12 April, 2020

SAML Setup

SAML is an XML-based open standard data format for exchanging authentication and authorization data between parties known as an identity provider and a service provider. For more fundamental information on SAML and Liferay DXP, refer to the SAML introduction.
An identity provider is a trusted provider that provides single sign-on for users to access other websites. A service provider is a website that hosts applications and grants access only to identified users with proper credentials. SAML is maintained by the [OASIS Security Services Technical Committee](https://www.oasis-open.org/ committees/security/). for more information. Liferay Portal 6.1 EE and later versions support SAML 2.0 integration via the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider application. It is provided from Liferay Marketplace and allows Liferay DXP to act as a SAML 2.0 identity provider or as a service provider.
Important: You can set Liferay DXP up as an Identity Provider or as a Service Provider. Each single Liferay DXP instance can serve as an identity provider or as a service provider, but not both. Both configurations are covered in this article.

Setting up Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider

To set Liferay DXP up to act as a SAML Identity Provider, follow these steps:
  1. Install the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider app. To access the SAML Admin interface, click on Control PanelConfiguration and then on SAML Admin.
  2. To begin configuring Liferay DXP to use SAML, select a SAML role for Liferay DXP and choose an entity ID.
    saml-initial-config.png
    Figure 1: Select a SAML role for Liferay and enter an entity ID.
    Select the Identity Provider SAML role. Enter liferaysamlidp if you’re setting up an example Liferay DXP instance. Alternatively, choose your own entity ID. Then click Save. A new Certificate and Private Key section appears.
  3. The Certificate and Private Key section lets you create a keystore for SAML. Enter the following information:
    • Your common name (your first and last name)
    • The name of your organization
    • The name of your organizational unit
    • The name of your city or locality
    • The name of your state or province
    • The name of your country
    • The length in days that your keystore will remain valid (how long before the keystore expires)
    • The key algorithm (RSA is the default)
    • The key length in bits (2048 is the default)
    • The key password
    If you’re making a test configuration, use the password liferay. When you enter all the required information, click Save.
    Note that the SAML keystore is created by the SAML plugin’s keystore manager. This keystore has two storage options:
    • In the file system
    • In the Documents and Media library
    File system storage is used by default:
    saml.keystore.manager.impl=com.liferay.saml.credential.FileSystemKeyStoreManagerImpl
    
    The default location is the [Liferay Home]/data directory.
    To use the Documents and Media library, use this property:
    saml.keystore.manager.impl=com.liferay.saml.credential.DLKeystoreManagerImpl
    
    The great thing about the Docs and Media storage is that you can use any number of back end file stores. These are protected not only by the system in which you’re storing the key, but also by Liferay DXP’s permissions system.
  4. After you click Save, you can click Replace Certificate at any time to replace the current certificate with a new one if your old one has expired or if you want to change the key’s password.
    saml-keystore-info.png
    Figure 2: The General tab of the SAML Admin portlet displays information about the current certificate and private key and allows administrators to download the certificate or replace the certificate.
    Three more tabs now appear:
    • General This tab enables or disables SAML IdP and manages the required keystore.
    • Identity Provider
      This tab contains other required configurations such as whether to enable SSL. If SSL has been enabled, then SAML requests are not approved unless they are also encrypted.
    • Service Provider Connections
      This tab manages any Service Providers connected to this Liferay DXP instance. See below for more information.
  5. After you save your certificate and private key information, check the Enabled box at the top of the General tab and click Save. You successfully set Liferay DXP up as a SAML Identity Provider!

Changing the Identity Provider Settings

To configure Liferay DXP’s SAML Identity Provider Settings, navigate to the Identity Provider tab of the SAML Admin Control Panel entry.
The Identity Provider tab includes these options:
Sign Metadata: When this box is checked, the metadata XML file that’s produced is signed.
SSL Required: When this box is checked, any SAML messages that are not sent over SSL are rejected. This does not affect how URLs are generated.
Authn Request Signature Required: When this box is checked, each Authn Request must be signed by the sending Service Provider. In most cases, this should be enabled.
Session Maximum Age: Specify the maximum duration of the SAML SSO session in seconds. If this property is not set or is set to 0, the SSO session has an unlimited duration. The SSO session maximum duration can be longer than the portal session maximum duration. If the portal session expires before the SSO session expires, the user is logged back in to Liferay DXP automatically. SSO session expiration does not trigger a single logout from all service providers. You can use the session maximum age, for example, to force users to sign in again after a certain period of time.
Session Timeout: Specify the maximum idle time of the SAML SSO session. Even if the session maximum age is unlimited, the SSO session expires whenever the user’s idle time reaches the limit set by the session timeout property.
Service Provider Defaults: The options in this section set defaults that are used when adding new service provider connections.

