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Update: Liberty Alliance, SAML and Novell

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Jeffrey Harris

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Posted: 6 Aug 2003

Novell Connection author Jeffrey Harris dives head first into the security issues we all face in our day-to-day dealings with the Web. Jeffrey outlines Novell's answers to those issues and how the Liberty Alliance and SAML fit in.

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"Give me Liberty, or give me death!" Patrick Henry's now immortalized demand in the early days of the American Revolutionary War seems somehow appropriate to current experiences on the Web.

Every site has an account. Every account has a name-and many of the names are distinct. Every name has a password, and several have password rules-different rules-resulting in different passwords. Too many passwords, too many identities, too many rules-and now I'm locked out of my own account!

Give me liberty! Liberty from that slow, agonizing death by Net complexity! We've all felt that way at one time or another. On the Web we can be anybody, but too many times the result is NMPD (Net Multiple Personality Disorder), and we can't keep track of who we're supposed to be-and when. One name here, another there. Trying to keep track of passwords and rules when all we really want to do is book a hotel, get the latest Grisham novel, and check on the ever-dwindling levels of a 401k account.

There are a few things Web users, including me, covet in a Web experience. First, we want a secure Web, particularly if personal information is going to be involved in any way. And a critical aspect of that security must be simplicity. If not, we'll create all kinds of work-arounds that end up weakening, or defeating, the very security that we so desire. Second, Net users want privacy. We want to be able to browse in peace, knowing that there isn't some "Big Brother" out there, tracking our every click and browse. If a centralized service is used for Net identity management, it becomes a huge temptation to capture and profit from all that data to which only we should be privy. Big Brother watches our Net habits, captures our clicks, and sells that info, 'cuz the most likely Big Brothers of the 21st century are capitalists. Finally, Net users want a sense of control. We should decide what information to provide and share, for each of our Net IDs. Maybe we want to manage multiple IDs centrally, maybe not. The point is?we decide. And that comfortable feeling of control isn't going to happen until we have some control over the process-and some control over where our data goes.

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