Federated Access

What is Federated Access?

Any system that acts as a standalone identity gateway is known as federated access. Google, by far, is one of the notable examples of federated identity access.

With Federated identity management (FIM), users don’t need new credentials to access applications that have federated agreements with Google, for instance, YouTube, Upwork, and numerous other applications.

All they need to remember is their Google credentials, which will act as a standalone login system for many other applications.


Just-in-time access permission management


  • Is SSO Federated Access?

    Yes, single sign-on (SSO) works similarly to federation access and hence, is also known as Federated single sign-on (SSO).

    Federated Single sign-on (SSO) allows cloud identity account users to smoothly access services provided by one or more partner organizations without requiring a separate login credential at the partner’s site.

    In a federated partner relationship, there are two unique roles for two different parties involved, i.e., service provider (SP) and identity provider (IdP). So, the IdP provides a unique digital token verified and authenticated by an SP. Once done, a session is created, allowing the user to access the application.

  • What is the difference between SSO and Federation?

    Essentially, there’s no difference between the two and SSO inherently fits within the broader model of Federated identity management (FIM).

    SSO allows users to access different systems within an organization using a single authorization code. In contrast, a federated identity management system allows them access to multiple systems across different organizations.

    Both tools, however, are crucial in securing organization data and reducing threats that will adversely affect the user experience.

  • What is Federated SSO Salesforce?

    Federated authentication allows users to log in once and access multiple applications. It refers to developing a trusted relationship between different organizations and third parties, which enables them to share authentication keys, and identities, and grant user access to different resources.

    For example, you can login to your Salesforce org account and then can gain access to different organization applications.

  • How does the Federation Work?

    It’s a process where one single system is responsible for user authentication. When a user accesses a different application, the system sends a message to verify their authentication. The single standalone system is referred to as the identity provider (IdP), while the application service being provided is known as the service provider.

    So, when a user clicks on a federated single sign-on URL, a digital sign token is created by the IdP, which is sent to the SP for verification.

    The best part about the federation is that it can support multiple federation partners. However, connection details describing federation properties must be clearly defined for each federated sign-on URL.

  • What is Federated Access?

    Federated access, also known as federated identity management or federated authentication, is a method of providing secure access to multiple interconnected systems or services using a single set of credentials. It enables users to access various applications, systems, or resources across different organizations or domains without the need for separate user accounts and passwords for each service.

    In a federated access model, trust is established between participating organizations or service providers. This trust allows the sharing of user authentication and authorization information in a standardized and secure manner. The process typically involves the following entities:

    1. Identity Providers (IdPs): These are organizations or systems that authenticate and verify the identity of users. They issue digital identity credentials or tokens upon successful authentication, which contain information about the user and their permissions.

    2. Service Providers (SPs): These are the applications, systems, or resources that users want to access. They rely on the identity providers to authenticate users and receive identity tokens or assertions.

    3. Users: They are individuals who require access to the services provided by the service providers. Users authenticate themselves with their identity provider, which then vouches for their identity to the service providers.

    The federated access process typically involves the following steps:

    1. User initiates access: The user attempts to access a service provided by the service provider.

    2. Redirect to the identity provider: The service provider redirects the user to the appropriate identity provider, indicating the desired service.

    3. User authentication: The user enters their credentials (such as username and password) at the identity provider’s login page, proving their identity.

    4. Identity provider issues a token: Upon successful authentication, the identity provider generates a security token or assertion containing information about the user and their permissions.

    5. Token exchange: The user’s web browser or client application forwards the token to the service provider.

    6. Service provider validates the token: The service provider validates the received token with the issuing identity provider to ensure its authenticity and integrity.

    7. User access granted: If the token is valid and the user is authorized to access the requested service, the service provider grants access and the user can utilize the service.

    Federated access offers several benefits, including improved user experience, reduced administrative overhead, and enhanced security. Users can conveniently access multiple services with a single set of credentials, and organizations can streamline user management processes while maintaining control over access privileges.


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  • What is AWS Federation?

    To accomplish least privilege in AWS, it’s essential for companies to first enable federated access via the IAM Identity Center. Enabling this allows the admin the ability to control access to resources for users already managed in the company’s identity provider.  

    In this post, we discuss how federation in AWS creates permission and security challenges, in addition to the solutions needed to combat them.   

    What is AWS Federation?

    The AWS IAM Identity Center helps companies define federated access permissions for users based on their group memberships in a single centralized directory. It’s a trust-based system between two parties with the purpose of verifying users’ identities and sharing necessary information to authorize their access to resources. Within this system, an identity provider (IdP) handles user authentication, while a service provider (SP), such as an application or service, controls resource access. 

    Through administrative agreement and configuration, the SP places trust in the IdP to authenticate users and relies on the provided information about them. Once a user is authenticated, the IdP sends the SP an assertion message, which includes the user’s sign-in name and other attributes required by the SP to establish a user session and determine the level of resource access to grant. Federation is a commonly used approach to construct access control systems that centralize user management within a central IdP and govern user access to multiple applications and services serving as SPs.

    Why is AWS IAM Federation Important?

    Federation is a best practice for many reasons: first of all, it makes it much easier for system admins to manage identities and entitlements. Instead of managing more entities (i.e. a new IAM User for each user) on top of the already existing ones in the IdP – users are managed in a single location. Information about users from the IdP (e.g. assignment to groups / roles and other attributes) could also be used to establish access policies. This doesn’t only save time, but also helps avoid configuration mistakes which could result in security vulnerabilities. Additionally, you provide human users a far better access experience with an SSO log-in mechanism, which removes the need for more passwords (also a security benefit).

    What are Some Problems with the AWS IAM Federation? 

    In IAM federation, the roles used to allow federated users access to AWS resources are static, so excessive permissions assigned to a single Role would mean excessive permissions to ALL users who have assumed that role for access to your cloud resources.

    • Over-privileges

    As entitlements in AWS are highly complicated to manage and business operations usually trump security best practices (if they are even considered) – excessive, sometimes absolute permissions to resources are not uncommon in many AWS environments.

    • Standing Permissions

    Permissions are usually quick to be granted as needed – but are not so quickly taken away when no longer necessary. This kind of privilege accumulation might cause a security audit failure, or worst yet – a security breach. 


    Scenario: A user finds out she needs access to additional resources in the cloud environment in addition to needing the ability to perform additional actions on resources she already has access to. She contacts the administrator and that person decides the request is legitimate for her but not for anyone else who shares the same Role.

    Outcome: Since Federation is based on Groups within the IDP, it’s impossible to provision elevated permissions for just one user, so instead, permissions are granted to everyone in the Role, whether they need them or not.

    Apono Outcome: When she contacts the administrator, he quickly provides her with the elevated access she needs without giving it to anyone else. To avoid any chance of standing permissions, he already provisioned an end date. After the time period, she is granted back her normal permissions.

    What Are the Available Solutions?

    Apono integrates with AWS natively, which allows you to manage access to your S3 buckets, IAM roles and groups, EC2, EKS clusters, RDS instances and many more.