4.1.4 Configuring Authentication Contracts

Authentication contracts define how authentication occurs. An Identity Server can have several authentication contracts, such as name/password, X.509, or Kerberos. From the available contracts, you assign a contract to a specific resource or resources. It is access to a resource that triggers the authentication process. If the user has already supplied the required credentials for the contract, the user is not prompted for them again.

Each contract is assigned a URI that uniquely identifies it. This URI can be shared with other providers so that they can identify the type of credentials the identity provider requires. You can also restrict a contract to be used for local authentication and not with other providers.

  1. Click Devices > Identity Servers > Edit > Local > Contracts.

  2. To delete a contract, select the contract, then click Delete.

    You cannot delete a contract if it is in use by Access Gateway.

  3. To create a new contract, click New.

  4. Specify the following details:



    Display name

    Specify the name of the authentication contract.


    Specify a value that uniquely identifies the contract from all other contracts. It is used to identify this contract for external providers and is a unique path value that you create. No space is allowed.

    The following are example of valid values for URI:


    Password expiration servlet

    Specify a URL to a page where the user can change password when the password expires or is within the grace login period. You must use eDirectory to change the number of grace logins. Grace logins work only with eDirectory.

    For more information about how to use this type of servlet, see Using a Password Expiration Service.

    Allow User Interaction

    If you specify a password expiration servlet, you can select this option. This allows users to decide whether to go to the servlet and change their passwords or to skip the servlet. If you always want to force the users to go the servlet to change their passwords, do not select this option.

    Login Redirect URL

    Specify the URL to which the users will be redirected. Use this setting for the following scenarios:

    • Forcing a user to a specific home page after successful authentication.

    • Forcing a user to configure challenge/response forgotten password questions.

    For more information, see Using Login Redirect URL Parameters.

    Allow User Interaction

    Select this option to allow the user to decide whether to continue to access a pre-configured URL or to continue to the page that the user usually accesses.

    For example, the user may frequently access www.a.com and have specified the redirect URL as https://someservice.com/path/password?user=<USERID>&store=<STOREID>&returl=<RETURN_URL> then, continue will allow the user to continue with that website that is www.a.com and redirect URL will take the user to the URL https://someservice.com/path/password?user=<USERID>&store=<STOREID>&returl=<RETURN_URL>&action=expire and then to www.a.com.

    Authentication Level

    Specify a number to this authentication contract to indicate its security level or rank. This setting preserves authentication contracts of a higher security level. When you enable the Satisfiable by a contract of equal or higher level option on this page, the system uses this value as a reference.

    For example, you might create a name/password authentication contract and assign it to level one. You might also create an X.509 authentication contract and assign it to level two. If a user supplies the credentials for the X.509 level-two contract, the system does not require the credentials to satisfy the name/password level-one authentication contract.

    Authentication Timeout

    Specify how long the session can be inactive before the user is prompted to log in again. The value can be from 5 minutes to 65535 minutes and must be divisible by 5.

    If you modify the time-out value for a contract, the newly assigned value is given to users as they log in. Currently logged in users retain the old value until they re-authenticate.

    You need to experiment to discover what values are best for your network configuration, your security requirements, and your users.

    • Shorter time-outs increase back-channel traffic and require more threads for authentication checks, but quickly free resources that are being used by inactive users. If you have slow back-end services, users could get disconnected waiting for a response, and these disconnects can generate more authentication traffic.

    • Longer time-outs, which allow inactive users to remain connected, increase memory requirements to store session information, but require fewer threads and don't generate as much back-channel traffic.

    For example, if you set the time-out to 5 minutes, an authentication check needs to be done 12 times each hour for each user authenticating with this contract. If the time-out is set to 60 minutes, an authentication check is done only one time each hour for each user. However, for the 5 minute time-out, resources can be freed within 5 minutes of inactivity by the user. For the 60-minute time-out, resources can take as long as 60 minutes to be freed, depending upon when the user goes inactive.

    NOTE:In case of Name/Password - Basic and Secure Name/Password - Basic contracts applied to a protected resource, then you won’t find the session as timed out, as the session gets renewed after time-out without user intervention using the Basic header sent from browser to Identity Provider.

