Lightweight Third Party Authentication


Lightweight Third Party Authentication (LTPA) is intended for distributed, multiple appserver and machine environments. It supports forwardable credentials and single signon (SSO). LTPA can support security in a distributed environment through cryptography. This supports permits LTPA to encrypt, digitally sign, and securely transmit authentication-related data, and later decrypt and verify the digital signature.

LTPA supports cryptography and provides the SSO feature wherein a user is required to authenticate only once in a domain name system (DNS) domain and can access resources in other WebSphere Application Server cells without getting prompted. This protocol uses cryptographic keys (LTPA keys) to encrypt and decrypt user data that passes between the servers. These keys need to be shared between the different cells for the resources in one cell to access resources in other cells (assuming that all the cells involved use the same LDAP or custom registry).

When using LTPA, a token is created with the user information and an expiration time and is signed by the keys. The LTPA token is time sensitive. All product servers participating in a protection domain must have their time, date, and time zone synchronized. If not, LTPA tokens appear prematurely expired and cause authentication or validation failures. This token passes to other servers, in the same cell or in a different cell, either through cookies (for Web resources when SSO is enabled) or through the authentication layer Security(Authentication Service (SAS) or CSIv2 for enterprise beans). If the receiving servers share the same keys as the originating server, the token can be decrypted to obtain the user information, which then is validated to make sure it has not expired and the user information in the token is valid in its registry. On successful validation, the resources in the receiving servers are accessible after the authorization check.

All the WAS processes in a cell (cell, nodes, appservers) share the same set of keys. If key sharing is required between different cells, export them from one cell and import them to the other. For security purposes, the exported keys are encrypted with a user-defined password. This same password is needed when importing the keys into another cell.

In the base version of WAS, LTPA, ICSF, and the Simple Websphere Authentication Mechanism (SWAM) protocols are supported. When security is enabled for the first time in WAS with LTPA, configuring LTPA is normally the initial step performed.

LTPA requires that the configured user registry be a centrally shared repository such as LDAP or a Windows domain type registry so that users and groups are the same regardless of the machine.

The following table summarizes the authentication mechanism capabilities and user registries with which LTPA can work.

  Forwardable Credentials SSO LocalOS User Registry LDAP User Registry Custom User Registry
SWAM No No Yes Yes Yes
LTPA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ICSF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


See Also

Trust Associations
Single Signon
Supported directory services
Lightweight Third Party Authentication settings
LDAP settings
LDAP advanced settings
Identity assertion
Security: Resources for learning
Simple WebSphere authentication mechanism