Why are claims in SharePoint development important?

By: Dylan Rodriguez

SharePoint development is always evolving and new functionalities and features are being introduced into the world of SharePoint on a frequent basis. One of the topics, which have been gaining immense popularity in recent times are about using claims in SharePoint development 2010. At a more broader or generic level claims is used for security-related scenarios such as authentication. This topic has garnered much importance in the identity management space, however before delving deeper into it, it is important to understand what exactly is a claim.
Defining Claims
At times claims are referred to as ‘metadata about a user’. In the simplest terms, outsource SharePoint development team speak about claims as Active Directory attributes or LDAP attributes. In generic terms, claims represent attributes about a user. In order to completely understand the concept, claims is about making an assertion about oneself. In the digital world, a claim has to be trusted or authenticated by the dependent application. For instance in SharePoint development, outsource SharePoint development team must trust a claims provider such as ADFS2. An application tends to trust a user’s identity claim only if a trusted identity provider issues it to the calling application. Hence, it is extremely critical to create a trust relationship between the claims-aware application and the claims issuer while deploying a claims aware application.
Claims provide a lot more to outsourced SharePoint development team than simply regaining attributes from a particular directory. For instance, take into account the scenario where an organization’s external partner is not allowed to link their system to the company’s internal directory to reclaim attributes. If they are allowed to connect, the partner doesn’t possess any means of trusting those attributes because they won’t be able to validate it. For the organization, there is proper method of restricting what attributes each calling application may be allowed to access.
The advantages of claims becomes quite apparent when SharePoint development team analysis the following points:
• Only trusted identity providers can issue claims to applications
• Trusted identity providers such as outsourced SharePoint development team can be based on-premise, inside or outside the enterprise or in the cloud
• The trusted identity providers can only be configured to retrieve particular claims to specified trusted calling applications
• Claims tokens use digital signatures and are communicated to the calling application through the usage of standard based protocols such as SAML
• Claims are generally clubbed together as tokens through the usage of standards based formats such as WS-Federation or SAML
Most outsourced SharePoint development team will agree that claims enable one to transfer identities in a secure and trusted way across network boundaries, thereby allowing developers to find solutions to exciting challengers for their customers. Some of these challenges include complicated authentication requirements, federation as well as authorization based on what the clearance level is. In some cases two factor authentication is required for particular systems or sites especially to figure out if one is connecting over a secure connection or through an Internet café. Hence, in a nutshell claims are extremely important to establish proper security especially in large organizations.

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