Use employee attributes from Okta to Build Trust with Cryptographically Verifiable Credentials
Authenticate and authorize every access decision
Modern applications are distributed and have an unwieldy number of interconnections that must trustfully exchange data and instructions.
Authentication is a process where one entity gains assurances about the attributes of another entity. In other words, it is a process of proving that you are who you say you are.
Authorization is the process of deciding if a request to access a resource should be granted. In other words, it is a process that grants you the permission to do the "thing" that you are attempting to do.
In order to trust information or instructions that are received over the network, applications must authenticate all senders and verify the integrity of data received to assert what was received is exactly what was sent — free from errors or en-route tampering.
Applications must also decide if a sender of a request is authorized to trigger the requested action or view the requested data.
In scenarios where human users are authenticating with cloud services, we have some mature protocols like OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect (OIDC) that help tackle parts of the problem.
However, the majority of data that flows within modern applications doesn’t involve humans. Microservices interact with other microservices, devices interact with other devices and cloud services, internal services interact with partner systems and infrastructure services, etc.
Secure by-design applications must ensure that all machine-to-machine application layer communication is authenticated and authorized. For this, applications must prove identifiers and attributes.
Ockam allows workforce identities in Okta to be combined with application identities in Ockam to bring policy driven, attribute-based access control of distributed applications – using cryptographically verifiable credentials.
Please click the diagram to see a bigger version.
A subject’s request to perform an operation on a resource is granted or denied based on attributes of the subject, attributes of the operation, attributes of the resource, and attributes of the environment. Access is controlled using policies that are defined in terms of those attributes.
For most enterprises, workforce identities are already defined in enterprise identity systems like Okta. Ockam Orchestrator offers an Okta Add-On that uses OIDC to allow enterprise employees to get Ockam credentials using their regular corporate login.
Their user profile information like department, city, team, etc. is included in the credential and securely attested by the Credential Authority.
This combination is incredibly powerful. It allows employees to get just-in-time, short lived, fine-grained revocable credentials to only the application components that they need to access. It eliminates long lived static keys and credentials from being stored on work machines.