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Novell Bandit Project

Novell Enables Rapid Adoption of Identity Management by Open Sourcing Key Technologies

Working Within the Larger Identity and Open Source Communities, The Bandit Project Will Address Common Identity Management Requirements

Waltham, MA, USA. June 12, 2006.

Novell today announced the creation of Bandit, a groundbreaking open source project with a charter to unify disparate identity systems and provide a consistent approach to securing and managing identity. The identity services in development by the Bandit community are open source and will work with existing industry standards such as WS- * and Liberty Federation, and open source projects including Eclipse Higgins. Novell has already contributed significant engineering resources and code to jump start this effort. Ultimately, the goal of the Bandit project is to provide organizations with a consistent approach to enterprise identity management challenges such as secure, role-based access and regulatory compliance reporting.

"The Bandit project is looking to address one of the toughest challenges in identity management today — how to provide a consistent approach to securing and managing identity," said Mike Neuenschwander, vice president and research director for the Burton Group. "The creation of identity services that abstract the complexity of identity systems and that are interoperable and freely available is a worthwhile goal and represents an important inflection point in the ongoing development of the identity management market."

While many organizations deploy identity management technologies today, disparate vendor solutions can create complexity and potentially slow adoption. By developing an open source enablement layer, Novell and the Bandit community will make it possible to standardize identity management across differing systems and resources. Bandit's freely available code can then be overlayed on an existing identity management system.

The Bandit project is focused on delivering a single, consistent experience of digital identity and includes several common identity services such as authentication, roles, policy and compliance:

  • The Common Authentication Services Adapter (CASA) provides interoperable authentication that enables application and enterprise single sign-on with a secure vault for user and system credentials.
  • The Common Identity service is an implementation of the Higgins framework for representing digital identity.
  • The Role Engine service can be integrated into any application to consistently calculate role information and unify authorization across systems.
  • The Audit Record Framework service provides an open auditing and compliance API and receives audit records from Bandit's open identity services and other applications to provide common identity and event information to verify security and compliance.

Novell already incorporates some of Bandit's open identity services within its SUSE Linux distribution and plans to include Bandit's identity services in future releases of other products. Novell will continue to support the Bandit project with substantial engineering resources and will maintain the project while the Bandit community grows.

"The Bandit project was created in response to our customers' need to reduce the complexity of identity management in the enterprise," said Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Novell. "The industry needs to come together and deliver common identity services that provide a consistent experience, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. Novell's initial sponsorship of the Bandit project is a natural extension of our leadership in both identity and open source, and we are gratified to see the groundswell of community support."

A Community-driven Approach to Enterprise Identity Management

The Bandit project builds upon the participation of the broader identity and open source communities and many industry leaders are expressing their support and commitment to the goals of the Bandit project.

Partner Quotes

Dominic Fedronic, chief technology officer for ActivIdentity Inc., said, "The deployment of digital identity assurance and strong authentication solutions for both government and enterprise would greatly benefit from seamless interoperability and tight integration with identity management systems. ActivIdentity supports Novell's leadership with the Bandit project and Higgins as we believe the resulting open industry standards will expand the market and deliver greater value to customers."

Paul Trevithick, technology lead for the Higgins project at the Eclipse Foundation, said, "We are very pleased that Novell is promoting the adoption of open source identity technologies and that the Bandit project is contributing to and leveraging Higgins. Bandit is providing an important service by making an open identity infrastructure available on enterprise platforms including SUSE Linux."

Anthony Nadalin, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Security Architect for IBM, said, "IBM is pleased that Novell is using Higgins as the Identity Management foundation for the Bandit project. As a leading proponent of open source, IBM is committed to working with the Eclipse Higgins community to solve the identity-related challenges our customers face everyday."

George Goodman, president of the Liberty Alliance management board and director, Platform Capabilities Lab at Intel, said, "Liberty Alliance welcomes open initiatives that bring the industry closer to achieving a ubiquitous interoperable privacy-respecting identity layer for the Internet. We salute the Bandit team for contributing open source that will help advance the deployment of Liberty-enabled federations and Web services on the widest possible scale."

Kim Cameron, architect of Identity and Access for Microsoft, said: "The Identity Metasystem provides a model for identity interoperability across the industry. We're happy to see Novell playing an active role in helping realize the Identity Metasystem and look forward to working with them to ensure interoperability between our respective products."

Jim Gerken, practice manager for identity management with Novacoast, said, "We have spent years connecting disparate authentication repositories which confirms the need for consistent and standard identity services. With Novell's leadership in identity and open source, Bandit is a natural community for Novell to create that leverages its position in both markets."

Bob Lord, Red Hat senior director engineering, said, "Red Hat supports open source initiatives to build stronger identity frameworks and controls based on open standards. The Bandit project provides several initiatives that will help simplify identity management in heterogeneous environments and drive further innovation for the enterprise. We look forward to working with the open source community to extend a flexible identity framework from desktop to server, network to application."

Sara Gates, vice president of Identity Management at Sun Microsystems, said, "As a co-founder of the Liberty Alliance and a leading champion of open source, we have seen firsthand how customers are embracing open source technologies as a way to accelerate business solutions and reduce their costs. We strongly support the move of identity management services into the open source community."

Dick Hardt, Sxip Identity founder and CEO, said, "The identity management industry needs a common approach to secure, role-based access and compliance reporting for the enterprise and open source projects like Bandit from Novell and Higgins are a great step in that direction. We see this as a natural complement to the user-centric Identity 2.0 efforts being made with SXIP and DIX and are excited to work with them on adding support of Bandit, Higgins and eDirectory."

