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User authentication is a crucial security component for most computing systems. But since the security needs of different systems vary widely, authentication mechanisms are similarly diverse. In particular, independently-managed Web and grid services vary with regard to the type of security token (credential) used to prove user identity (username/password, X.509 signing, Kerberos, etc.). Forcing users to manage and present credentials manually for each service is tedious, error-prone and potentially insecure. In contrast, we present CredEx, an open-source, standards-based Web service that facilitates the secure storage of credentials and enables the dynamic exchange of different credential types using the WS-Trust token exchange protocol. With CredEx, a user can achieve single sign-on by acquiring a single (default) credential then dynamically exchanging that credential as needed for services that authenticate a different way. We describe the design and implementation of CredEx by focusing on its use in bridging password-based Web services and PKI-based grid services, illustrating how interoperability between these realms can be based upon the WS-Security and WS-Trust specifications.
Date of Conference: 11-15 July 2005