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security : access controls

An access control list (ACL) is a table that tells a computer operating system which access rights each user has to a particular system object, such as a file directory or individual file.

Each object has a security attribute that identifies its access control list.

The list has an entry for each system user with access privileges.

The most common privileges include the ability to read a file (or all the files in a directory), to write to the file or files, and to execute the file (if it is an executable file, or program). Microsoft Windows NT/2000, Novell's NetWare, Digital's OpenVMS, and UNIX-based systems are among the operating systems that use access control lists.

The list is implemented differently by each operating system.

In Windows NT/2000, an access control list (ACL) is associated with each system object.

Each ACL has one or more access control entries (ACEs) consisting of the name of a user or group of users. The user can also be a role name, such as "programmer", or "tester".

For each of these users, groups, or roles, the access privileges are stated in a string of bits called an access mask. Generally, the system administrator or the object owner creates the access control list for an object.

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I was talking with Toby Weiss, from CA last week. He’s senior vice president of eTrust security management, the man responsible for the various identity management offerings from what is, arguably, the company longest in the field - at least if you trace their products lineage. We’d last spoken about 18 months ago, right after CA had acquired Netegrity. At the time, I worried that either CA’s traditional enterprise clients or Netegrity’s SMB focused clients might feel short-changed by the merger. Weiss believed that CA could successfully merge the technologies while keeping existing customers of both companies happy. As I said then, “Time will tell.� And it has.

Last week I recounted the "Parker Brothers" analogy from Toby Weiss, CA's senior vice president of eTrust security management. He said that putting together an identity management plan was like a game of Monopoly - you need all the properties (i.e., "applications") to be in the same color group (i.e., single-vendor suite) before you can build hotels (i.e., reap big ROI). That set off some speculation in my inbox as well as a lot of nostalgia as people reminisced about various Monopoly boards they've played on over the years - Collector's Paradise claims to sell more than 150 different ones!

Gartner has just released another of its "Magic Quadrant" reports, this one on user provisioning services.

I spent last week in Boston for Courion's annual "Converge" meeting for its customers and partners. It was an interesting week, as always (this was my third visit to the event) and I'll touch on some of the highlights over the next few issues. But to start, I want to continue a bit on the "Parker Brothers" analogy for identity management projects.

Banks can enhance their reputation for security by acting as custodians for personal identity credentials designed to make identity theft difficult.

The benefit of, or even the need for, roles was a major theme at last week's Converge conference, which Courion puts on annually for its customers and partners. What was most fascinating to me, though, was the strong undercurrent to the presentations at the previous Converge events I've attended - as well as at most identity management related events I've been to in the past few years - getting corporate buy-in.

Symantec is considering developing a service that would position the company as a third-party broker of identity management services for the Internet.

PingIdentity this week is expected to add support for additional identity protocols to its software and introduce a new middleware product to tie Web-based applications into corporate authentication deployments.

Targeting companies looking for more secure authentication systems, Ping Identity Monday announced two products addressing identity federation and secure single sign-on.

An identity management vendor I wasn't at all familiar with is Berlin's Beta Systems Software. It showed up in the "Challengers" section of the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant report on provisioning, grouped loosely with HP, Siemens and M-Tech.

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