[Web4lib] NISO Publishes Recommended Practice on Single Sign-on Authentication

Cynthia Hodgson chodgson at niso.org
Mon Nov 7 11:11:23 EST 2011

NISO Publishes Recommended Practice on Single Sign-on Authentication
Identifies Needed Improvements for Users Authenticating to Licensed
Electronic Resources

Baltimore, MD, November 7, 2011 - The National Information Standards
Organization (NISO) announces the publication of a new Recommended Practice,
ESPReSSO: Establishing Suggested Practices Regarding Single Sign-On (NISO
RP-11-2011), that identifies practical solutions for improving the use of
single sign-on authentication technologies to ensure a seamless experience
for the user. This recommended practice is the result of the NISO Chair's
Initiative-a project of the chair of NISO's Board of Directors, focusing on
a specific issue that would benefit from study and the development of a
recommended practice or standard. Oliver Pesch, Chief Strategist for
E-Resource Access and Management Services at EBSCO Information Services and
the 2008-2009 Chair of NISO's Board of Directors, chose the issue of
standardizing seamless, item-level linking through single sign-on (SSO)
authentication technologies in a networked information environment, which
resulted in the formation of the ESPReSSO Working Group.

Currently a hybrid environment of authentication practices exists, including
older methods of userid/password, IP authentication, and/or proxy servers
along with newer federated authentication protocols such as Athens and
Shibboleth. The ESPReSSO recommended practice identifies changes that can be
made immediately to improve the authentication experience for the user, even
in a hybrid situation, while encouraging both publishers/service providers
and libraries to transition to the newer Security Assertion Markup Language
(SAML)-based authentication, such as Shibboleth.
"With the growing use of mobile devices and remote access, the older
authentication methods are not manageable for either the content provider or
the library," explains Steve Carmody, IT Architect, Computing and
Information Services, at Brown University and co-chair of the NISO ESPReSSO
Working Group. "The ESPReSSO recommendations will help bridge the transition
to more robust authentication methods that better match the needs of today's
users and eliminate the need for multiple identities."

"The growing use of web discovery services over the older federated search
method have only increased the need for single sign-on authentication and
consistency of access and context for the user," states Harry Kaplanian,
Director of Technology, Serials Solutions, Inc., and co-chair of the NISO
ESPReSSO Working Group. "With a discovery service portal, users are often
unaware that they will ultimately be accessing resources across a broad
spectrum of platforms and providers, and the multiple back-end logins that
occur can be both confusing and frustrating. In addition to addressing this
situation, the ESPReSSO recommendations also identify methods that can be
used to maintain users' privacy while still offering them advanced
functionality, such as saving searches between sessions."

"The ESPReSSO Working Group has produced a very forward-looking document,"
states Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO. "It provides
recommendations that can be implemented immediately in today's hybrid
environment and will also transition the community towards the preferred
single sign-on methodology."

The ESPReSSO Recommended Practice is available for free download from the
NISO website at: www.niso.org/publications/rp.

Cynthia Hodgson
Technical Editor / Consultant
National Information Standards Organization
chodgson at niso.org

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