Participation in the InCommon Federation (“Federation”) enables a federation participating organization (“Participant”) to use Shibboleth identity attribute sharing technologies to manage access to online resources that can be made available to the InCommon community. One goal of the Federation is to develop, over time, community standards for such cooperating organizations to ensure that shared attribute assertions are sufficiently robust and trustworthy to manage access to important protected resources. As the community of trust evolves, the Federation expects that participants eventually should be able to trust each other’s identity management systems and resource access management systems as they trust their own.
A fundamental expectation of Participants is that they provide authoritative and accurate attribute assertions to other Participants, and that Participants receiving an attribute assertion protect it and respect privacy constraints placed on it by the Federation or the source of that information. In furtherance of this goal, InCommon requires that each Participant make available to other Participants certain basic information about any identity management system, including the identity attributes that are supported, or resource access management system registered for use within the Federation.
Two criteria for trustworthy attribute assertions by Identity Providers are: (1) that the identity management system fall under the purview of the organization’s executive or business management, and (2) the system for issuing end-user credentials (e.g., PKI certificates, userids/passwords, Kerberos principals, etc.) specifically have in place appropriate risk management measures (e.g., authentication and authorization standards, security practices, risk assessment, change management controls, audit trails, etc.).
InCommon expects that Service Providers, who receive attribute assertions from another Participant, respect the other Participant’s policies, rules, and standards regarding the protection and use of that data. Furthermore, such information should be used only for the purposes for which it was provided. InCommon strongly discourages the sharing of that data with third parties, or aggregation of it for marketing purposes without the explicit permission1 of the identity information providing Participant.
InCommon requires Participants to make available to all other Participants answers to the questions below.2 Additional information to help answer each question is available in the next section of this document. There is also a glossary at the end of this document that defines terms shown in italics.
1 Such permission already might be implied by existing contractual agreements.
2 Your responses to these questions should be posted in a readily accessible place on your web site, and the URL submitted to InCommon. If not posted, you should post contact information for an office that can discuss it privately with other InCommon Participants as needed. If any of the information changes, you must update your on-line statement as soon as possible.
1. Federation Participant Information
1.1 The InCommon Participant Operational Practices information below is for:
InCommon Participant organization name: Vassar College
The information below is accurate as of this date: June 3, 2021
1.2 Identity Management and/or Privacy information
1.3 Contact information
The following person or office can answer questions about the Participant’s identity management system or resource access management policy or practice.
2. Identity Provider Information
The most critical responsibility that an IdentityProvider Participant has to the Federation is to provide trustworthy and accurate identity assertions.3 It is important for a Service Provider to know how your electronic identity credentials are issued and how reliable the information associated with a given credential (or person) is.
2.1 If you are an Identity Provider, how do you define the set of people who are eligible to receive an electronic identity? If exceptions to this definition are allowed, who must approve such an exception?
As outlined in our access policy, any exceptions to our defined roles are handled by sponsored, time-limited, account access, handled and approved by our Senior Officers.
2.2 “Member of Community4” is an assertion that might be offered to enable access to resources made available to individuals who participate in the primary mission of the university or organization. For example, this assertion might apply to:
Employees, students, emeriti and other persons with a basic set of privileges that go with membership in the university community
3 Read a general note regarding attributes and recommendations within the Federation.
4 “Member” is one possible value for eduPersonAffiliation as defined in the eduPerson schema. It is intended to include faculty, staff, student, and other persons with a basic set of privileges that go with membership in the university community (e.g., library privileges). “Member of Community” could be derived from other values in eduPersonAffiliation or assigned explicitly as “Member” in the electronic identity database. See http://www.educause.edu/eduperson
What subset of persons registered in your identity management system would you identify as a “Member of Community” in Shibboleth identity assertions to other InCommon Participants?
Employees (faculty, staff, administrators), Students, Emeriti
Electronic Identity Credentials
2.3 Please describe in general terms the administrative process used to establish an electronic identity that results in a record for that person being created in your electronic identity database? Please identify the office(s) of record for this purpose. For example, “Registrar’s Office for students; HR for faculty and staff.”
Registrar’s Office for students; HR for faculty and staff.
2.4 What technologies are used for your electronic identity credentials (e.g., Kerberos, userID/password, PKI, ...) that are relevant to Federation activities? If more than one type of electronic credential is issued, how is it determined who receives which type? If multiple credentials are linked, how is this managed (e.g., anyone with a Kerberos credential also can acquire a PKI credential) and recorded?
