Netegrity releases SAML agent

A new software application by Netegrity Inc. is intended to make it easier for organizations to securely exchange user-identity and sign-on information using SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language).

The Waltham, Mass.-based company announced the new tool, called the Netegrity SAML Affiliate Agent, Monday.

The Agent is designed to run on the servers that support business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) sites as well as corporate intranets. The lightweight application will make it easier for companies to share user and sign-on information between their Web sites regardless of the technology infrastructure being used on each side of a transaction, according to Bill Bartow, vice president of products at Netegrity.

SAML is an XML (Extensible Markup Language ) standard for exchanging login information between distinct Web sites, for example as part of B2B or B2C transactions.

Netegrity’s SiteMinder version 5.5 access management product already supports the SAML specification adopted by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) in November 2002, enabling SiteMinder customers to create an SAML-based identity and share it with a partner Web site, according to Netegrity.

With the new agent, partner sites that are not using SiteMinder will more easily be able to recognize and authenticate that SAML identity from sites that are, Netegrity said.

For example, U.S. employees looking for 401K information could have their login credentials passed from their employer’s Web site to the 401K provider’s Web site without requiring the employee to log in separately to that site, Netegrity said.

In addition to processing the login information, the SAML Affiliate Agent also allows the 401K provider to send a notification back to the employer about sensitive modifications that the employee made, according to Netegrity.

The SAML Affiliate Agent also manages critical sign-off as users move from partner site to partner site, terminating sessions that might otherwise be left open after a user clicks away from a Web site or logs off.

The Agent will eliminate the need for custom development by companies wishing to link Internet and Web-based services. And, by allowing one set of user credentials to be used across sites, the SAML Agent will reduce the cost of user administration and make it easier to enable and disable user access to partner sites, Netegrity said.

The announcement from Netegrity is just the latest from the identity management arena, as companies rush to offer standards-based technologies that will simplify the process of managing identities between organizations that are sharing applications and services.