All modern businesses are tasked with safeguarding their employees, customers and partners’ identity information. Due to the level of privacy required to store such databases, these parties require comprehensive infrastructure. Using centralised systems is not possible in such cases, and this is where federated authentication comes in. With federated identity systems, multiple, separately managed identity systems are brought together for mutual authorisation and authentication tasks, as well as sharing identity attributes.
This way, users are presented with a way for a single identity that can be used across diverse services and systems. Although this may sound simple, it is actually more complicated than it seems, with the most complex part being the science behind the whole process. The biggest challenge lies in managing the processes, as well as business relationships to make sure that federation remains secure, reliable and provides all the necessary privacy and protection to users.
The Power of Identity Management
With ever-changing technologies, many businesses are being carried out remotely. Think of companies that hire virtual assistants who work from their homes. Such employees are similar to those who come to the office every day and need their private information to be protected too. Businesses are also getting carried out remotely online. Thus, there is a need for enterprise services to be availed to remote employees. One thing to keep in mind is that all these mobility strategies have to conform to the business goals.
With mobility comes multiple identity-related problems that can easily be solved by the use of distributed identities. This means a secure exchange of information in terms of identity among many trusted domains. It allows users to have a single set of login credentials that they can use to access different applications.
Sometimes, privacy gets compromised in IT projects. However, with federation, you cannot ignore it. The reason is that many federations comprise more than just authentication. The user might be surrendering personal data to the federation partner, and this includes birth date, Social Security number and credit card information as per the application requirements.
Mostly, the use of such data is controlled by certain regulations. In cases where companies have an agreement with their customers to protect their data in certain ways, federation requires that their partners also offer the same protection mechanisms.
With any federated scheme, a key element is revocation of identity credentials. They have a system that verifies any challenges related to identity credentials and can either suspend or revoke them upon expiry or whenever they seem suspicious.
The sole purpose of the federation is to enable distributed identity and decentralised systems to operate in a manner that allows all the required features to support any modern business practices. To make federated identity work in your business, you are required to pay attention to protocol and policy.
It is prudent to choose wisely the federation standards to use. You then proceed to record your choices in an interoperability framework (IF) policy. This is usually a list that explains what the organisation has chosen by categorising standards, including the standards to be sustained but not to be used in new deployments.
The use of professionally implemented federation authentication solutions results in many benefits, including providing security, improving user experience and enhancing the efficiency of the business.