ADFS is keeping me busy

I have been neglecting this poor little blog for some time now and that’s not really fair. I do have a good reason, though. You see, I started my job at a major oil and gas company in Dec. as a result, I have been trying to not only earn my stripes as a security professional (a hat I have worn but never full time) but also to meet the crazy deadlines a company like mine has in place. As a result, I have been devoting a great deal of time and effort to learning of a mysterious piece of software known as ADFS.

To those who are not part of a MS-Centric world, the ADFS server is really what a lot of MS folks have been getting excited about. ADFS stands for Active Directory Federated Services and is something that, although it has been around for several years,  has only recently started growing at such an alarming rate. The reason behind this is that Microsoft is using the ADFS software, a tool that allows you to essentially build a trust between yourself and an MS Cloud server (likely running Azure) or any number of applications that are ‘claims-aware’. The flagship product for using this new ADFS is the Office365 application which is what has been keeping me busy.

After successfully taking ADFS from the birthing floor all the way into what is not a production level test, I have become a small-time expert on the subject. I know all about tokens-aware and claims-aware apps, I am becoming familiar with the often curious ‘SAML” language or “Security Assertion Markup Language” which is used by various “Identity Providers” (software or servers designed to understand SAML) to send ‘tokens’ (little chewy bits of SAML code…basically SAML cookies) from the IdP to the Relying Party Trust (RPT). The program has been fun to learn and I can see a lot of practical uses for the application and what it is capable of. Now, if I can only teach myself more advanced Active Directory topics that were somehow completely absent from my learning and experience in other positions I will be doing just fine. At least then I wouldn’t feel like such a n00b but that’s the way things go when you are starting a new gig, right?

Keep on keepin’ on and so will I.

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