Encrypted OpenLDAP for our Identity Store. All constituents get the same identity type.
2.5 If your electronic identity credentials require the use of a secret password or PIN, and there are circumstances in which that secret would be transmitted across a network without being protected by encryption (i.e., “clear text passwords” are used when accessing campus services), please identify who in your organization can discuss with any other Participant concerns that this might raise for them:
2.6 If you support a “single sign-on” (SSO) or similar campus-wide system to allow a single user authentication action to serve multiple applications, and you will make use of this to authenticate people for InCommon Service Providers, please describe the key security aspects of your SSO system including whether session timeouts are enforced by the system, whether user-initiated session termination is supported, and how use with “public access sites” is protected.
Our SSO platform is currently not used to authenticate for InCommon Service Providers.
2.7 Are your primary electronic identifiers for people, such as “net ID,” eduPersonPrincipalName, or eduPersonTargetedID considered to be unique for all time to the individual to whom they are assigned? If not, what is your policy for re-assignment and is there a hiatus between such reuse?
Unique for All Time
Electronic Identity Database
2.8 How is information in your electronic identity database acquired and updated? Are specific offices designated by your administration to perform this function? Are individuals allowed to update their own information on-line?
The information is updated by HR and Registrar, with the exception of personal email and mobile phone which can be updated by the individual.
2.9 What information in this database is considered “public information” and would be provided to any interested party?
With the exception of attributes released to leverage InCommon authentication, with the user’s consent, we do not consider any information public.
Uses of Your Electronic Identity Credential System
2.10 Please identify typical classes of applications for which your electronic identity credentials are used within your own organization.
Network File Storage
Network Access (wireless)
Attributes are the information data elements in an attribute assertion you might make to another Federation participant concerning the identity of a person in your identity management system.
2.11 Would you consider your attribute assertions to be reliable enough to:
[x] control access to on-line information databases licensed to your organization?
[x] be used to purchase goods or services for your organization?
[x] enable access to personal information such as student loan status?
Federation Participants must respect the legal and organizational privacy constraints on attribute information provided by other Participants and use it only for its intended purposes.
2.12 What restrictions do you place on the use of attribute information that you might provide to other Federation participants?
We don’t place restrictions on the use of these attributes by federated partners.
2.13 What policies govern the use of attribute information that you might release to other Federation participants? For example, is some information subject to FERPA or HIPAA restrictions?
We have a privacy statement available.
This policy would also apply in the realm of IdM. We also do store some information that would be subject to FERPA regulations, but no data in our IdM database would relate to HIPPA.
3. Service Provider Information
Service Providers are trusted to ask for only the information necessary to make an appropriate access control decision, and to not misuse information provided to them by Identity Providers. Service Providers must describe the basis on which access to resources is managed and their practices with respect to attribute information they receive from other Participants.
3.1 What attribute information about an individual do you require in order to manage access to resources you make available to other Participants? Describe separately for each service ProviderID that you have registered.
To access our current Service Provider we require
- Eduperson principle name
- Sir name
- Given name
- Eduperson affilitation
3.2 What use do you make of attribute information that you receive in addition to basic access control decisions? For example, do you aggregate session access records or records of specific information accessed based on attribute information, or make attribute information available to partner organizations, etc.?
Attributes received from federated partners are only stored and used by the service application that requests the attributes. They are used to provide access by authenticated users only and are not used for any other purpose. We never release any received attribute information to any third parties.
3.3 What human and technical controls are in place on access to and use of attribute information that might refer to only one specific person (i.e., personally identifiable information)? For example, is this information encrypted?
The information is encrypted or only accessible to the application administrator(s).
3.4 Describe the human and technical controls that are in place on the management of super-user and other privileged accounts that might have the authority to grant access to personally identifiable information?
We have a committee of data owners and custodians to review and approve all access to PII.
3.5 If personally identifiable information is compromised, what actions do you take to notify potentially affected individuals?
We will contact the individual(s) by phone, email, or mail depending on the breadth of the incident.
4. Other Information
4.1 Technical Standards, Versions and Interoperability
Identify the version of Internet2 Shibboleth code release that you are using or, if not using the standard Shibboleth code, what version(s) of the SAML and SOAP and any other relevant standards you have implemented for this purpose.
4.2 Other Considerations
Are there any other considerations or information that you wish to make known to other Federation participants with whom you might interoperate? For example, are there concerns about the use of clear text passwords or responsibilities in case of a security breach involving identity information you may have provided?
Revised: June 3, 2021