    For information about how to use this feature with Access Gateway, see Assigning a Timeout Per Protected Resource.

    Activity Realm(s)

    Specify the name of the realm that can be used to indicate activity. Use a comma-separated list to specify multiple realms. This allows a user’s session to be kept alive when the user is accessing resources that are protected by different contracts. If both contracts belong to the same realm, activity on either resource keeps the session alive on the other resource.

    For more information about this feature, see Using Activity Realms.

    Satisfiable by a contract of equal or higher level

    Select to allow the system to satisfy this authentication contract if a user has logged in using another contract of an equal or higher authentication level, as specified in Authentication Level of an authentication contract.

    When you enable this option, you need to be aware of the authentication levels you have set for other contracts and the level that has been assigned to the default contract.

    When the protected resource is configured with Name/Password -Form as Authentication procedure, the user authentication details are prompted with transient federation. This option must be enabled to avoid prompting for authentication in the Target Service Provider.

    Satisfiable by External Provider

    Select to allow this contract to be selected when configuring an identity provider for Liberty or SAML 2.0. When you configure the authentication request, you can select a contract that has this option enabled and require the identity provider to use this contract for authentication to succeed.

    Requested By

    Select one of the following options:

    • Do not specify: Specifies that the identity provider can send any type of authentication to satisfy a service provider’s request, and instructs a service provider to not send a request for a specific authentication type or contract.

    • Use Types: Specifies that authentication types must be used.

      Select the types from the Available types field to specify which type to use for authentication between trusted service providers and identity providers. Standard types include Name/Password, Secure Name/Password, X509, Token, and so on.

    • Use Contracts: Specifies that authentication contracts must be used.

      Select the contract from the Available contracts list. For a contract to appear in the Available contracts list, the contract must have the Satisfiable by External Provider option enabled. To use the contract for federated authentication, the contract’s URI must be the same on the identity provider and the service provider. For information about contract options, see Configuring Authentication Contracts.

      Most third-party identity providers do not use contracts.

    Allowable Class

    Specify the class that instructs a service provider to send a request for a specific authentication type to the identity provider. You can modify this option only when you select authentication types.

    NOTE:In SAML 2.0 federation with Access Manager as a service provider, if external identity provider is authenticating a user, it sends <AuthnContext> information after authentication in the response. Access Manager uses this <AuthnContext> to find a matching contract at the service provider to identify the user. It identifies the contract by trying to match <saml:AuthnContextClassRef> with AllowableClass attribute or <saml:AuthnContextDeclRef> with URI attribute of existing contracts at the service provider.

    For example, if the external identity provider sends the following AuthnContext:

    <saml:AuthnContext> <saml:AuthnContextClassRef>urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:ac:classes:Password</saml:AuthnContextClassRef> <saml:AuthnContextDeclRef>adroit:login:user:np</saml:AuthnContextDeclRef> </saml:AuthnContext>

    and if Access Manager(as a Service Provider) has a contract A with uri = adroit:login:user:np or with Allowable class = urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:ac:classes:Password, then it matches the contract.

    NOTE:The Allowable class field is blank when an inbuilt Authentication Class is used in Identity Server.

    Methods and Available Methods

    Specify the authentication method to use for the contract. You can specify the order in which the methods are executed for login; however, this is not a graded list, so all the methods you specify are required. Available methods are the authentication methods you have set up.

    You can enable the multi-factor authentication by associating more than one methods to a contract.

    If you add more than one X.509 method, only the first one is used and it is automatically moved to the top of the list.

    When you choose a secure method, such as Secure Name/Password, ensure that you have enabled security for Identity Server configuration by setting the protocol to HTTPS. See Enabling SSL Communication.

  5. Click Next.

  6. Specify the following details to configure a card for the contract:




    (Optional) Specify an alphanumeric value that identifies the card. If you need to reference this card outside of Administration Console, specify a value here. If you do not assign a value, Identity Server creates one for its internal use.


    Specify the text that is displayed on the card to the user.


    Click Select local image to select the image to be displayed on the card.

    Show Card

    Determine whether the card is shown to the user, which allows the user to select and use the card for authentication. If this option is not selected, the card is only used when a service provider makes a request for the card.