Checkpoint

Before adding a Service Provider (SP), verify you’ve completed these tasks:
  1. A SAML keystore has been generated. It can be stored in one of two locations: the data folder or in the Documents and Media library.
  2. On the Identity Provider tab, the following settings have been set:
    a. Sign Metadata has been checked.
    b. SSL Required - checked if SSL is active elsewhere. SSL is disabled by default.
    c. Authn Request Signature Required: has been checked.
    d. Session Maximum Age: has been set. If set to 0, then the SSO has an unlimited duration.
    e. Session Timeout: Specify the maximum idle time of the SAML SSO session.
  3. Once the Enabled checkbox has been checked, the IdP is now live, and you can generate the required metadata. This URL is the default location of Liferay DXP’s metadata XML file:
    [host]:[port]/c/portal/saml/metadata 
    
If this URL does not display correctly, then the SAML instance has not been enabled. Use the URL or click Save in the browser to generate an actual XML file.

Adding a SAML Service Provider

Of course, setting up Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider is only useful if you can connect to one or more SAML Service Providers. Navigate to the Service Provider Connections tab of the SAML Admin Control Panel entry and click the Add Service Provider button to add a SAML Service Provider.
The New Service Provider page includes these options:
Name: The name of the Service Provider with which to connect.
Entity ID: The Service Provider’s entity ID. This value must match the entity ID declared in the Service Provider metadata.
Enabled: When this box is checked, the Service Provider connection is active.
Assertion Lifetime: Defines the number of seconds after which the SAML assertion issued by the Identity Provider should be considered expired.
Metadata: You can either provide a URL to the Service Provider metadata XML file or you can manually upload the Service Provider metadata XML file. If you provide a URL, the XML file is automatically retrieved and periodically polled for updates. The update interval can be configured in portlet.properties with the saml.metadata.refresh.interval property which specifies a number of seconds. If fetching the metadata XML file by URL fails, you can’t enable the Service Provider connection. If the Identity Provider server cannot access the metadata via URL, you can upload the XML file manually. In this case, the metadata XML file is not updated automatically.
Name Identifier Format: Choose the Name Identifier Format used in the SAML Response. This should be set according to what the Service Provider expects to receive. For Liferay Service Providers, any selection other than email address indicates that the Name Identifier refers to screen name. The formats don’t have any special meaning to Liferay Identity Providers. The NameID value is defined by the Name Identifier attribute. See the next option.
Name Identifier Attribute Name: This specifies which attribute of the Liferay DXP User object to use as the NameID value. Possible values include emailAddress, screenName and uuid. Additionally, you can prefix the name with static: or expando:. If you use the prefix static, the value is whatever comes after static:. If you use the prefix expando, the value is whatever custom field is specified after expando:. For example, expando:SSN would look up the User custom field with the name SSN.
Attributes Namespace Enabled: When this box is checked, the attribute names are namespaced like this:
urn:liferay:user:expando:
urn:liferay:user:
urn:liferay:groups:
urn:liferay:organizationRole:
urn:liferay:organization:
urn:liferay:roles:
urn:liferay:siteRole:
urn:liferay:userGroupRole:
urn:liferay:userGroups:
Note that the full namespace depends on the attribute name. The namespaces are useful; for example, when you have an Expando attribute that might otherwise create an attribute with the same name as some other attribute.

Checkpoint

If a Liferay DXP instance is the SAML IdP, it can connect to multiple SPs. The converse, however, is not true: SPs connect to only one IdP. Verify that your settings are correct for the first SP before proceeding to add more SPs.
  1. Provide a general name for the SP.
  2. The Entity ID name must be identical to the one declared in the Service Provider metadata.
  3. Check the Enabled checkbox.
  4. Set a value for the Assertion Lifetime.
  5. Make sure the SP’s metadata has been provided either as a URL or an XML file has been uploaded.
  6. Make sure Name Identifier Format and Name Identifier Attribute Name have been set.
  7. Make sure Attributes Namespace Enabled has been set.
If you don’t have a Service Provider to add right now, that’s fine. In the next section, you’ll learn how to set Liferay DXP up as a SAML Service Provider. After you set up another Liferay DXP instance as a Service Provider, come back to this Liferay DXP installation and add the Service Provider: Control PanelSAML AdminService Provider ConnectionsAdd Service Provider.

