What is SAML protocol?

SAML, which stands for Security Assertion Markup Language, is an XML-based open standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between identity providers (IdPs) and service providers (SPs). It enables single sign-on (SSO) functionality, allowing users to authenticate once with an identity provider and then access multiple service providers without needing to re-enter their credentials.

Here are the key components and concepts of SAML:

1. Identity Provider (IdP): The identity provider is responsible for authenticating users and issuing SAML assertions. It acts as a trusted authority that verifies the user’s identity and provides the necessary information to service providers.

2. Service Provider (SP): The service provider is the application or system that the user wants to access. It relies on the identity provider for user authentication and authorization.

3. SAML Assertion: A SAML assertion is an XML document that contains information about the user, such as their identity, attributes, and authentication status. It is digitally signed by the identity provider to ensure its integrity and authenticity.

4. SAML Request and Response: When a user tries to access a service provider, the service provider sends a SAML request to the identity provider, requesting authentication. The identity provider responds with a SAML response, which includes the SAML assertion containing the user’s information.

5. SAML Profiles: SAML defines different profiles that specify how SAML assertions and messages are exchanged between identity providers and service providers. The most commonly used profiles are the Web Browser SSO profile and the Single Logout profile.

SAML+ (SAML Plus) is an extension to the SAML protocol that enhances its functionality by adding support for additional features and use cases. SAML+ builds upon the core SAML protocol and introduces new capabilities, such as:

1. Enhanced Attribute Exchange: SAML+ allows for more flexible and granular exchange of user attributes between identity providers and service providers. It provides mechanisms for requesting and sharing additional user information beyond basic authentication data.

2. Fine-Grained Authorization: SAML+ introduces enhanced authorization capabilities, allowing service providers to make access control decisions based on user attributes and policies defined by the identity provider. This enables more sophisticated and dynamic authorization scenarios.

3. Delegated Authentication: SAML+ supports delegated authentication, where the identity provider can delegate the authentication process to another trusted party. This allows for more complex authentication flows and integration with external authentication systems.

SAML+ extends the capabilities of SAML and provides a more comprehensive solution for identity and access management. It offers enhanced flexibility, interoperability, and security for SSO and identity federation scenarios.