InCommon Federation: Participant Operational Practices (POP)

Participation in the InCommon Federation (“Federation”) enables a federation participating organization (“Participant”) to use Shibboleth identity attribute sharing technologies to manage access to on-line resources that can be made available to the InCommon community. One goal of the Federation is to develop, over time, community standards for such cooperating organizations to ensure that shared attribute assertions are sufficiently robust and trustworthy to manage access to important protected resources. As the community of trust evolves, the Federation expects that participants eventually should be able to trust each other’s identity management systems and resource access management systems as they trust their own.

A fundamental expectation of Participants is that they provide authoritative and accurate attribute assertions to other Participants, and that Participants receiving an attribute assertion protect it and respect privacy constraints placed on it by the Federation or the source of that information. In furtherance of this goal, InCommon requires that each Participant make available to other Participants certain basic information about any identity management system, including the identity attributes that are supported, or resource access management system registered for use within the Federation.

Two criteria for trustworthy attribute assertions by Identity Providers are: (1) that the identity management system fall under the purview of the organization’s executive or business management, and (2) the system for issuing end-user credentials (e.g., PKI certificates, userids/passwords, Kerberos principals, etc.) specifically have in place appropriate risk management measures (e.g., authentication and authorization standards, security practices, risk assessment, change management controls, audit trails, etc.).

InCommon expects that Service Providers, who receive attribute assertions from another Participant, respect the other Participant’s policies, rules, and standards regarding the protection and use of that data. Furthermore, such information should be used only for the purposes for which it was provided. InCommon strongly discourages the sharing of that data with third parties, or aggregation of it for marketing purposes without the explicit permission of the identity information providing Participant.

InCommon requires Participants to make available to all other Participants answers to the questions below.

1. Federation Participant Information

1.1 – The InCommon Participant Operational Practices information below is for:

InCommon Participant organization name: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The information below is accurate as of this date: March 30, 2015

1.2 – Identity Management and/or Privacy information

Additional information about the Participant’s identity management practices and/or privacy policy regarding personal information can be found online at:

1.3 – Contact information

The following person or office can answer questions about the Participant’s identity management system or resource access management policy or practice.

Name: Patrick Versace
Title: Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Applications
Phone: 704-687-6167

2. Identity Provider Information


2.1 – If you are an Identity Provider, how do you define the set of people who are eligible to receive an electronic identity? If exceptions to this definition are allowed, who must approve such an exception?

Electronic identities are created and removed automatically via our Identity Management System which is based on business rules established by the university’s Office of the Registrar and the Human Resources department.

2.2 – “Member of Community” is an assertion that might be offered to enable access to resources made available to individuals who participate in the primary mission of the university or organization. For example, this assertion might apply to anyone whose affiliation is “current student, faculty, or staff.” What subset of persons registered in your identity management system would you identify as a “Member of Community” in Shibboleth identity assertions to other InCommon Participants?

Member of Community is defined as current student, faculty, or staff. Credentials may also be issued to individuals who have a contractual affiliation with the University for the duration of that affiliation.


2.3 – Please describe in general terms the administrative process used to establish an electronic identity that results in a record for that person being created in your electronic identity database? Please identify the office(s) of record for this purpose. For example, “Registrar’s Office for students; HR for faculty and staff.”

Admissions and Registrar’s Office for students; HR for faculty and staff; contractors, guests.

2.4 – What technologies are used for your electronic identity credentials (e.g., Kerberos, userID/password, PKI, …) that are relevant to Federation activities? If more than one type of electronic credential is issued, how is it determined who receives which type? If multiple credentials are linked, how is this managed (e.g., anyone with a Kerberos credential also can acquire a PKI credential) and recorded?

Each person is issued only one electronic credential which is managed within our Identity Management System. Systems authenticate using “NinerNET Username/Password” which is affiliated with our Active Directory LDAP.

2.5 – If your electronic identity credentials require the use of a secret password or PIN, and there are circumstances in which that secret would be transmitted across a network without being protected by encryption (i.e., “clear text passwords” are used when accessing campus services), please identify who in your organization can discuss with any other Participant concerns that this might raise for them:

By policy, there are no systems within our University that transmit Network IDs in an unencrypted manner. If a user has concerns about security for any of our systems, please have them contact our Service Desk so that the issue can be investigated and responded to accordingly.

