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Chapter 1. Participant Operational Practices

1. Purpose

This chapter outlines the operational practices from the participant perspective. It provides the metadata about operational practices that each participant must complete for membership; these practices outline how identities are created and maintained at each participant. Answers to these questions enable all participating service providers to make a sound judgment on the level of assurance (LOA) that an authenticated user is truly the correct individual. In addition, the document describes the standards upon which each organization must meet for participation. For consistency with other higher education initiatives, this document draws from its sister document for the InCommon Federation [InCommon_POP].

2. Overview

Participation in the UNC Federation (“Federation”) enables the participant to use Shibboleth identity attribute sharing technologies to manage access to on-line resources available to the UNC community. One goal of the Federation is to develop, over time, community standards for such cooperating organizations to ensure shared attribute assertions are sufficiently robust and trustworthy to manage access to important protected resources. As the community of trust evolves, the Federation expects that participants eventually should be able to trust each other's identity management systems and resource access management systems as they trust their own.

As part of the fundamental expectation of the Federation, each member must provide authoritative and accurate attribute assertions to other participants providing services to this Federation. In turn, the participants receiving these assertions should protect these attributes from public dissemination as well as preserve their privacy by adhering to the constraints placed on them by either the Federation or the originating source of information. Toward this end, each participating member is required to accurately and completely maintain a set of basic information concerning the operational policies governing the provisioning of authoritative identities to its constituents. This information about each member will be available to all other members so that each institution can determine an accurate level of assurance (LOA) for the other member organizations. However, this basic information will not be publicly available.

Two criteria for trustworthy attribute assertions by Credential Providers are: (1) that the identity management system fall under the purview of the organization’s executive or business management, and (2) the system for issuing end-user credentials (e.g. PKI certificates, userids/passwords, Kerberos principals, etc.) specifically have appropriate risk management measures (for example authentication and authorization standards, security practices, risk assessment, change management controls, audit trails, etc.).

All service providers receiving attribute assertions from another organization will respect that organization's policies, rules, and standards regarding the protection and use of that data. Furthermore, such information can only be used in accordance with the purpose for which it was provided and may not be shared with third parties or aggregated for marketing purposes without the explicit permission of the identity information provider.

3. Required Basic Information

The following set of questions must be answered in sufficient detail by each Federation member; this information will be posted on a secured website for the availability of all participating organizations. Each member is required to maintain this information as policies and procedures change within that organization. Consequently, each member will be required to modify and/or certify the validity of the information on an annual basis. Each member will have access to a web-based interface that will enable on-demand modification of this information. This web-based interface will contain the following pieces of information:

  1. Identification Information

    1. Participant identification

      1. Organization's name

      2. Accurate "as of" date

    2. Additional information URL (a link to additional information pertaining to identity management and/or privacy policies regarding the use of personal information)

    3. Executive Contact Information - An individual responsible for answering questions about the participants identity management system or resource access management policy or practice.

      1. Name

      2. Title / Role

      3. Email Address

      4. Phone

      5. Fax

    4. Technical Contact Information - An individual responsible for answering and monitoring day-to-day operations of the identity provider.

      1. Name

      2. Title / Role

      3. Email Address

      4. Phone

      5. Fax

  2. Identity Provider Information - The most critical responsibility that an Identity Provider participant has to the Federation is to provide trustworthy and accurate identity assertions. Each service provider must know how these electronic identity credentials are issued and the reliability of the information associated with a given credential.

    1. Community Membership

      1. Electronic Identity - How do you define the set of people who are eligible to receive an electronic identity?

      2. Member of Community - This is an assertion that might be offered to enable access to resources made available to individuals who participate in the primary mission of the university or organization. For example, this assertion might apply to anyone whose affiliation is “current student, faculty, or staff.”

        What subset of persons registered in your identity management system would you identify as a “Member of Community” in Shibboleth identity assertions to other participants? Please specifically consider individuals who engage in sponsored research when answering this question.

    2. Electronic Identity Credentials

      1. Establishment - Please describe in general terms the administrative process used to establish an electronic identity that results in a record for that person being created in your electronic identity database? Please identify the office(s) of record for this purpose. For example, “Registrar’s Office for students; HR for faculty and staff.” Please specifically consider individuals who engage in sponsored research when answering this question.