    Passive Authentication Only

    Select this option if you do not want Identity Server to prompt the user for credentials. If Identity Server can fulfill the authentication request without any user interaction, the authentication succeeds. Otherwise, it fails.

  7. Click Finish, then OK.

  8. Update Identity Server and any devices that use Identity Server configuration.

  9. To use this contract, you must configure Access Manager to use it:

Configuring Options for an Authentication Contract

You can configure an authentication contract to perform the following actions:

Perform the following steps:

  1. Click Identity Servers > Edit > Local > Contracts > [Contract Name].

  2. Click Options > New.

  3. Specify the following details:




    Select the Property Value as true if you want to redirect a user logging with an expired password to the password management URI protected by an Access Gateway.


    Select the Property Value as true if you want to disable showing any other higher level authentication cards, if Satisfiable by a contract of equal or higher level is enabled.


    Specify Property Name and Value if you want to configure any other property for this contract.

  4. Click OK.

Using a Password Expiration Service

Access Manager supports any password management service that works with your user store. For an implementation example, see Configuring Access Manager for UserApp and SAML.

Configure the following options:

URL Parameters

When you are defining the URL for the password service on the Contracts page, the following optional tags can be used in the parameter definitions of the URL. You need to use parameter names that are understood by the service you have selected to use. Identity Server does not need to understand these parameters, but the password expiration service needs to understand them.

The following table lists common parameters. Your service might or might not use these, and might require others.




Provides the DN of the user with a password that is expired or expiring.


Provides the name of the user store that authenticated the user before redirecting the user to the password expiration service.


Provides the URL at Identity Server to which the user can be redirected after the password service completes.


Causes the password expiration service to behave as though the user’s password policy is set to allow the user to reset the password even though the user’s policy might be set to show the user a hint. The user sees the page to create a new password rather than seeing a hint for an existing password.

For example:


NOTE:If you copy this text, ensure to remove the white space between <STOREID> and &returl.

Identity Server fills in these values, which results in the following URL:

https://someservice.com/path/password?user=joe.novell&store=userstore1& returl=https://myidp.com/nidp/idff/sso&action=expire

Forcing Authentication after the Password Has Changed

The password service can also include parameters on the return URL sent to Identity Server. Identity Server understands the following parameter:




When the user is returned to Identity Server, this parameter forces the user to authenticate with the new password. This eliminates the possibility of an old password being used in an Identity Injection policy.

The following example sends this parameter with https://testnidp.novell.com:8443 as the base URL of Identity Server.

<form id="externalForm" action='https://testnidp.novell.com:8443/nidp/idff/sso?sid=0&id=117&forceAuth=TRUE' method="post">

When the user is redirected to the password management service URL because of an expired password, the POST data in that redirect contains the sid=<> and id=<> values as part of the value used for Identity Server return URL.

Grace Logins

If you specify a password service and do not specify a value for the number of grace logins in eDirectory, the contract redirects to the password management service only when the grace login count has reached 0 and the password has expired.

Identity Server needs to read the value of the grace login attribute to properly redirect to the password management servlet. If restricting grace logins is not important to your security model, enable grace logins and set the maximum to 9999 (the equivalent of infinite in most environments). For more information, see TID 3465171.

Federated Accounts

A user’s password does not expire and grace logins are not decremented when you have the following setup:

  • Identity Server is configured to act as a service provider

  • User identification is configured to allow federation

  • Federation is set up with SAML 2.0, Liberty, or WS Federation protocols

The password expiration service is not called because the user is not using a password for authentication. The service can only be called when the user’s account is defederated. After the user has defederated the account, the next time the user logs in, a password is required and the service is called.

Redirection to Password Management Servlet Protected by Access Gateway When Password Expires

When an Active Directory user with an expired password logs in to an authentication contract with a Password Expiration servlet configured, the user is redirected to the password management URI. If the Password Management portal is protected by Access Manager, the user is prompted again for authentication and is not permitted to login as the user password has expired.

