Archive for the 'Pamela Project' Category

June 24, 2008
A Personal Perspective on the Information Card Foundation Launch

Information Card Foundation banner

In May 2005, when I wrote the whitepaper “Microsoft’s Vision for an Identity Metasystem”, these sentences were aspirational:

Microsoft’s implementation will be fully interoperable via WS-* protocols with other identity selector implementations, with other relying party implementations, and with other identity provider implementations.

Non-Microsoft applications will have the same ability to use "InfoCard" to manage their identities as Microsoft applications will. Non-Windows operating systems will be able to be full participants of the identity metasystem we are building in cooperation with the industry. Others can build an entire end-to-end implementation of the metasystem without any Microsoft software, payments to Microsoft, or usage of any Microsoft online identity service.

Now they are present-day reality.

This didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy. Indeed, despite it being hard, the identity industry saw it as vitally important, and made it happen through concerted, cooperative effort. Key steps along the way included the Laws of Identity, the Berkman Center Identity Workshops in 2005 and 2006, the Internet Identity Workshops, the establishment of OSIS, the formation of the Higgins, Bandit, OpenSSO, xmldap, and Pamela projects, publication of the Identity Selector Interoperability Profile, the Open Specification Promise, the OSIS user-centric identity interops (I1 rehearsal, I1, I2, I3, and the current I4), the OpenID anti-phishing collaboration, the Information Card icon, and of course numerous software releases by individuals and companies for all major development platforms, including releases by Sun, CA, and IBM.

Of course, despite all the groundwork that’s been laid and the cooperation that’s been established, the fun is really just beginning. What most excites me about the group of companies that have come together around Information Cards is that many of them are potential deployers of Information Cards, rather than just being producers of the underlying software.

The Internet is still missing a much-needed ubiquitous identity layer. The good news is that the broad industry collaboration that has emerged around Information Cards and the visual Information Card metaphor is a key enabler for building it, together in partnership with other key technologies and organizations.

The members of the Information Card Foundation (and many others also working with us) share this vision from the conclusion of the whitepaper:

We believe that many of the dangers, complications, annoyances, and uncertainties of today’s online experiences can be a thing of the past. Widespread deployment of the identity metasystem has the potential to solve many of these problems, benefiting everyone and accelerating the long-term growth of connectivity by making the online world safer, more trustworthy, and easier to use.

In that spirit, please join me in welcoming all of these companies and individuals to the Information Card Foundation: founding corporate board members Equifax, Google, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and PayPal; founding individual board members Kim Cameron, Pamela Dingle, Patrick Harding, Andrew Hodgkinson, Ben Laurie, Axel Nennker, Drummond Reed, Mary Ruddy, and Paul Trevithick; launch members Arcot Systems, Aristotle, A.T.E. Software,, CORISECIO, FuGen Solutions, Fun Communications, Gemalto, IDology, IPcommerce, ooTao, Parity Communications, Ping Identity, Privo, Wave Systems, and WSO2; associate members Fraunhofer Institute and Liberty Alliance; individual members Daniel Bartholomew and Sid Sidner.

May 4, 2008
The Certificate Odyssey

I was just reading Ryan Janssen’s post Becoming an RP with the Pamela Project (pt. 1) and when I got to the end where he wrote “Since it’s going to take a few hours to get my SSL cert issued and installed, I think I’ll post this and go outside for a break!” it reminded me of the certificate odyssey I went through in April last year. After eventually getting the certificate created and installed, I wrote this about it at the time to Stuart Kwan (hip Internet terminologist):

Getting and installing the certificate was an unbelievable odyssey. It was an *incredibly complicated* process, that in my case, involved many visits to Network Solutions’ and GoDaddy’s support sites, several hours of my afternoon on Saturday, using cryptic openssl commands on Linux to create a key pair and a cert signing request (and later to strip the password off the key pair so Apache would start without the password), lots of help on IM from Pam Dingle, and the creation or use of 6 different passwords. Oh, and the cert wasn’t even installed by that point!

And it would have been *so easy* to get any of the steps wrong and have a cert request that was incorrect or to obtain a cert that didn’t do what I wanted it to. I understand the value that certificates provide (and it’s substantial). But we, as an industry, haven’t exactly made it easy for people to obtain and use them…

I’m tempted to blog about that, but I won’t… :-)

But seeing that Ryan is about to go through the same odyssey, I’ve reconsidered, hence this post. I’m now eagerly awaiting part two of his description to see how his experience compares to mine.

Of course, now that CardSpace and other identity selectors have support for no-SSL sites, hopefully this will be an optional odyssey soon – employed only when the security benefits of SSL certificates are called for. I know that Pamela plans to add no-SSL support to PamelaWare for WordPress soon, so after that, the pain that I went through and that Ryan’s in the midst of during a beautiful sunny day on the Lower East Side can be a thing of the past.