Setting up Liferay DXP as a SAML Service Provider

Many of these steps are similar to configuring Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider. As a reminder, a single Liferay DXP installation can be configured as a SAML Identify Provider or as a SAML Service Provider but not as both. If you already set up one Liferay DXP installation as a SAML Identity Provider, use a different Liferay DXP installation as a SAML Service Provider.
  1. Install the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider app. To confirm that the app was successfully deployed, look for the SAML Admin entry in the Configuration section of the Control Panel.
  2. To begin configuring Liferay DXP to use SAML, you must select a SAML role for Liferay DXP and you need to choose an entity ID. Select the Service Provider SAML role. Enter liferaysamlsp if you’re setting up an example Liferay DXP installation. Alternatively, choose your own entity ID. Then click Save and a new section entitled Certificate and Private Key appears.
  3. The Certificate and Private Key is for creating a keystore for SAML. Enter the following information:
    • Your common name (your first and last name)
    • The name of your organization
    • The name of your organizational unit
    • The name of your city or locality
    • The name of your state or province
    • The name of your country
    • The length in days that your keystore will remain valid (how long before the keystore expires)
    • The key algorithm (RSA is the default)
    • The key length in bits (2048 is the default)
    • The key password
    If you’re configuring an example setup, use the password liferay. When you enter all the required information, click Save.
  4. After you clicked Save, check that you can view information about your certificate or download your certificate. If you can, you successfully created a keystore. After you create a keystore, additional options appear. There are three tabs:
    • General This tab enables or disables SAML IdP and manages the required keystore.
    • Service Provider (not Identity Provider!)
      This tab manages basic and advanced configurations for the SP.
    • Identity Provider Connection (not Service Provider Connections!) This tab manages connections to the IdP. There can be only one IdP connection.
    Note that these options are different than if you were setting up Liferay DXP as an Identity Provider.
  5. Next, you need to configure an Identity Provider connection. Click on the Identity Provider Connection tab. Enter a name for the Identity Provider, enter its entity ID, and enter its metadata URL. If you have already followed the previous instructions and configured a separate Liferay DXP installation as an Identify provider, you’d enter the following information:
    Important: The Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider plugin supports using either a URL to a SAML IdP metadata file or an actual (uploaded) SAML metadata XML file. The value entered in the Metadata URL field will only be persisted to the database when there is one entered metadata URL and there is no specified metadata XML file. Otherwise, Liferay DXP keeps the original metadata URL in the database. This behavior ensures that once a metadata URL has been specified, there will always be a metadata URL saved in the database. This way, if a portal administrator forgets the previously entered metadata URL or its format, he or she can simply look at the displayed metadata URL and either choose to modify the displayed metadata URL or to overwrite the previously saved metadata URL by specifying a metadata XML file.
    Currently, the SAML Provider plugin does not provide a way to “clear” the SAML IdP metadata URL or metadata XML file fields using the Control Panel UI. If you really need to clear these fields, it’s possible (but not recommended) to delete the contents of the SAML IdP metadata URL and metadata XML file columns of the SamlSpIdpConnection table of Liferay DXP’s database.
  6. Finally, after you save your certificate and private key information and configure an Identity Provider connection, check the Enabled box at the top of the General tab and click Save. Liferay DXP is now a SAML Service Provider!
Note that the SAML Service Provider session is tied to the normal session on the application server. Session expiration on the application server terminates the session on the Service Provider but does not initiate single logout.

Checkpoint


  1. A SAML keystore has been generated.
  2. Verify the connection to the IdP.
    a. Name: generic name for the IdP.
    b. Entity ID: the same name of the IdP. If the IdP is another Liferay DXP instance, then it is the same name as the above example.
    c. Metadata URL: The IdP’s metadata as a URL or as an XML file.
  3. On the General tab, the Enabled checkbox has been checked.
  4. Once Enabled checkbox has been checked, the service provider’s metadata becomes available:
    [host]:[port]/c/portal/saml/metadata
    

