InCommon Federation: Participant Operational Practices

Participation in the InCommon Federation (Federation) enables a federation participating organization (“Participant”) to use Shibboleth identity attribute sharing technologies to manage access to on-line 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 permission[1] 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. Federation Participant Information

1.1 The InCommon Participant Operational Practices information below is for: InCommon Participant organization name: University of Florida The information below is accurate as of this date: August 1, 2009 1.2 Identity Management and/or Privacy information Additional information about the Participant’s identity management practices and/or privacy policy regarding personal information can be found on-line at the following location(s).

UF Security Policy, Standard and Procedures at,
UF Identity and Access Management at,
UF Privacy Policies and Procedures at

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.
Name: Warren Curry
Title or role: InCommon Administrator
Email address:
Phone: (352) 273-1383

2. Identity Provider Information

The most critical responsibility that an Identity Provider 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? UF allows a variety of affiliations to receive and maintain electronic credentials. UF has an identity management (IdM) policy that can be viewed at The UF IdM system is centralized and maintained as an Enterprise wide service. UF issues a person a single UFID (8 digit identifier) to serve as their personal identifier within the UF community. A subset of these UFIDs meet criteria for Basic, Bronze and Silver Identities. These identities have an associated Eduperson Affiliation and will be eligible for federated access. These identities may be issued via UF HRMS processes, UF Student Records and Admissions processes, and through a trained identity provisioning staff who are responsible for managing identity under the UF identity management policy. Additional information can be found regarding the UF Affiliation mappings to Edu Person Affiliations on the UF Affiliations Reference page.


2.2 Member of Community[4] 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 anyone whose affiliation is currently student, faculty, or staff.

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?

UF would assert that the EduPerson affiliations Faculty, Staff, Employee, Student, Alumni, Member and Affiliate are all members of the UF community that we sanction for federated access. A detailed set of local UF affiliations that indicate the membership in these EduPerson (Primary) affiliation groups can be reviewed on the UF Identity Registry Affiliations page.

. The primary affiliation grouping of Pre- applicant/Contact on this resource page should be considered Self-Asserted identities and will not participate in federated access.

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, the Registrar’s Office for students; and HR for faculty and staff.

Identity at the University of Florida is coordinated jointly by the Directory Administration staff housed in the UF IT IAM office, University Personnel, Office of The Registrar, Office of Admissions and the UF Help Desk. The university has a staff position to coordinate and deal with issues and resolve questions within the IAM office. Each unit within the university has a Primary Directory Coordinator responsible for IdM practices and data quality at the unit level. The university IdM software is operated by the enterprise IT application unit. The Identity Directory Application is the authentic source of identity data at the University of Florida. It is integrated with security systems, HR, Student and a wide variety of enterprise and unit level systems. A person without a UFID identity credential will have difficulty getting services at the University of Florida. Each person may possess one and only one UFID. Identity Policy document can be found on the Identity Management Policies page.

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?

Each person with access to University systems is issued a personal username and password, known as the GatorLink username and passwords. These credentials are used by Shibboleth and are housed in a Kerberos environment. We also have data related to the Attribute Release Policies (ARPs) that are sourced from UF enterprise databases. In addition the UF enterprise Active Directory is used for providing data for the Shibboleth Attribute Release Policies. All facilities are within the management and control of the UF IT.

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:

It is the university policy and practice that all GatorLink user account passwords are always encrypted during data transmissions across the network.

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.

Single sign on (SSO) is supported by the Shibboleth implementation at the University of Florida. All service providers (SP) have an IdP enforced session timeout. Each SP may terminate and control access at a more robust level as needed. A user is not able to terminate the IdP session without closing the browser. All sessions are expired based on a minimum of 2 hours.

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?

a) The UFID is assigned to each individual and is never changed.

b) A UF GatorLink (GLID) username can never be reassigned. Expired or disabled accounts are unable to successfully authenticate. The GatorLink account will occur in the eduPersonPrincipleName as

c) The eduPersonTargetedID does not change for a particular service provider / user combination. These will not change overtime.

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?

University of Florida has a robust enterprise Identity solution. We have an IAM office with an administrator who coordinates activity for the University. You may contact Identity Access Management Administration for assistance. The IAM office coordinates the effort of Primary Directory Coordinators within each University unit throughout the UF organization. The Primary Directory Coordinators are responsible for data quality as described in UF Identity policy and procedures. In addition, automated interfaces are built between the Identity system, the HRMS system, the Student Records and the Admissions systems. Domain systems must create a valid record in the Identity system prior to the individual being entered in any of those UF enterprise systems. Staff in the HR and Student records organizations are partners with IAM Administration in providing support for identity management administration. Affiliations are automatically provisioned/de-provisioned for students and HRMS entries to the identity affiliations. Unit Directory Coordinators are allowed to assign affiliations for non student and non employee affiliates and are charged by UF policy with the accuracy and management of those entries. The provisioning and de-provisioning of GatorLink electronic credentials is directly tied to the existence of qualified affiliations in the IdM database. The credential database is updated every 15 minutes with the current information.

