Chapter 1. Overview

Red Hat Single Sign-On is a single sign on solution for web apps and RESTful web services. The goal of Red Hat Single Sign-On is to make security simple so that it is easy for application developers to secure the apps and services they have deployed in their organization. Security features that developers normally have to write for themselves are provided out of the box and are easily tailorable to the individual requirements of your organization. Red Hat Single Sign-On provides customizable user interfaces for login, registration, administration, and account management. You can also use Red Hat Single Sign-On as an integration platform to hook it into existing LDAP and Active Directory servers. You can also delegate authentication to third party identity providers like Facebook and Google+.

1.1. Features

  • Single-Sign On and Single-Sign Out for browser applications.
  • OpenID Connect support.
  • OAuth 2.0 support.
  • SAML support.
  • Identity Brokering - Authenticate with external OpenID Connect or SAML Identity Providers.
  • Social Login - Enable login with Google, GitHub, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
  • User Federation - Sync users from LDAP and Active Directory servers.
  • Kerberos bridge - Automatically authenticate users that are logged-in to a Kerberos server.
  • Admin Console for central management of users, roles, role mappings, clients and configuration.
  • Account Management console that allows users to centrally manage their account.
  • Theme support - Customize all user facing pages to integrate with your applications and branding.
  • Two-factor Authentication - Support for TOTP/HOTP via Google Authenticator or FreeOTP.
  • Login flows - optional user self-registration, recover password, verify email, require password update, etc.
  • Session management - Admins and users themselves can view and manage user sessions.
  • Token mappers - Map user attributes, roles, etc. how you want into tokens and statements.
  • Not-before revocation policies per realm, application and user.
  • CORS support - Client adapters have built-in support for CORS.
  • Client adapters for JavaScript applications, JBoss EAP, Fuse, etc.
  • Supports any platform/language that has an OpenID Connect Resource Provider library or SAML 2.0 Service Provider library.

1.2. How Does Security Work?

Red Hat Single Sign-On is a separate server that you manage on your network. Applications are configured to point to and be secured by this server. Red Hat Single Sign-On uses open protocol standards like OpenID Connect or SAML 2.0 to secure your applications. Browser applications redirect a user’s browser from the application to the Red Hat Single Sign-On authentication server where they enter their credentials. This is important because users are completely isolated from applications and applications never see a user’s credentials. Applications instead are given an identity token or assertion that is cryptographically signed. These tokens can have identity information like username, address, email, and other profile data. They can also hold permission data so that applications can make authorization decisions. These tokens can also be used to make secure invocations on REST-based services.

1.3. Core Concepts and Terms

There are some key concepts and terms you should be aware of before attempting to use Red Hat Single Sign-On to secure your web applications and REST services.

users
Users are entities that are able to log into your system. They can have attributes associated with themselves like email, username, address, phone number, and birth day. They can be assigned group membership and have specific roles assigned to them.
authentication
The process of identifying and validating a user.
authorization
The process of granting access to a user.
credentials
Credentials are pieces of data that Red Hat Single Sign-On uses to verify the identity of a user. Some examples are passwords, one-time-passwords, digital certificates, or even fingerprints.
roles
Roles identify a type or category of user. Admin, user, manager, and employee are all typical roles that may exist in an organization. Applications often assign access and permissions to specific roles rather than individual users as dealing with users can be too fine grained and hard to manage.
user role mapping
A user role mapping defines a mapping between a role and a user. A user can be associated with zero or more roles. This role mapping information can be encapsulated into tokens and assertions so that applications can decide access permissions on various resources they manage.
composite roles
A composite role is a role that can be associated with other roles. For example a superuser composite role could be associated with the sales-admin and order-entry-admin roles. If a user is mapped to the superuser role they also inherit the sales-admin and order-entry-admin roles.
groups
Groups manage groups of users. Attributes can be defined for a group. You can map roles to a group as well. Users that become members of a group inherit the attributes and role mappings that group defines.
realms
A realm manages a set of users, credentials, roles, and groups. A user belongs to and logs into a realm. Realms are isolated from one another and can only manage and authenticate the users that they control.
clients
Clients are entities that can request Red Hat Single Sign-On to authenticate a user. Most often, clients are applications and services that want to use Red Hat Single Sign-On to secure themselves and provide a single sign-on solution. Clients can also be entities that just want to request identity information or an access token so that they can securely invoke other services on the network that are secured by Red Hat Single Sign-On.
client adapters
Client adapters are plugins that you install into your application environment to be able to communicate and be secured by Red Hat Single Sign-On. Red Hat Single Sign-On has a number of adapters for different platforms that you can download. There are also third-party adapters you can get for environments that we don’t cover.
consent
Consent is when you as an admin want a user to give permission to a client before that client can participate in the authentication process. After a user provides their credentials, Red Hat Single Sign-On will pop up a screen identifying the client requesting a login and what identity information is requested of the user. User can decide whether or not to grant the request.
client templates
When a client is registered you need to enter configuration information about that client. It is often useful to store a template to make create new clients easier. Red Hat Single Sign-On provides the concept of a client template for this.
client role
Clients can define roles that are specific to them. This is basically a role namespace dedicated to the client.
identity token
A token that provides identity information about the user. Part of the OpenID Connect specification.
access token
A token that can be provided as part of an HTTP request that grants access to the service being invoked on. This is part of the OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 specification.
assertion
Information about a user. This usually pertains to an XML blob that is included in a SAML authentication response that provided identity metadata about an authenticated user.
service account
Each client has a built-in service account which allows it to obtain an access token.
direct grant
A way for a client to obtain an access token on behalf of a user via a REST invocation.
protocol mappers
For each client you can tailor what claims and assertions are stored in the OIDC token or SAML assertion. You do this per client by creating and configuring protocol mappers.
session
When a user logs in, a session is created to manage the login session. A session contains information like when the user logged in and what applications have participated within single-sign on during that session. Both admins and users can view session information.
user federation provider
Red Hat Single Sign-On can store and manage users. Often, companies already have LDAP or Active Directory services that store user and credential information. You can point Red Hat Single Sign-On to validate credentials from those external stores and pull in identity information.
identity provider
An identity provider (IDP) is a service that can authenticate a user. Red Hat Single Sign-On is an IDP.
identity provider federation
Red Hat Single Sign-On can be configured to delegate authentication to one or more IDPs. Social login via Facebook or Google+ is an example of identity provider federation. You can also hook Red Hat Single Sign-On to delegate authentication to any other OpenID Connect or SAML 2.0 IDP.
identity provider mappers
When doing IDP federation you can map incoming tokens and assertions to user and session attributes. This helps you propagate identity information from the external IDP to your client requesting authentication.
required actions
Required actions are actions a user must perform during the authentication process. A user will not be able to complete the authentication process until these actions are complete. For example, an admin may schedule users to reset their passwords every month. An update password required action would be set for all these users.
authentication flows
Authentication flows are work flows a user must perform when interacting with certain aspects of the system. A login flow can define what credential types are required. A registration flow defines what profile information a user must enter and whether something like reCAPTCHA must be used to filter out bots. Credential reset flow defines what actions a user must do before they can reset their password.
events
Events are audit streams that admins can view and hook into.
themes
Every screen provided by Red Hat Single Sign-On is backed by a theme. Themes define HTML templates and stylesheets which you can override as needed.