2.6 – If you support a “single sign-on” (SSO) or similar campus-wide system to allow a single user authentication action to serve multiple applications, and you will make use of this to authenticate people for InCommon Service Providers, please describe the key security aspects of your SSO system including whether session timeouts are enforced by the system, whether user-initiated session termination is supported, and how use with “public access sites” is protected.

Shibboleth 3 is used for campus SSO. This service also includes the CAS protocol.

2.7 – Are your primary electronic identifiers for people, such as “net ID,” eduPersonPrincipalName, or eduPersonTargetedID considered to be unique for all time to the individual to whom they are assigned? If not, what is your policy for re-assignment and is there a hiatus between such reuse?

NinerNET usernames are not re-used.


2.8 – How is information in your electronic identity database acquired and updated? Are specific offices designated by your administration to perform this function? Are individuals allowed to update their own information online?

All information required for the electronic identity database is acquired, entered, and maintained by the offices responsible for the specific identity.

  • Students are maintained by Admissions and Registrars office.
  • Faculty and Staff are maintained by Human Resources.

The official records of the above user groups is maintained by the corresponding office.

Individuals may not update any information affecting their official status via an online process.

2.9 – What information in this database is considered “public information” and would be provided to any interested party?

With the exception of releasing a transient Id to any service provider, UNC Charlotte only releases attributes that are specific to a given SP.


2.10 – Please identify typical classes of applications for which your electronic identity credentials are used within your own organization.

Web Based Applications including Websites, Portal, Email, Calendar, Collaboration, and ERP system.


Attributes are the information data elements in an attribute assertion you might make to another Federation participant concerning the identity of a person in your identity management system.

2.11 – Would you consider your attribute assertions to be reliable enough to:

  • Control access to on-line information databases licensed to your organization? YES
  • Be used to purchase goods or services for your organization? YES
  • Enable access to personal information such as student loan status? YES


Federation Participants must respect the legal and organizational privacy constraints on attribute information provided by other Participants and use it only for its intended purposes.

2.12 – What restrictions do you place on the use of attribute information that you might provide to other Federation participants?

To date, UNC Charlotte has not placed restrictions on the use of attributes by federated partners, as no attribute requests have included release of data considered sensitive by UNC Charlotte data classification. It should be noted that all Service Provider requests for released attributes are reviewed prior to deployment, and UNC Charlotte may at some point require restriction of sensitive information by a Service Provider.

2.13 – What policies govern the use of attribute information that you might release to other Federation participants? For example, is some information subject to FERPA or HIPAA restrictions?

Refer to section “1.2 – Identity Management and/or Privacy information” where our privacy policies are listed which would include restrictions surrounding FERPA and HIPAA data.

3. Service Provider Information

Service Providers are trusted to ask for only the information necessary to make an appropriate access control decision, and to not misuse information provided to them by Identity Providers. Service Providers must describe the basis on which access to resources is managed and their practices with respect to attribute information they receive from other Participants.

The University of NC at Charlotte is currently not operating as a service provider.

3.1 – What attribute information about an individual do you require in order to manage access to resources you make available to other Participants? Describe separately for each resource ProviderID that you have registered. n/a

3.2 – What use do you make of attribute information that you receive in addition to basic access control decisions? For example, do you aggregate session access records or records of specific information accessed based on attribute information, or make attribute information available to partner organizations, etc.? n/a

3.3 – What human and technical controls are in place on access to and use of attribute information that might refer to only one specific person (i.e., personally identifiable information)? For example, is this information encrypted? n/a

3.4 – Describe the human and technical controls that are in place on the management of super-user and other privileged accounts that might have the authority to grant access to personally identifiable information? n/a

3.5 – If personally identifiable information is compromised, what actions do you take to notify potentially affected individuals? n/a

4. Other Information

4.1 – Technical Standards, Versions and Interoperability

Identify the version of Internet2 Shibboleth code release that you are using or, if not using the standard Shibboleth code, what version(s) of the SAML and SOAP and any other relevant standards you have implemented for this purpose.

UNC Charlotte currently operates Shibboleth 3.1.1

4.2 – Other Considerations

Are there any other considerations or information that you wish to make known to other Federation participants with whom you might interoperate? For example, are there concerns about the use of clear text passwords or responsibilities in case of a security breach involving identity information you may have provided?

The University is active in mitigating any apparent security breach or improper use of digital identities, and regularly works very closely with University Legal Affairs and OneIT Security.