2.9 What information in this database is considered public information and would be provided to any interested party?

In general UF protects all the university information related to identity and release only what is necessary to get the job done. InCommon federated partners should not release UF info to any other organization. Use of UF information should be limited to the specific federated service provider access. For additional information or permissions please contact Identity Access Management Administration.

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.

Over 550 UF affiliations use the GatorLink credentials including Enterprise ERP Applications, Student Records, Admissions, Housing, Learning Support Systems, Distance and Continuing Education. The GatorLink (glid) credential is the primary authentication tool for accessing technology at the University of Florida. It is tied directly to a specific personal identifier. Each person can have one and only one personal identifier and for their identity. The university has hundreds of applications which use this credential from enterprise systems, to college based systems, to department and course content websites.

Attribute Assertions

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:

[1 ] control access to on-line information databases licensed to your organization?


[2 ] be used to purchase goods or services for your organization?


[3 ] enable access to personal information such as student loan status?


Privacy Policy

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?

University of Florida Privacy Policy and Security Policy and Procedures should be observed in all federated usages of the UF data for a federated access. Furthermore, only the intended use for access to the federated service is allowed. This is to include authentication for access to an approved federated service and use in approved federated provider access and security logs should a problem arise and need to be dealt with related to a federated user. No additional use is permitted by the University of Florida for any service provider using GatorLink access.

Data covered by FERPA, HIPAA or PII are generally not used in a federated service provider exchange. If this became unavoidable for some reason, UF data is subject to UF Privacy and UF Security Policy and standards and procedures. In addition, any use of restricted data in a federated scenario would require explicit agreement of the UF Privacy office and should be only allowed if the UF IAM administration requests this access thru the UF Privacy office on behalf of the Federated Access Service Provider. These requests are closely scrutinized and reviewed prior to approval.

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 resource Provider ID that you have registered. In general we would need: eduPersonScopedAffiliation, eduPersonPrincipalName and /or eduPersonTargetedID, sn, givenName, displayName, mail and eduPersonEntitlement

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.? Attribute information used for access to UF Service providers will be used for access control decisions, network session access audit logs and application session access audit logs. No other use of the attribute information is generally allowed.

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?

UF policy and procedures are available on the IT Policies > Information Technology Security page. Policy, Standard and Procedures for restricted and sensitive information at UF are documented on this page.

In general the following statements are to be followed for PII information:

Limitations of UF-PII Use:

  1. Storage on and transmission between servers and desktops managed by UF IT Workers is permitted only for authorized roles. Encryption is recommended.
  2. Storage on backup media is permitted only for authorized roles. Strong encryption is required for easily portable backup media. A backup policy must be documented that minimizes retention and specifies destruction of obsolete data.
  3. Storage on personally managed computers, portable computers, and removable media requires approval by the UF Privacy Office, even for authorized roles, and should be very rare. Where such usage is unavoidable, strong encryption is required.
  4. Transmission involving non-UF servers and networks should be avoided and needs approval by the UF Privacy Office, even for authorized roles. Encryption is required.
  5. Anyone with access to UF-PII must attend UF-sanctioned data protection training and must agree to comply with UF data protection requirements.
  6. Removal of UF-PII from UF premises requires approval by the UF Privacy Office.
  7. Any alternatives or exceptions to these limitations must be approved by the UF Privacy Office. They should be rare and they must be documented.

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?

These accounts are controlled by the UF Password policy. They should be considered at least P4 level account and in many cases P5 level accounts. See the password policy for a complete description on the GatorLink Password Policies page. In addition, human factors are applied and reviewed in operational audits that limit the numbers of individuals with such access.

3.5 If personally identifiable information is compromised, what actions do you take to notify potentially affected individuals? All suspected breeches of PII at the University of Florida are required to be reported to the UF Privacy office following procedures documented on the Privacy Office‘s site. The disclosure of a potential incident with PII should be made as soon as possible.

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.

UF is using Shibboleth 2.0, and requires SAML 2.0

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?

Passwords should always be collected and transmitted in HTTPS protected data transmission. In limited cases UF uses a two factor method. This should not be needed in federated services that are planned at this time.

