SharePoint Security And Authentication Part 2 – User Management

The proper management of user identity information is very important for any organization deploying SharePoint. SharePoint Server 2010 makes it very easy to process user credentials and identifiers. This can also naturally help you to decide which method of authentication is best for your purposes. User identity information is processed in several ways based on category. They include:

  • Binary ID’s This is where ID’s are created in SharePoint Server 2010. A unique binary ID can be created with the provider name and the user name.
  • Cache This is the process of storing the identity of a user for a period of time. By doing so the process of authentication each time they make a request can be avoided. A cookie that is encrypted will keep the credentials for the user during a given session.
  • Role membership There can be different roles or groups that a given user belongs to. That information is also important during the authorization process. It is used to determine which actions a user is allows to access and perform. Both ASP.NET and Active Directory groups are considers to be the same in SharePoint Server 2010.

SharePoint Server 2010 provides a majority of the tooling or relevant API hooks to handle user accounts and to successfully manage them. The way you select for that management to occur can be influential for your authentication method decision. When users are members of a zone, their accounts can still be managed across all zones with the right permissions being granted. It is important to keep in mind all of these elements of user account management apply with SharePoint Server 2010. It doesn’t matter which is the authentication methods you select.

You can add new users from any zone for any authentication method that you have configured. However, the membership provider and role manager must first be registered with web.config file. SharePoint 2010 resolves the user name against sources:

  • UserInfoList table If a user has already been added to another site they will be found here.
  • Authentication Provider The configuration is for a current zone. That is where SharePoint Server 2010 will check for a membership provider first.
  • All other Authentication Providers If SharePoint Sever 2010 doesn’t find the membership in that current zone, it will look at all of the other authentication providers.

When any account is marked as deleted by the SharePoint Sever 2010 database they will be considered deleted. However, their record isn’t removed. Consider the fancy picture I have made below (select for an automagically larger image):

SharePoint Security Membership Provider

There are many instances when a user account behavior will change within SharePoint Server 2010. It will depend on what type of authentication the provider has in place what the appropriate response is. Understanding how those account tasks can be different with various authentication methods in place is important. They include:

  • Adding new users The user identity is validated using AD DS. SharePoint Server 2010 calls the membership provider and the role manager for verification of that both the user and the roles exist.
  • Changing Logon names When such updates are made they should be immediately recognized by SharePoint Server 2010. However, for this to occur you must delete the old account name and then add a new one.
  • Logging on A user doesn’t have to manually long on to SharePoint sites as long as Kerberos or NTLM is used. The browser also has to be configured for an automated log on to occur. When logging on is required, the user will need to enter a user name and password. This is a standard format for SharePoint Server 2010. Once the log on information is validated a cookie will be issued.

Next we will be talking about claims based authentication. For a refresher, there are about 20 claims articles already written for you review on the site: