With Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 the legacy single sign on feature has been replaced. The Secure Store Service (SSS) has been introduced to offer a claims authorization service. This includes a database that is secure for the use of storing credentials associated with any given application identification.
The application identification can be used to authorize access to external data sources. As you learn about the Secure Store Service, how to prepare it, ID’s, mapping, and claims authentication you will quickly realize what a valuable access it happens to be.
The Secure Store Service is a type of service that allows for authorization to be conducted on the application server in the SharePoint server farm. This provides a database that is used for credentials to be securely stored though the use of password and identity verification of the user. With SharePoint Server 2010 there is the use of the Secure Store Database. It is used to store and to retrieve credentials for accessing external data sources. The Secure Store Service also provides support for the storage of credentials to multiple back end systems. They can have multiple application ID’s too.
There are some very important issues that you need to take into consideration when you are preparing for the Secure Storage Service to be implemented. You need to run the Secure Store Service in an application that isn’t being used for any other services, this is both a logical and technical restraint. You need to create the Secure Store Service database on an application that is running SQL server. You don’t want to use the same SQL server application though that is being used for your content database. Prior to generating your new key for encrypting, you need to back up the Secure Store Service database. It is recommended that you do so right after it is created too. Each time you create a new key, you want those credentials to be encrypted again with it. You never want the key refresh to fail as this can result in the credentials failing to allow you to have access. Never store the backup media to the encrypted key in the same location as the backup for the Secure Store Service database. This is an additional layer of protection that can prevent your database information from being compromised by an unauthorized user.
There are application ID’s for each of the Secure Storage Service entries. They are used to retrieve a given set of credentials from the Secure Store Database. Each of the application ID’s can be set up with given permissions that have to be applied. This will restrict the users or groups that are able to successfully access those credentials stored within the application ID. The application can be used to retrieve a given data source. These application ID’s are also used to map out users within given sets of credentials. It can be set up for mapping to occur both for individuals and for groups. With individual mapping each user has their own set of credentials that are different from others. If there is a group then each user that belongs to that group gets mapped with the same credentials.
There are individual mappings and group mapping to consider. The Secure Store Service supports both of them and maintains credentials for the application ID’s of the resources that are stored in the Secure Store database. With individual credentials of an application, they are retrieved from the application ID. This type of individual mapping is beneficial when a user logs in using information to personally identify themselves. With group mapping there is a layer of security in place that will check the credentials of the group. It will look for multiple domain users and compare them to a given set of credentials that are in place to identify a application ID which is stored in the Secure Store database. It is easier to maintain group mapping versus individual mappings so keep that in mind if you are after optimal performance.
Claims authentication can occur within Secure Store Service. It is able to accept security tokens and to decipher the encrypted application ID. From there it is able to look up the information for verification of authentication. With SharePoint Server Security Token Service, a token is created in response to a request for authentication. The Secure Store Service deciphers the token so that it can successfully read the value of the application ID. The Secure Store Service uses that application ID in order to successfully retrieve the credentials that are in the Secure Store database. These credentials will be used to authorize access to the various resources offered.