If any questions related to data security or exposure occurs or the compromise of a credential needs to be reported to the UF security office. Please send notices and questions to the UF Incident Response Team. The security team will coordinate any / all security exposure and questions related for any compromise in security.

Additional Notes and Details on
the Operational Practices Questions

As a community of organizations willing to manage access to on-line resources cooperatively, and often without formal contracts in the case of non-commercial resources, it is essential that each Participant have a good understanding of the identity and resource management practices implemented by other Participants. The purpose of the questions above is to establish a base level of common understanding by making this information available for other Participants to evaluate. In answering these questions, please consider what you would want to know about your own operations if you were another Participant deciding what level of trust to place in interactions with your on-line systems. For example:

  • What would you need to know about an Identity Provider in order to make an informed decision whether to accept its assertions to manage access to your on-line resources or applications?
  • What would you need to know about a Service Provider in order to feel confident providing it information that it might not otherwise be able to have?

It also might help to consider how identity management systems within a single institution could be used.

  • What might your central campus IT organization, as a Service Provider, ask of a peer campus Identity Provider (e.g., Computer Science Department, central Library, or Medical Center) in order to decide whether to accept its identity assertions for access to resources that the IT organization controls?
  • What might a campus department ask about the central campus identity management system if the department wanted to leverage it for use with its own applications?

The numbered paragraphs below provide additional background to the numbered questions in the main part of this document.

[1.2] InCommon Participants who manage Identity Providers are strongly encouraged to post on their website the privacy and information security policies that govern their identity management system. Participants who manage Service Providers are strongly encouraged to post their policies with respect to use of personally identifying information.

[1.3] Other InCommon Participants may wish to contact this person or office with further questions about the information you have provided or if they wish to establish a more formal relationship with your organization regarding resource sharing.

[2] Many organizations have very informal processes for issuing electronic credentials. For example, one campus does this through its student bookstore. A Service Provider may be more willing to accept your assertions to the extent that this process can be seen as authoritative.

[2.1] It is important for a Service Provider to have some idea of the community whose identities you may represent. This is particularly true for assertions such as the adperson Member of Community. A typical definition might be Faculty, staff, and active students, but it might also include alumni, prospective students, temporary employees, visiting scholars, etc. In addition, there may be formal or informal mechanisms for making exceptions to this definition, e.g., to accommodate a former student still finishing a thesis or an unpaid volunteer.

This question asks to whom you, as an Identity Provider, will provide electronic credentials. This is typically broadly defined so that the organization can accommodate a wide variety of applications locally. The reason this question is important is to distinguish between the set of people who might have a credential that you issue and the subset of those people who fall within your definition of Member of Community for the purpose of InCommon attribute assertions. h between the set of people who might have a credential that you issue and the subset of those people who fall within your definition of Member of Community for the purpose of InCommon attribute assertions.

[2.2] The assertion of Member of Community is often good enough for deciding whether to grant access to basic on-line resources such as library-like materials or websites. InCommon encourages participants to use this assertion only for Faculty, Staff, and active Students, but some organizations may have the need to define this differently. InCommon Service Providers need to know if this has been defined differently.

[2.3] For example, if there is a campus recognized office of record that issues such electronic credentials and that office makes use of strong, reliable technology and good database management practices, those factors might indicate highly reliable credentials and hence trustworthy identity assertions.

[2.4] Different technologies carry different inherent risks. For example, a use rid and password can be shared or stolen rather easily. A PKI credential or SecureID card is much harder to share or steal. For practical reasons, some campuses use one technology for student credentials and another for faculty and staff. In some cases, sensitive applications will warrant stronger and/or secondary credentials.

[2.5] Sending passwords in clear text is a significant risk, and all InCommon Participants are strongly encouraged to eliminate any such practice. Unfortunately this may be difficult, particularly with legacy applications. For example, gaining access to a centralized calendar application via a wireless data connection while you are attending a conference might reveal your password to too many others at that conference. If this is also your campus credential password, it could be used by another person to impersonate you to InCommon Participants.

[2.6] Single sign-on (SSO) is a method that allows a user to unlock his or her electronic identitycredential once and then use it for access to a variety of resources and applications for some period of time. This avoids people having to remember many different identifiers and passwords or to continually log into and out of systems. However, it also may weaken the link between an electronic identity and the actual person to whom it refers if someone else might be able to use the same computer and assume the former user’s identity. If there is no limit on the duration of a SSO session, a Federation Service Provider may be concerned about the validity of any identity assertions you might make. Therefore it is important to ask about your use of SSO technologies.

[2.7] In some identity management systems, primary identifiers for people might be reused, particularly if they contain common names, e.g. Jim This can create ambiguity if aService Provider requires this primary identifier to manage access to resources for that person.