April 1, 2008
User-Centric Identity Interop at RSA in San Francisco

33 Companies…
24 Projects…
57 Participants working together to build an interoperable user-centric identity layer for the Internet!

Come join us!

Tuesday and Wednesday, April 8 and 9 at RSA 2008, Moscone Center, San Francisco, California
Location: Mezzanine Level Room 220
Interactive Working Sessions: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11am – 4pm
Demonstrations: Tuesday and Wednesday, 4pm – 6pm
Reception: Wednesday, 4pm – 6pm

Logos of RSA 2008 Interop Participants

March 30, 2008
The History of Tomorrow’s Internet

Ryan JanssenI recently encountered Ryan Janssen’s insightful series entitled “The History of Tomorrow’s Internet” and immediately read the whole thing in one sitting. Among other gems, I found in it the clearest explanation of the value and promise of XRI/XDI that I’ve ever read. Great stuff!

The most recent installment detailed his experiences of “how it feels for a regular person to use Cardspace”. In particular, he documented his experience of using CardSpace for the first time to leave a comment on this blog. He introduced his narrative with:

… as someone who’s business it is to build great software, I KNOW how hard good UI is. Believe me, I work with a GREAT product team and we try REALLY hard to make intuitive software and we fail EVERY day. Having said that, this post isn’t going to paint a real pretty picture.

I’ll let each of you read his blow-by-blow narrative yourself. He closes with:

So what’s the final analysis? Well, as I stated in the beginning, the purpose of this post isn’t to bash Microsoft or Cardspace. Like I said, I build software and when I actually see a normal person use it for the first time, I’m inevitably embarrassed at how difficult it is. Software is hard and Cardspace is brand new. Nonetheless, this does show how far the technology has to go before Mom and Dad are going to be using it. Usernames and Passwords are UBIQUITOUS. We’ve been trained on the visual metaphors for at least a decade. Replacing that with ANY other paradigm is going to rough. To have any chance of success, the Cardspace workflow will need to be much improved.

Because I’m a member of the CardSpace team, I can say that as much as the team is understandably proud of what they accomplished in V1, they’re also pragmatic realists who are fully aware of the issues that Ryan documents so well and the vital importance of addressing them in our future releases. It’s exciting participating in that very process on the fifth floor of Microsoft building 40, day in, day out, as the team defines and refines what the next release will contain. Greatly improved usability is certainly one of our highest-priority goals.

I know that Ryan has also motivated Pamela and me to take a look at how the flow on the blog can be improved. PamelaWare for WordPress isn’t even yet a V1 release (it’s at v0.9 currently) and I know Pamela has lots of ideas on how to improve it. Ryan’s experiences will certainly help inform the next release.

Also, I’ll remark on these excellent observations:

Ready to post? Not yet. Since my iCard is self-issued, Mike’s site (yes, the site is called ironically enough) doesn’t trust me and has now decided that I need to verify my email address. This is obviously a little annoying, but it brings up a good use-case for the first Claim Provider–one that has verified my email address, home address, and phone numbers, so I NEVER have to respond to an email or text message like this again.

Asking the user to verify his or her e-mail address is a way of obtaining a backup means of authentication that can be used in the case where user has lost his Information Card. Just like many accounts backed by passwords use e-mail in the “lost password” flow, PamelaWare uses e-mail to the user in the “lost card” flow and verifies ownership of the e-mail address at account creation time. Ryan correctly points out that if I had received a verified e-mail address as a claim there’s several steps we could have skipped. Making this scenario a reality is one of my personal goals for the Identity Layer we’re all building together.

There’s nothing like real user data to inform what needs to happen next. Thanks, Ryan, for taking the time to provide it to all of us. I look forward to reading the next installment of the series!

October 24, 2007
User-Centric Identity Interop at Catalyst in Barcelona

Logos of Barcelona Interop Participants 2007

Last night OSIS and the Burton Group held the third in a series of user-centric identity Interop events where companies and projects building user-centric identity software components came together and tested the interoperation of their software together. Following on the Interops at IIW in May and Catalyst in June, the participants continued their joint work of ensuring that the identity software we’re all building works great together.

This Interop had a broader scope along several dimensions than the previous ones:

An excerpt from Bob Blakley’s insightful-as-always commentary on the Interop is:

The participants have posted their results on the wiki, and a few words are in order about these results. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are a significant number of “failure” and “issue” results. This is very good news for two reasons.

