Phaos looks to boost Liberty single sign-on

Phaos Technology Corp. week released the Phaos Liberty Toolkit to enable developers to build applications adhering to the Liberty Alliance single sign-on specification for federated network identity.

With the toolkit, Java developers can build applications that enable single sign-on capabilities, support the consolidation of enterprise authentication schemes, and allow migration from legacy infrastructure to XML-based Web services, Phaos said. The toolkit features integrated XML digital signatures and XML encryption as well as privacy and identity mechanisms by integrating hardware operations.

The toolkit is expected to be used for federated authentication applications, such as those used for trading relationships among buying entities, manufacturers, and end-consumers, said Roger Sullivan, president of Phaos. It represents an advancement over PKI, according to Sullivan.

"The problem with PKI is that, in order to proliferate PKI, everybody's got to have a card, a certificate," Sullivan said. "Until everybody has certificates it can't begin to initiate my trading relationship. The SAML component [of Liberty] provides assistance with this. It is to some degree self-authenticating -- if we agree on a relationship and some rules and you and I can set up a trading relationship with our subordinate employees who are authenticated by the rules that you and I have set up -- I don't have to ping that third-party every transaction. The user presents their credentials as part of the buying transaction. I believe this will help proliferate authentication."

The toolkit expands on the earlier Phaos Liberty SDK with a fully integrated security library. It supports XML, SAML, and SSLava toolkits.

"The Liberty SDK provided customers with a collection of tools from which they could build their own Liberty-compliant application if they wished to do that," Sullivan said. "All the components were there but they had to put them together. What we're doing with [the new product] is assemble the pieces into a unified collection to make it much easier for them to build a Liberty-compliant application."

Asked if Phaos will provide tools for Microsoft Corp.'s rival authentication scheme, Passport, Sullivan said users are focused on Java-based tools.

"[Passport is] C++ based and to our experience it's been a bit of a closed environment, although Microsoft is opening up aspects of it. We've focused on Java-based tools. Our customers tell us that's what they are using," said Sullivan.

Liberty Toolkit developer licenses cost US$10,000 and run-time licenses are $15,000 per CPU.

Phaos this week also announced Phaos XML Toolkit 2.0, a Java toolkit for building interoperable and secure XML-based applications that benefit from code portability and scalability of Java. Also released was Phaos SAML 1.0, providing a protocol consisting of XML-based request and response message formats to communicate assertions of an entity's attributes, authentication, and authorization.

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