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Access Control in a Distributed Decentralized Network: An XML Approach to Network Security using XACML and SAML
Paul J. Mazzuca
Dartmouth TR2004-506

Abstract: The development of eXtensible Distributed Access Control (XDAC) systems is influenced by the transference of data access and storage from the local computer to the network. In this distributed system, access control is determined by independent components which transmit requests and decisions over a network, utilizing XML signing capabilities found in the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML). All resources in the XDAC system are protected by the first component, a Policy Enforcement Point (PEP), which acts as the main divider between the requesting entity and the requested resource. The PEP grants access to a resource only if the second component, a Policy Decision Point (PDP), returns a permit response after consulting a set of applicable policies based on the requester's attributes, the resource, the action that the requester desires to apply to that resource, and optionally the environment. With Sun's eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML), the XML encoded policies can be combined among multiple nodes across a network using XACML rules and algorithms to formulate a single decision based on an XACML request. In this thesis project, I build a secure and efficient XDAC System based on XACML, implement an extension to the SAML Assertion design by including XACML Attributes and Results, describe in-detail about the many features that a XDAC System should embody, and show how a XDAC System would be effectively used in modern day computing.

Note: Senior Honors Thesis. Advisor: Ed Feustel.


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   Paul J. Mazzuca, "Access Control in a Distributed Decentralized Network: An XML Approach to Network Security using XACML and SAML." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2004-506, Spring 2004.


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