The first reason it’s good news is that it means enough new test cases were designed for this interop to uncover new problems. What you don’t see in the matrix is that when testing began, there were even more failures – which means that a lot of the new issues identified during the exercise have already been fixed.

The second reason the “failure” and “issue” results are good news is that they’re outnumbered by the successes. When you consider that the things tested in Barcelona were all identified as problems at the previous interop, you’ll get an idea of how much work has been done by the OSIS community in only 4 months to improve interoperability and agree on standards of component behavior.

Be sure to read his full post for more details on what the participants accomplished together. And of course, this isn’t the end of the story. An even wider and deeper Interop event is planned for the RSA Conference in April 2008. Great progress on building the Internet identity layer together!

August 2, 2007
User-Centric Identity Interop at Catalyst

OSIS Logos

I’ve been waiting to write about the user-centric identity interop at the Burton Group Catalyst conference until the Burton Group report about the event was published. Now it’s here!

At the interop we demonstrated interoperability between 7 Identity Selectors, 11 Identity Providers, and 25 Relying Parties. As Bob Blakley wrote:

The interop event was a milestone in the maturation of user-centric identity technology. Prior to the event, there were some specifications, one commercial product, and a number of open-source projects. After the event, it can accurately be said that there is a running identity metasystem.

The full report includes a list of participants and the software they brought to the table, an overview of the results achieved, as well as the issues identified through the interop. See Bob’s post for all the details!

The report also includes thank-yous, to which I’d like to make some additions: Thanks are due to Jamie Lewis, Gerry Gebel, and Bob Blakley of the Burton Group for sharing our vision for this interop, striving to make it the best that it could be, and tirelessly working the details until it came true. You truly helped the industry to come together in a valuable and significant way.

Also, while I appreciate Bob’s thanks for the work I put into the Open Specification Promise, there were many believers in and drivers of this important work at Microsoft besides myself, both from the Law and Corporate Affairs team and from the Federated Identity product group. This was truly a team effort.

I’m also happy to report that there will be a follow-on interop in Europe at the Catalyst conference in Barcelona, October 22-25, which will hopefully include even more participants and scenarios, including more multi-protocol interoperation proof points. Hope to see you there!

May 25, 2007
Hands-On Information Card Interop at IIW

On Tuesday afternoon at IIW representatives from numerous Information Card projects sat down at the same table (actually, 3 tables so we would all fit :-) ) and systematically used our implementations together, exercising the different possible combinations. The session notes, as posted on the OSIS wiki, tell the story:

Notes from IIW 2007a

The OSIS group sponsored an Information Card interoperability connect-a-thon on May 15, 2007 as part of the Internet Identity Workshop 2007 A in Mountain View California. Participants collaborated to work through combinations of Identity Provider, Identity Agent, and Relying Party scenarios, in order to identify and workshop problems with interoperability. The following representatives were present and participated:

5 Information Card Selectors

  • Ian Brown’s Safari Plugin
  • Windows Cardspace
  • Higgins IdA Native
  • Higgins IdA Java

11 Relying Parties

  • Bandit (basic wiki authentcation)
  • Bandit (elevated privileges)
  • PamelaWare
  • CA
  • Windows Live RP (used to obtain a managed card)
  • Windows Live/single-issuer (where you can use the managed card)
  • Oracle RP
  • Identityblog RP (based on Rob Richards’ library)
  • Identityblog helloworld token RP
  • UW/Shibboleth

7 Identity Providers

  • Higgins
  • Bandit
  • UW/Shibboleth
  • LiveLabs
  • HumanPresent
  • Identityblog HelloWorld IdP

4 Token Types

  • SAML 1.0
  • SAML 1.1
  • helloworld
  • username token

2 Authentication Mechanisms

  • username/password
  • self-issued (personal) card

Many combinations interoperated as expected; several issues were identified and are being fixed in preparation for the coming Information Card Interop event to be held at the Burton Group Catalyst Conference in San Francisco (June 25-29).

One of the things I love about IIW is that it’s a working meeting — not a series of mind-numbing presentations. This interop was a great example of the industry coming together and doing work together. And of course, this session was a dry run for the upcoming User-Centric Identity Interop event coming at Catalyst next month, where even more projects will be represented. Hope to see many of you there!

April 3, 2007

Welcome to Mike Jones’ blog for digital identity discussions. I hope you’ll find the content here useful, thought-provoking, and sometimes just plain fun.

There’s lots of information about me at my web site so I won’t repeat it here.

Thanks to the PamelaWare plug-in for WordPress, you can use your Information Cards here (both managed and self-issued… ;-) ).

Let the conversation begin…

April 1, 2007
Thanks Pamela!

I really appreciate all the help you’ve given me getting the blog set up. PamelaWare rocks!