IdP ID registration and validation

bp idp-id-registration

This specification describes a more secure user mapping after authentication using the OS-FEDERATION APIs. The Identity Provider releasing the authentication assertion is identified to avoid wrong user mappings so its ID has to be registered in Keystone and validated upon authentication request.

Problem Description

With OS-FEDERATION it is possible to use external Identity Providers (IdPs) for user authentication. A user, to be authenticated, needs to access a specific path containing IdP name and protocol:


Then, the authentication follows the steps required by the selected protocol, e.g. in case of SAML the user is redirected to the IdP, and at the end of the process the user will return to the above URL with the authentication assertion. If it is accepted by Keystone, the assertion attributes are translated, according to a mapping defined for the IdP, in order to identify the roles for the new generated token to return to the user.

The mapping selected to convert the assertion attributes in roles depends on the URL, which is strictly related to the IdP. If the user can provide the assertion generated by IdP A to an URL identifying the IdP B then the attributes will be translated according to the mapping defined for B. As a result, users may get tokens with roles specified for other IdPs without any control from Keystone.

Currently, the correspondence among IdP assertions and URLs is delegated to a httpd web server and made use of some specific features of the Shibboleth plug-in used for SAML authentication. Other SAML plugins or plugins for other protocols could not support this configuration.

Proposed Change

When an IdP is registered in Keystone, its ID (i.e. in SAML protocol this will be the entity_id of the IdP) has to be stored alongside the other information and used during the authentication to verify that the IdP releasing the assertion matches the IdP specified in the URL. The ID is provided with a new attribute, named remote_ids, and this contains a list of IDs. The attribute should be made optional, for backwards compatibility.

remote_ids is defined as a list to allow the mapping of multiple external IdPs in a single IdP in Keystone. This can simplify the sharing of a mapping among IdPs, with benefit for the management. A possible scenario for this use arises when Keystone has to be connected with a federation having multiple IdPs and all share the same set of attributes and policies. In this case a single map could be possible to manage all the IdPs, avoiding to register all of them in Keystone.

As Keystone deployment should handle different protocols and different modules handling protocols parameter where remote_id values is stored needs to be dynamically configured in keystone.conf. Each protocol handled by Keystone must exist as a authentication method defined in [auth] section as well as corresponding section must be defined. Inside such section a parameter called remote_id_attribute should be defined if remote_ids should be validated.

Example of keystone.conf configuration:

methods = saml2,oidc
saml2 = auth.plugins.mapped.Mapped
oidc = auth.plugins.mapped.Mapped

remote_id_attribute = "Shib-Identity-Provider"

remote_id_attribute = "Claim-Identity-Provider"

It’s worth mentioning, that in this particular case both protocols saml2 and oidc would also need to be registered and tied to identity providers.


Maintain the current implementation where the map between IdPs and URLs is performed by Apache and skip any control in Keystone. This approach has the same level of security but requires a change in the configuration every time an IdP is added/removed.

Security Impact

The proposed specification increment the security of the OS-Federation authentication APIs by introducing a new check aimed at verifying that the IdP performing the authentication is the same specified in the authentication URL.

Notifications Impact


Other End User Impact

The python-keystoneclient needs to be updated in order to reflect the new API to register the IdP. In the current implementation there, the config attribute remote_ids does not exist. The attribute has to be included during the creation/editing of the IdPs.

Performance Impact

The new code is invoked every time a user requires an authentication with an IdP. This introduces a new check of an environmental variable but the impact is quite limited because there are in place other checks of the information coming from the IdP.

Other Deployer Impact

A new configuration variable is introduced:


The variable is a string and its value is the name of the attribute to look-up to get the ID of the current IdP. Default value is an empty string and in this case the new code does not take effect maintaining the previous behaviour of the OS-FEDERATION APIs.

Developer Impact




Primary assignee:

  • Marco Fargetta <marco-fargetta>

  • Marek Denis <marek-denis>

Work Items

  • Modify the IdP APIs to contain the new attribute remote_ids

  • Modify the python-keystoneclient to interact with modified API



Documentation Impact

The documentation of the APIs for the OS-Federation and the client needs to be updated with the proposed change.


A partial implementation of this specs under review: review 142743