Identity mapping

Identity mapping is a one-to-one mapping of a user identity between two servers so that the proper authorization decisions are made by downstream servers. Identity mapping is necessary when the integration of servers is needed, but the user registries are different and not shared between the systems.

In most cases, requests flow downstream between two servers that are part of the same security domain. In WebSphere Application Server, two servers that are members of the same cell are also members of the same security domain. In the same cell, the two servers have the same user registry and the same LTPA keys for token encryption. These two commonalities ensure that the LTPA token (among other user attributes), which flows between the two servers, not only can be decrypted and validated, but also the user identity in the token can be mapped to attributes that are recognized by the authorization engine.

The most reliable and recommended configuration involves two servers within the same cell. However, sometimes you need to integrate multiple systems that cannot use the same user registry. When the user registries are different between two servers, the security domain or realm of the target server does not match the security domain of the sending server.

WebSphere Application Server enables mapping to occur either before sending the request outbound or before enabling the existing security credentials to flow to the target server as-is. The credentials are mapped inbound with the specification that the target realm is trusted.

An alternative to mapping is to send the user identity without the token or the password to a target server without actually mapping the identity. The use of the user identity is based on trust between the two servers. Use Common Secure Interoperability version 2 (CSIv2) identity assertion. When enabled, it sends just the X.509 certificate, principal name, or distinguished name (DN) based upon what was used by the original client to perform the initial authentication. During CSIv2 identity assertion, trust is established between the WAS appservers.

The user identity must exist in the target user registry for identity assertion to work. This process can also enable interoperability between other Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) V1.3 and higher compliant application servers. When using identity assertion, if both the sending server and target servers have identity assertion configured, WAS always uses this method of authentication, even when both servers are in the same security domain. For more information on CSIv2 identity assertion, see Identity assertion.

When the user identity is not present in the user registry of the target server, identity mapping must occur either before the request is sent outbound or when the request comes inbound. This decision depends upon your environment and requirements. However, it is typically easier to map the user identity before the request is sent outbound for the following reasons:

When you do perform outbound mapping, in most cases, it is recommended that you use SSL to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the security information sent across the network. If LTPA keys are not shared between servers, an LTPA token cannot be validated at the inbound server. In this case, outbound mapping is necessary because the user identity can not be determined at the inbound server to do inbound mapping. For more information, see Configuring outbound mapping to a different target realm.

When you need inbound mapping, potentially due to the mapping capabilities of the inbound server, ensure that both servers have the same LTPA keys so that one can get access to the user identity. Typically, in secure communications between servers, an LTPA token is passed into the WSCredTokenCallback of the inbound JAAS login configuration for the purposes of client authentication. A method is available that enables you to open the LTPA token, if valid, and get access to the user unique ID so that mapping can be performed. For more information, see Configuring inbound identity mapping. In other cases, such as identity assertion, you might receive a user name in the NameCallback of the inbound login configuration that enables you to map the identity.


Related Tasks

Configuring outbound mapping to a different target realm
Configuring inbound identity mapping


See Also

Identity assertion




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IBM is a trademark of the IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.