[2.8] Security of the database that holds information about a person is at least as critical as theelectronic identity credentials that provide the links to records in that database. Appropriate security for the database, as well as management and audit trails of changes made to that database, and management of access to that database information are important.

[2.9] Many organizations will make available to anyone certain, limited public information. Other information may be given only to internal organization users or applications, or may require permission from the subject under FERPA or HIPAA rules. A Service Provider may need to know what information you are willing to make available as public information and what rules might apply to other information that you might release.

[2.10] In order to help a Service Provider assess how reliable your identity assertions may be, it is helpful to know how your organization uses those same assertions. The assumption here is that you are or will use the same identity management system for your own applications as you are using for federated purposes.

[2.11] Your answer to this question indicates the degree of confidence you have in the accuracy of your identity assertions.

[2.12] Even public information may be constrained in how it can be used. For example, creating a marketing email list by harvesting email addresses from a campus directory web site may be considered illicit use of that information. Please indicate what restrictions you place on information you make available to others.

[2.13] Please indicate what legal or other external constraints there may be on information you make available to others.

[3.1] Please identify your access management requirements to help other Participants understand and plan for use of your resource(s). You might also or instead provide contact information for an office or person who could answer inquiries.

[3.2] As a Service Provider, please declare what use(s) you would make of attribute information you receive.

[3.3] Personally identifying information can be a wide variety of things, not merely a name or credit card number. All information other than large group identity, e.g., member of community, should be protected while resident on your systems.

[3.4] Certain functional positions can have extraordinary privileges with respect to information on your systems. What oversight means are in place to ensure incumbents do not misuse such privileges?

[3.5] Occasionally protections break down and information is compromised. Some states have laws requiring notification of affected individuals. What legal and/or institutional policies govern notification of individuals if information you hold is compromised?

[4.1] Most InCommon Participants will use Internet2 Shibboleth technology, but this is not required. It may be important for other participants to understand whether you are using other implementations of the technology standards.

[4.2] As an Identity Provider, you may wish to place constraints on the kinds of applications that may make use of your assertions. As a Service Provider, you may wish to make a statement about how User credentials must be managed. This question is completely open ended and for your use.


access management system The collection of systems and or services associated with specific on-line resources and/or services that together derive the decision about whether to allow a given individual to gain access to those resources or make use of those services.
assertion The identity information provided by an Identity Provider to a Service Provider.
attribute A single piece of information associated with an electronic identity database record. Some attributes are general; others are personal. Some subset of all attributes defines a unique individual.
authentication The process by which a person verifies or confirms their association with an electronic identifier. For example, entering a password that is associated with a UserID or account name is assumed to verify that the user is the person to whom the UserID was issued.
authorization The process of determining whether a specific person should be allowed to gain access to an application or function, or to make use of a resource. The resource manager then makes the access control decision, which also may take into account other factors such as time of day, location of the user, and/or load on the resource system.
electronic identifier A string of characters or structured data that may be used to reference an electronic identity.Examples include an email address, a user account name, a Kerberos principal name, a UC or campus NetID, an employee or student ID, or a PKI certificate.
electronic identity A set of information that is maintained about an individual, typically in campus electronic identity databases. May include roles and privileges as well as personal information. The information must be authoritative to the applications for which it will be used.
electronic identity credential An electronic identifier and corresponding personal secret associated with an electronic identity. An electronic identity credential typically is issued to the person who is the subject of the information to enable that person to gain access to applications or other resources that need to control such access.
electronic identity database A structured collection of information pertaining to a given individual. Sometimes referred to as an “enterprise directory.” Typically includes name, address, email address, affiliation, and electronic identifier(s). Many technologies can be used to create an identity database, for example LDAP or a set of linked relational databases.
identity Identity is the set of information associated with a specific physical person or other entity. Typically an Identity Provider will be authoritative for only a subset of a person’s identity information. What identityattributes might be relevant in any situation depend on the context in which it is being questioned.
identity management system A set of standards, procedures and technologies that provide electronic credentials to individuals and maintain authoritative information about the holders of those credentials.
Identity Provider A campus or other organization that manages and operates an identity management system and offers information about members of its community to other InCommon participants.
NetID An electronic identifier created specifically for use with on-line applications. It is often an integer and typically has no other meaning.
personal secret (also verification token) Used in the context of this document, is synonymous with password, pass phrase or PIN. It enables the holder of an electronic identifier to confirm that s/he is the person to whom the identifier was issued.
Service Provider A campus or other organization that makes on-line resources available to users based in part on information about them that it receives from other InCommon participants.

[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.

[3] A general note regarding attributes and recommendations within the Federation is available here:

[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