In general terms, identity federation is something we all might have experienced in our lives while working online or in corporates. It is another form of a management system. It relays a user’s credentials and information across several domains in the same forest and active directory. When an identity federation for a user is established amongst domains, the user who is authenticated to one domain can access all the resources which are not only available in this domain but the other domain as well. This method comes under the umbrella topic of Federated Identity Management (FIM).
Before we delve deeper into the concept of identity federation and FIM, we must have basic knowledge of two essential terms:
Identity provided: This tool (IdP) is used to create, manage, store and relay identities for users, which are used to authenticate users to access other domains, applications, or websites.
Service provider: This tool (SP) is the host of the application and web of the domain, which depends on the identity provided by the IdP.
How does the Identity Federation work?
The process of identity federation begins when a user endeavors to access resources from a secondary domain, which uses the user’s identity, projected by the user’s home domain.
First, users need to begin authenticating their home security domain which should be the user’s home network. After this, a user puts in a request to log into another domain through the federation. Now, instead of the user authenticating directly with the second domain( an application in specific), it requests the user’s authentication from the home authentication server. When the home server authenticates the secondary application, the user is allowed to access the same and use its resources.
Identity federation is a part of FIM, as hinted before. some of the most known FIM systems are OAuth and OpenID
- This software is often useful for organizations working together on a particular project, essentially a software, program, or application. Developers authenticate through one enterprise’s network and use identity federation to access resources from another enterprise’s network.
- When working with multiple domains across enterprises, there could be several issues and complexities, such as building a secure transfer of users system. Identity federation can avoid such hassles.