3. Glossary

Table 3.1. Definitions of terms used within this manual

AssertionA part of SAML message (an XML document) which provides facts about subject of the assertion (typically about the authenticated user). Assertions can contain information about authentication, associated attributes or authorization decisions.
ArtifactIdentifier which can be used to retrieve a complete SAML message from identity or service provider using a back-channel binding.
BindingMechanism used to deliver SAML message. Bindings are divided to front-channel bindings which use web-browser of the user for message delivery (e.g. HTTP-POST or HTTP-Redirect) and back-channel bindings where identity provider and service provider communicate directly (e.g. using SOAP calls in Artifact binding).
DiscoveryMechanism used to determine which identity provider should be used to authenticate user currently interacting with the service provider.
MetadataDocument describing one or multiple identity and service providers. Metadata typically includes entity identifier, public keys, endpoint URLs, supported bindings and profiles, and other capabilities or requirements. Exchange of metadata between identity and service providers is typically the first step for establishment of federation.
ProfileStandardized combination of protocols, assertions, bindings and processing instructions used to achieve a particular use-case such as single sign-on, single logout, discovery, artifact resolution.
ProtocolDefinition of format (schema) for SAML messages used to achieve particular functionality such as requesting authentication from IDP, performing single logout or requesting attributes from IDP.
Identity provider (IDP)Entity which knows how to authenticate users and provides information about their identity to service providers/relaying parties using federation protocols.
Service provider (SP)Your application which communicates with the identity provider in order to obtain information about the user it interacts with. User information such as authentication state and user attributes is provided in form of security assertions.
Single Sign-On (SSO)Process enabling access to multiple web sites without need to repeatedly present credentials necessary for authentication. Various federation protocols such as SAML, WS-Federation, OpenID or OAuth can be used to achieve SSO use-cases. Information such as means of authentication, user attributes, authorization decisions or security tokens are typically provided to the service provider as part of single sign-on.
Single Logout (SLO)Process terminating authenticated sessions at all resources which were accessed using single sign-on. Techniques such as redirecting user to each of the SSO participants or sending a logout SOAP messages are typically used.