      2. Credential Type(s) - What technologies are used for your electronic identity credentials (e.g., Kerberos, userID/password, PKI, etc.) that are relevant to Federation activities? If more than one type of electronic credential is issued, how is it determined who receives which type? If multiple credentials are linked, how is this managed and recorded?

      3. Password - If your electronic identity credentials require the use of a secret password or PIN, the following questions are applicable.

        1. Encryption - Are there circumstances in which that secret would be transmitted across a network without being protected by encryption (i.e., “clear text passwords” are used when accessing campus services), please identify who in your organization can discuss with any other Participant concerns that this might raise for them.

        2. Strength - What policies and rules are in place to ensure passwords relevant to Federation activities are sufficiently strong and effective against guessing and brute force attacks?

        3. Change Frequency - How often are users required to change passwords that are relevant to Federation activities? How are these durations enforced?

      4. Single Sign On - If you support a “single sign-on” (SSO) or similar campus-wide system to allow a single user authentication action to serve multiple applications, and you will make use of this to authenticate people for Federation Service Providers, please describe the key security aspects of your SSO system including whether session timeouts are enforced by the system, whether user-initiated session termination is supported, and how use with “public access sites” is protected.

      5. Uniqueness - Are your primary electronic identifiers for people, such as “net ID,” eduPersonPrincipalName, or eduPersonTargetedID considered to be unique for all time to the individual to whom they are assigned? If not, what is your policy for re-assignment and is there a hiatus between such reuse?

      6. Example Applications - Please identify typical classes of applications for which your electronic identity credentials are used within your own organization.

    3. Electronic Identity Database

      1. Creation & Management - How is information in your electronic identity database acquired and updated? Are specific offices designated by your administration to perform this function? Are individuals allowed to update their own information on-line?

      2. Public Information - What information in this database is considered “public information” and would be provided to any interested party?

    4. Attribute Assertions - Would you consider your attribute assertions to be reliable enough to:

      • Control access to on-line information databases licensed to your organization?

      • Be used to purchase goods or services for your organization?

      • Enable access to personal information such as student loan status?

    5. Privacy Policy - Federation Participants must respect the legal and organizational privacy constraints on attribute information provided by other Participants and use it only for its intended purposes.

      1. Restrictions - What restrictions do you place on the use of attribute information that you might provide to other Federation participants?

      2. Release Policy - What policies govern the use of attribute information that you might release to other Federation participants? For example, is some information subject to FERPA or HIPAA restrictions?

  3. Service Provider Information - Service Providers are trusted to ask for only the information necessary to make an appropriate access control decision, and to not misuse information provided to them by Identity Providers. Service Providers must describe the basis on which access to resources is managed and their practices with respect to attribute information they receive from other Participants.

    1. Required Attributes - What attribute information about an individual do you require in order to manage access to resources you make available to other participants? Describe separately for each resource ProviderID that you have registered.

    2. Attribute Use - What use do you make of attribute information that you receive in addition to basic access control decisions? For example, do you aggregate session access records or records of specific information accessed based on attribute information, or make attribute information available to partner organizations, etc.?

    3. Attribute Masking - What human and technical controls are in place on access to and use of attribute information that might refer to only one specific person (i.e., personally identifiable information)? For example, is this information encrypted?

    4. Super-user Administration - Describe the human and technical controls that are in place on the management of super-user and other privileged accounts that might have the authority to grant access to personally identifiable information?

    5. Breach Procedures - If personally identifiable information is compromised, what actions do you take to notify potentially affected individuals?

  4. Other Information

    1. Technical Standards, Versions and Interoperability - Identify the version of Internet2 Shibboleth code release that you are using or, if not using the standard Shibboleth code, what version(s) of the SAML and SOAP and any other relevant standards you have implemented for this purpose.

    2. Other Considerations - Are there any other considerations or information that you wish to make known to other Federation participants with whom you might inter-operate? For example, are there concerns about the use of clear text passwords or responsibilities in case of a security breach involving identity information you may have provided?