference between I don't know this users identity  but want to pass user categories that apply to unrecognized users vs. a real user identity.

Andre Kramer wrote:

We have RuntimeContext.userAuthentication == wsrp:none to say the user identity is undetermined by a consumer.
Portlets can also use UserProfile info for users. If none is supplied, the producer should not make any inference on user identity.
So I would prefer a real user context key and see no need on agreeing a common value, but had asked for a "portlet is being shared" flag to signal that a portlet is being multiplexed. Maybe this expand to cover other common use cases in 2.0 such as "consumer is hiding end user identity for privacy reasons"?

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Freedman [mailto:Michael.Freedman@oracle.com]
Sent: 15 July 2003 21:44
To: wsrp@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [wsrp] Dealing with unauthenticated users

The wsrp list it is ...
I would like to avoid diving into the whole security discussion again ... that is why at the end I tried [poorly] to distill the question down to how can a consumer indicate that it provides user categories for interactions where it doesn't know the identity of the user?  Or put another way, how does the consumer provide information to the producer so it can decide the consumers intent on how an anonymous user can control the preferences of the entity?  I don't think the consumer should manufacture [on its own] a dummy user context key for this.  Rather it should have the ability to clearly communicate this circumstance -- however, given where we are in the specification process however we have to look for ways of working within the structure we have -- hence I focus on defining a consistent representation of this dummy user context key so this particular situation can/will be represented in an interoperable way.  I suggested "" to avoid collisions with any name the consumer might consider valid in its environment.  

Rich Thompson wrote:

How about we just carry this thread on the wsrp list rather than many people getting duplicate emails?

I think there are some significant issues with interpreting application data items as supplying security information rather than actually using whatever might be available from security subsystems. While on the surface your suggestion might appear reasonable, how does it play out against the standard man-in-the-middle attack mode that security people work hard to stop?

Rich Thompson


I have cc'd this e-mail to the entier list because I think folks might
be interested in general -- I apologize up front if this is something
you don't want to see.

We have discussed that though the specification doesn't define the
UserContext [userContextKey and userCategories] as carrying security
information, we expect some producers to use this application level
information to satisfy its needs.  Currently, the userContextKey is a
required field.  Hence the current way a consumer indicates it doesn't
know the users identity is by passing a null userContext.  This however
prevents the consumer from defining/mapping user categories to
unauthenticated/unknown users.  However consumers often represent this
class of user just so some control can be defined on this class.  For
example, control as represented by wsrp:minimal user category.  

So the questions is, do we want to support defining/using user
categories on public/guest users?  If so, how do we deal with the
producer/JSR 168 interoperability problem wherein the producer uses the
userContext/userContextKey field to establish whether its communicating
with an authenticated user [through its trust relationship with the
consumer]?  Wouldn't we need to define a special token value for
userContextKey that all producers could safely use to mean the
application hasn't established the identity of the user but oh by the
way here are the user categories that relate to anyonymous users?  I
would suggest we use the convention that an empty string "" as the
userContextKey indicates such a user.  What do others think?

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