Changing the SAML Service Provider Settings

If you’d like to configure Liferay DXP’s SAML Service Provider Settings, navigate to the Service Provider tab of the SAML Admin portlet.
The Service Provider tab includes these options:
Assertion Signature Required: When this box is checked, SAML assertions must be individually signed in addition to the entire SAML message.
Clock Skew: Clock skew is a tolerance in milliseconds used by the Service Provider for verifying expiration of messages and assertions. This can be used to mitigate time differences between the clocks of the Identity Provider and the Service Provider. This usually only matters when assertions have been made to expire very quickly.
LDAP Import Enabled: When this box is checked, user information is imported from the configured LDAP connection based on the resolved NameID. LDAP connections can be configured from Portal Settings.
Sign Authn Requests: When this box is checked, the AuthnRequest is signed even if the Identity Provider metadata indicates that it’s not required.
Sign Metadata: When this box is checked, the metadata XML file is signed.
SSL Required: When this box is checked, any SAML messages that are not sent over HTTPS are rejected. This does not affect how URLs are generated.
The Identity Provider Connection page includes these options:
Name: The name of the Identity Provider with which to connect.
Entity ID: The Identity Provider’s entity ID. This value must match the entity ID declared in the Identity Provider metadata.
Clock Skew: Clock skew is a tolerance in milliseconds used by the Service Provider for verifying expiration of messages and assertions. This can be used to mitigate time differences between the clocks of the Identity Provider and the Service Provider. This usually only matters when assertions have been made to expire very quickly.
Force Authn: When this box is checked, the Service Provider asks the Identity Provider to re-authenticate the user before verifying the user.
Metadata: You can either provide a URL to the Identity Provider metadata XML file or you can manually upload it. If you provide a URL, the XML file is automatically retrieved and periodically polled for updates. You can change the update interval in portlet.properties by modifying the saml.metadata.refresh.interval property which specifies a number of seconds. If fetching the metadata XML file by URL fails, you can’t enable the Identity Provider connection. If the metadata is inaccessible via URL, you can upload the XML file manually. In this case, the metadata XML file is not updated automatically.
Attribute Mapping: The attribute mapping is done from the attribute name or friendly name in the SAML Response to the Liferay DXP attribute name. For example, if you want to map a response attribute named mail to the Liferay DXP attribute emailAddress, you’d enter the following mapping:
mail=emailAddress
Available Liferay DXP attributes are: emailAddress, screenName, firstName, lastName, modifiedDate, and uuid.
Save your changes when you are finished configuring the Liferay DXP instance as a service provider. There is no need to restart the server and the changes will be applied immediately.
The previous two sections explained how to use the SAML 2.0 Provider EE plugin’s Control Panel interface to configure Liferay DXP as an Identity Provider or as a Service Provider. Such configurations should only be made through the SAML Control Panel interface and not via properties. Some features of the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider plugin are not available as properties.

Setting Up Liferay DXP as a SAML Service Provider in a Clustered Environment

If you want to use the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider app as an SSO solution for a clustered Liferay DXP environment, follow the steps in this section. Before proceeding, make sure that the following assumptions apply to your scenario.
Suppose that your clustered Liferay DXP environment consists of multiple Liferay DXP nodes that sit behind a load balancer. Your Liferay DXP nodes could be Liferay DXP Tomcat bundles, for example. Your load balancer could be software like Apache web server or hardware like F5 BIG-IP. Suppose further that you want want the nodes of your Liferay DXP cluster to serve as SAML Service Providers. And suppose that you have a third-party participating as the SAML Identity Provider. (For testing purposes, you could create a separate Liferay DXP installation to serve as the SAML IdP.)
If your situation fits the scenario described above, follow these steps:
  1. Configure each node of your Liferay DXP cluster as a SAML service provider using the instructions of the previous section.
  2. Copy the keystore file ([Liferay Home]/data/keystore.jks, by default) from the first Liferay DXP node to the remaining Liferay DXP nodes. This file is the Java keystore that’s created by the SAML Provider plugin. The keystore contains the valid or self-signed certificate managed by the SAML Provider plugin.
    Note: The keystore file and its default location can vary according to the keystore manager defined by the saml.keystore.manager.impl property. Here’s the relevant section of the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider plugin’s portlet.properties file:
    #
    # Set the name of a class that implements
    # com.liferay.saml.credential.KeyStoreManager. This class is used to load and
    # save the keystore.
    #
    #saml.keystore.manager.impl=com.liferay.saml.credential.DLKeyStoreManagerImpl
    saml.keystore.manager.impl=com.liferay.saml.credential.FileSystemKeyStoreManagerImpl
    
  3. Verify that the service provider metadata has been generated to be used either as a URL or an XML file. The metadata is the same for all nodes because of the same database back-end. The IdP’s request goes through the load balancer.
  4. At this point, all the Liferay DXP nodes have the same SAML SP configuration and each of them can respond to web requests and handle the SAML protocol. To test your SSO solution, sign into Liferay DXP via your load balancer, navigate to a few pages of a few different sites, and then log out.
Now you know how to configure Liferay DXP either as a SAML identity provider or a service provider. You also know how to configure SAML in a clustered environment.

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