Rob Clyde, Symantec vice president of technology, office of the CTO, said, "Symantec is a strong supporter of open source initiatives that enable developer communities and vendors to work together to create flexible solutions capable of meeting the diverse needs of our customers. Companies today face a tremendous challenge as they try to integrate disparate application systems and security infrastructures each with its own authentication technologies into a cohesive, manageable solution. A standards-based approach backed by an open source implementation is a beneficial step towards addressing the vexing problem of identity management."

Jonathan Alexander, Trusted Network Technologies vice president of engineering, said, "Bandit is addressing key customer challenges, such as integrating distributed identity and roles, that we see as we help customers deploy our identity security and audit solutions. We see the Bandit and Higgins projects as filling a critical need to tie disparate identity systems together into a more pervasive, integrated and powerful solution."

About Novell

Novell, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL - News) delivers Software for the Open Enterprise. With more than 50,000 customers in 43 countries, Novell helps customers manage, simplify, secure and integrate their technology environments by leveraging best-of-breed, open standards-based software. With over 20 years of experience, 5,000 employees, 5,000 partners and support centers around the world, Novell helps customers gain control over their IT operating environment while reducing cost. More information about Novell can be found at

Additional References

  • Bandit. "Bandit is a system of loosely-coupled components that provide consistent identity services and creates a community that organizes and standardizes identity-related technologies in an open way, promoting both interoperability and collaboration... It implements open standard protocols and specifications such that identity services can be constructed, accessed, and integrated from multiple identity sources. The Bandit system supports many authentication methods and provides user-centric credential management. On this base of a common identity model, Bandit is building additional services needed for Role Based Access Control (RBAC) and for the emission of records to verify compliance with higher level policies."

  • Higgins. "Higgins is a framework that will enable users and enterprises to integrate identity, profile, and relationship information across multiple systems. Using context providers, existing and new systems such as directories, collaboration spaces, and communications technologies (e.g. Microsoft/IBM WS-*, LDAP, email, IM, etc.) can be plugged into the Higgins framework. Applications written to the Higgins API can virtually integrate the identity, profile, and relationship information across these heterogeneous systems. A design goal is that Higgins be useful in the development of applications accessed through browsers, rich clients and web services. Our intent is to define Higgins in terms of service descriptions, messages and port types consistent with an SOA model and to develop a Java binding and implementation as an initial reference..."

  • Digital Identity Exchange Protocol(DIX). The IETF Network Working Group Internet Draft for DIX specifies a binding and two profiles of the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) for identity information message exchanges, a discovery protocol based on HTML/HTTP, a message signing mechanism based on HMAC, and a signature verification protocol based on HTML/HTTP. The DIX protocol participants are: an Identity Agent, the User Client, and a Service Provider. The DIX User is a person who participates in DIX based identity information exchanges using their User Client software, which is typically a web browser. The user's Identity Agent (either a website or an application) is responsible for authenticating and identifying the user, providing a repository for their identity data, and releasing that data (with user consent) to other sites using the DIX protocol via the user's client. A Service Provider is a website that uses the DIX protocol to request or store identity information. Identity Data or Identity Information are attribute values associated with a DIX User. The protocol flow between the participants proceeds in three stages: 1) Discovery of an Identity Agent, 2) Exchange of identity information, and 3) Verification of that exchange..."

  • Liberty Alliance. "The Liberty Alliance Project was formed in September 2001 to serve as the premier open standards organization for federated identity and identity-based services. The Alliance is delivering specifications and guidelines to enable a complete network identity infrastructure that will resolve many of the technology and business issues hindering the deployment of identity-based Web services. Liberty Phase 1 specifications provide organizations with the ability to implement and deploy federated identity networks. Phase 2 introduces the following new elements to Liberty Alliance's Federated Network Identity architecture: Affiliations; Anonymity; Permissions-based attribute sharing; Identity discovery services; Interaction service; Security profiles; Extended client support; Liberty's first service interface specification; Personal Profile Services specification; Employee Profile Services specification."

  • Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) "SAML, developed by the Security Services Technical Committee of OASIS, is an XML-based framework for communicating user authentication, entitlement, and attribute information. As its name suggests, SAML allows business entities to make assertions regarding the identity, attributes, and entitlements of a subject (an entity that is often a human user) to other entities, such as a partner company or another enterprise application. Federation is the dominant movement in identity management today. Federation refers to the establishment of some or all of business agreements, cryptographic trust, and user identifiers or attributes across security and policy domains to enable more seamless cross-domain business interactions. As Web services promise to enable integration between business partners through loose coupling at the application and messaging layer, federation does so at the identity management layer — insulating each domain from the details of the others' authentication and authorization infrastructure..."

  • Extensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) "XACML enables the use of arbitrary attributes in policies, role-based access control, security labels, time/date-based policies, indexable policies, "deny" policies, and dynamic policies--all without requiring changes to the applications that use XACML. Adoption of XACML across vendor and product platforms provides the opportunity for organizations to perform access and access policy audits directly across such systems. In February of 2003, the OASIS membership at-large approved XACML version 1.0 as an OASIS Standard. In August of 2003, the OASIS XACML TC approved XACML Version 1.1 as an OASIS Committee Specification. As this version contained only clarifications and minor changes, and did not change the Version 1.0 schemas, it was not submitted for consideration as an OASIS Standard. In February of 2005, XACML version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Standard, along with six profiles of XACML: SAML 2.0, XML Digital Signature, Privacy Policy, Hierarchical Resource, Multiple Resource, and Core and Hierarchical Role Based Access Control (RBAC)."

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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