If you want the user to be redirected to the Password Management Servlet, perform the following steps:

  1. Click Devices > Identity Servers > Edit > Local > Methods.

  2. Select the authentication method, which is used by the contract where Password Management Servlet is configured.

  3. Add the following property for the method used by contract with Password Expiration servlet:

    Property Name = ExpiredCheck

    Property Value = true

  4. Go to Identity Servers > Edit > Local > Contracts.

  5. Click the associated contract and then click Options > New.

  6. Select AUTHENTICATE WITH EXPIRED PASSWORD in Property Type and true in Property Value.

  7. Click OK > Apply, and then Update Identity Server.

Using Login Redirect URL Parameters

When you are defining the URL for login redirect URL on the Contracts page, the following optional tags can be used in the parameter definitions of the URL. You need to use parameter names that are understood by the service you have selected to use. The login redirect URL must understand the name-value pairs you have defined and will use the resolved values in the redirected URL.




Provides the DN of the user with a password that is expired or expiring.


Provides the name of the user store that authenticated the user before redirecting the user to the password expiration service.


Provides the URL at Identity Server to which the user can be redirected after the password service completes.

For example:


NOTE:If you copy this text, ensure to remove the white space between <STOREID> and &returl.

Identity Server fills in these values, that results in the following URL:

https://someservice.com/path/password?user=joe.novell&store=userstore1& returl=https://myidp.com/nidp/idff/sso

In addition to the above three parameters you can also configure other parameters.

Using Activity Realms

Activity realms are designed to be used with an Access Manager system that uses multiple contracts to protect resources that require different activity time-outs. Activity realms allow you to define how activity at one protected resource affects the activity time-out at another protected resource.

An activity realm essentially represents a time line that tracks the last activity for any resource that is protected by a contract assigned to the activity realm. When a protected resource is accessed, the activity realm associated with the contract is marked as having activity. The contract times out for a protected resource when the elapsed time for activity on the activity realm is greater than the time limit specified in the contract.

For example, suppose you create an activity realm called shared1 and assign it to contract C1 with a time-out of 30 minutes and to contract C2 with a time-out of 15 minutes. Any activity at the resource protected by C1 or C2 marks activity to the shared1 time line. Figure 4-3 illustrates this scenario.

Figure 4-3 Two Contracts Sharing an Activity Realm

In Figure 4-3, the user logs into PR1 at time 0, then logs into PR2 at time 6. During the next 30 minutes, the user is active on PR1. The time line for the shared1 activity realm is updated with the user’s activity. The user then access PR2 at time 38. Even though no activity has taken place on PR2 for more than the 15-minute contract time-out, PR2 does not time out because activity has occurred within this time at PR1 and because the resources share the same activity realm. Assigning two or more contracts to the same activity realm allows the contracts to influence the time-outs of the other contracts in the activity realm.

When you configure protected resources to use different contracts with different time-outs, they can keep each other alive when they share the same activity realm. If protected resources must not affect each other's activity, they must not share a common activity realm.

You can assign a contract to multiple activity realms. With this configuration, activity on a resource updates the time lines of all activity realms associated with the contract. As long as one of the activity realms has activity within the contract’s time-out limit, the user’s session remains authenticated.

Activity realms are defined by specifying a name, and the names are case insensitive. Use a comma-separated list to specify multiple names. The system has two default realms that you can use:

  • Any: Leave the field blank or specify any when you want the user’s session to remain alive as long as there is some activity by the user at Access Gateway or at Identity Server.

    When Identity Server receives an assertion from another Identity Server that cannot be mapped to a contract, the activity realm is set to any with the time-out value equal to the value of the Tomcat session. (The Tomcat session timeout is set to the greatest time-out value of the contracts configured for Identity Server.)

  • NIDPActivity: Specify NIDPActivity for the realm when any activity at Identity Server by the user can be used to keep the user’s session alive.

When you place multiple contracts in the same activity realm, you need to plan carefully so that security limits aren’t overruled by activity on less critical protected resources. You also need to carefully balance the desire for single sign-on with the need to require reauthentication for sensitive data. Highly sensitive resources are most secure when they are protected by a contract that is created from its own unique method and that is assigned its own unique activity realm. For more information, see Assigning a Timeout Per Protected Resource.