13.1. Using Security Mechanisms

The security mechanism that you need to select reflects the commonly available infrastructure between your organization and another organization with which you will be communicating. The following list provides some common communication issues that need to be addressed using security mechanisms:

  • Asymmetric binding is used for message protection. This binding has two binding specific token properties: the initiator token and the recipient token. If the message pattern requires multiple messages, this binding defines that the initiator token is used for the message signature from initiator to the recipient, and for encryption from recipient to initiator. The recipient token is used for encryption from initiator to recipient, and for the message signature from recipient to initiator.

  • Some organizations have a Kerberos infrastructure, while other organizations have a PKI infrastructure (asymmetric binding). WS-Trust allows two communicating parties having different security infrastructure to communicate securely with one another. In this scenario, the client authenticates with a third party (STS) using its infrastructure. The STS returns a (digitally-signed) SAML token containing authorization and authentication information regarding the client, along with a key. The client then simply relays the token to the server and uses the STS-supplied key to ensure integrity and confidentiality of the messages sent to the server.

    Kerberos is supported in Metro since 1.1 release. Netbeans support is available for Kerberos from Metro 1.3 and Netbeans 6.5 release.

  • Symmetric binding is used for message protection. This binding has two binding specific token properties: encryption token and signature token. If the message pattern requires multiple messages, this binding defines that the encryption token used from initiator to recipient is also used from recipient to initiator. Similarly, the signature token used from initiator to recipient is also used from recipient to initiator.

    In some cases, the client does not have its own certificates. In this case, the client can choose a security mechanism that makes use of symmetric binding and could use a Username token as a signed supporting token for authentication with the server. The symmetric binding in this case serves the purpose of integrity and confidentiality protection.

  • In the absence of a notion of secure session, the client would have to reauthenticate with the server upon every request. In this situation, if the client is sending a Username token, the client will be asked for its username and password on each request, or, if the client is sending a certificate, the validity of the certificate has to be established with every request. This is expensive! Enable Secure Conversation to remove the requirement for re-authentication.

  • The use of the same session key (Secure Conversation) for repeated message exchanges is sometimes considered a risk. To reduce that risk, enable Require Derived Keys.

  • RSA Signatures (signatures with public-private keys) is more expensive than Symmetric Key signatures. Use the Secure Conversation option to enable Symmetric Key signatures.

  • Enabling WSS 1.1 enables an encrypted key generated by the client to be reused by the server in the response to the client. This saves the time otherwise required to create a Symmetric Key, encrypt it with the client public key (which is also an expensive RSA operation), and transmit the encrypted key in the message (it occupies markup and requires Base64 operations).


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