Tuesday May 12, 2009

A Simple foaf+ssl Identity Provider (IdP)

In order to help people get started with foaf+ssl, we have put together a very simple Identity Provider service (IdP). This removes the need for web services to have to deal with setting up https certificates and changing much to their current web setup. With a few lines of server side code any server can now easily find the WebId of a user, and try out some interesting ideas at little cost. If the experiment is useful, for extra security and reliability a business case can then be made for integrating a full foaf+ssl stack.

The protocol is very much as we outlined in a earlier post entitled "Sketch of a foaf+ssl+openid service". The details of the API are listed directly on the root of the first foaf+ssl IdP serviced, available here: https://foafssl.org/srv/idp. All the Service Provider - that is the consumer of the IdP - needs to do is to add a login button or link to his web page that points to the above IdP with a authreqissuer=$url parameter that points back to a CGI controlled by the Service Provider that can parse the redirect containing the user's WebId. That url comes with a timestamp to avoid replay attacks, and is signed to assure authenticity.

Bruno Harbulot wrote the code and published it under a BSD licence by the University of Manchester where he studies. The code is available on the So(m)mer Subversion repository. You can download it with:

$ svn checkout https://sommer.dev.java.net/svn/sommer/foafssl/trunk foafssl --username guest
and start your own IdP if you want. Please feel free to contribute back improovements, or ping us for missing features.

Update September 14, 2009

The IdP is now RDFa enabled, using Damian Steer's RDFa parser for Jena which I ported to Sesame. The war file can be downloaded directly from the dev.java.net Maven repository. To set up your own IdP use that WAR and follow the foaf+ssl setup instructions for Tomcat. This war may only work for Tomcat 7.

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