Towards Kerberizing Web Identity and Services

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Today authentication and authorization are addressed in an incoherent, and often site-specific, fashion on the Internet and the Web specifically. This situation stems from many factors including the evolution, design, implementation, and deployment history of HTTP and HTTP-based systems in particular, and Internet protocols in general.

Kerberos is a widely-implemented and widely-deployed authentication substrate with a long history in various communities and vendor products. Organizations that currently use Kerberos as a key element of their infrastructure wish to take advantage of its unique benefits while moving to Web-based systems, but have had limited success in doing so.

The authors of this paper have drawn upon their combined experience with supporting large Kerberos deployments, writing and developing web-based identity protocols, and integrating heterogeneous authentication services in order to produce this paper. Thus the views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the MIT Kerberos Consortium or its members.

In this paper we outline the evolution of Web Identity and Services and describe the issues surrounding this complex landscape. These issues are captured within a set of more specific requirements that are deemed necessary to satisfy the relevant stakeholders; these requirements are then framed within the context of some general use cases. We then propose and describe a number of activities that leverage Kerberos to realize these improvements, and present an overall strategy and architectural model for working towards a more cohesive and widely deployed Kerberos-based Web authentication infrastructure.

Download the paper in PDF format here.