SWITCH Identity Blog

The Identity Blog puts the spotlight on identity management, digital identities, identifiers, attributes, authentication and access management.


The very last call for funding!

Update 6 May 2020/cg: Due to shifted priorities in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, SWITCH decided to add an additional call for participation. This article – originally published in February 2020 – is now being republished with new timing information.

The Swiss edu-ID project has been running since 2014 and comprises several phases. The last phase starts in May July 2020 and is expected to last until the end of 2020 (Deployment Step 4.23).

In this phase, universities can again submit project applications for planning & migration to SWITCH edu-ID.

LAST OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY FOR FEDERAL FUNDING, which will be made available by swissuniversities within the framework of the P-5 programme.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS IS 31 MARCH May 2020.

Eligible to apply are recognised universities which have already started planning work (regardless of whether this work has been completed so far or not).
The application should be made using the sub-project application form.
In the case of a migration project, the application is supplemented by a brief description of the scenarios and the procedure.
If you have any questions and in order to obtain the appropriate template, please contact eduid@switch.ch.

In the meantime, six universities and two other organisations have switched to SWITCH edu-ID. Various universities are already planning to switch from AAI to SWITCH edu-ID in 2020. Interested institutions should therefore announce their plans as soon as possible, so that SWITCH can coordinate the preparatory work and changeover date with them.


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Behind the Scenes of SLSP and SWITCH

As we have announced in our blog post “SWITCH edu-ID as door opener for libraries”, SLSP officially launches its new library service in December 2020, which relies on SWITCH edu-ID for user authentication and user management. With several hundred thousand expected users it is likely that the SLSP service will become one of the most widely used services with edu-ID/AAI in Switzerland. Therefore, the SWITCH edu-ID team is actively supporting the SLSP colleagues to optimally integrate it with edu-ID.
In this blog post we describe a few technical details and extensions that the edu-ID team implemented with and for SLSP. Last but not least, there is also a hint on what organisations can do to facilitate access to the SLSP service for their users.

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Update to the TRID WG Meeting / SWITCH edu-ID Update Event 2020

The Trust & Identity WG Meeting combined with the SWITCH edu-ID Update Event on Wed 20 May 2020

Registration is open until Friday, 8 May 2020 and mandatory (only registered users and accepted guests may enter the meeting room).

The event is aimed at the following target groups: IdP and SP Administrators, Home Org Administrators, RRA & Attribute Policy Administrators, IdP hosting customers and IT staff with interest in Microsoft / Office 365  for both – Swiss universities that still use SWITCHaai and those that have already switched over to SWITCH edu-ID.


What’s the SWITCH Trust & Identity WG?
The SWITCH Trust & Identity WG comprises representatives of all SWITCHaai Participants and SWITCHpki Participants in the SWITCH Community and the Extended SWITCH Community.
This group is informally involved with the further development of SWITCHaai/edu-ID and SWITCHpki and has the opportunity to provide feedback if there are questions or changes upcoming.


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SWITCH edu-ID as door opener for libraries

In December 2020, the Swiss Library Service Platform SLSP goes live[1] after six years of preparation.
From then on, library users will use their SWITCH edu-ID account to register with their research libraries and catalogues. This is expected to affect between 0.5 and 1 million users – especially all Swiss university members.

Thomas_Marty_web

Thomas Marty (director SLSP)

“In today’s knowledge society, unrestricted and timely access to scientific information is of great importance. By guaranteeing access to diverse information resources, academic libraries play a central role in research and teaching at universities, but also in the lifelong learning of the population. SLSP sees itself as a service provider for all academic libraries and contributes to establishing a seamless flow of information for the knowledge society”.

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Trust & Identity WG Meeting / SWITCH edu-ID Update Event 2020

SWITCH invites you on Wed, 20 May 2020 to the 3rd Trust & Identity WG Meeting combined with the SWITCH edu-ID Update Event in Berne – or if the specific situation persists online instead.

Registration is open until Friday, 8 May 2020 and required for logistical reasons.
Refer to the registration page for the preliminary schedule and meeting topics.

In case of presence we have foreseen to hold the program between 10:15 and 15:40.
If the event must take place online, we will shorten the program and run from 9-12, including a break.

The event is aimed at the following target groups: IdP and SP Administrators, Home Org Administrators, RRA & Attribute Policy Administrators, IdP hosting customers and IT staff with interest in Microsoft / Office 365  for both – Swiss universities that still use SWITCHaai and those that have already switched over to SWITCH edu-ID.


What’s the SWITCH Trust & Identity WG?
The SWITCH Trust & Identity WG comprises representatives of all SWITCHaai Participants and SWITCHpki Participants in the SWITCH Community and the Extended SWITCH Community.
This group is informally involved with the further development of SWITCHaai/edu-ID and SWITCHpki and has the opportunity to provide feedback if there are questions or changes upcoming.


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SWITCH edu-ID reaching 200’000 users

After reaching 100’000 accounts in March 2019, we were able to report 150’000 accounts eight months later. And today, I have the pleasure to announce that SWITCH edu-ID counts now over 200’000th accounts.

Of course, we intented to stick with our tradition to celebrate new landmarks with a cake featuring the number of accounts and a photo with the team behind the SWITCH edu-ID. The cake was already ordered… and if things went as planned, you would now find its picture in this post.

But we needed to bring our plans in line with the measures against COVID-19. Therefore, we had to cancel the cake and change the way the team photo was taken.

For the time being – and if we trust the figures published by the WHO – we can still claim that there are more confirmed identities in the SWITCH edu-ID than there are confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide (184’975).


Semester starts at UNIFR with SWITCH edu-ID

The University of Fribourg (UNIFR) has also been working with SWITCH edu-ID since 28 January 2020.

Do not let yourself be locked out!

With a targeted campaign, the University of Fribourg persuaded around 90% of its users to link their accounts before switching over to SWITCH edu-ID:

 

Poster and website campaign / Number of linked accounts and times of email dispatch

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ZHdK starts the year 2020 with SWITCH edu-ID

Right at the start of the year on 8 January 2020, the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) switched over to SWITCH edu-ID.

Smooth changeover thanks to good preparation and a high ‘linking’ success rate

Technically, everything was threaded perfectly and the changeover of the IdP went off without a hitch. After initialization and planning in 2018, the work could be started at the beginning of 2019 with the development of the connector, followed by the setup of the linking service and the migration of the IdP. The fact that everything went so smoothly was partly due to the fact that a large number of users had linked their accounts in time for the migration:

Target group Target value
Success rate
Students 60 % 67.4 %
Lecturers 60 % 68.5 %
Midlevel faculty 70 % 83.1 %
Staff 70 % 79.1 %
Externes 0 % 5.3 %

The communication measures were very successful with all target groups.
These consisted of a post in the Rectorate newsletter, a poster at the helpdesk, multiple e-mails sent to people without a linked account (maximum of three follow-ups and a final e-mail to users of the three most frequently used services), a message in the Rectorate newsletter shortly before the changeover, and detailed instructions on how to create and link the edu-ID account. E-mails were sent to the different groups of people in a staggered manner. This meant that support before and after the changeover to SWITCH edu-ID was uncomplicated and that the work involved was predictable and manageable.

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ZHAW has switched to edu-ID – with around 20,000 people!

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is using SWITCH edu-ID as replacement for the former AAI accounts and IdP since October 18. With currently around 20,000 persons with ZHAW affiliation, it is the largest university to date to use edu-ID.

Planning and reality

The ZHAW is one of the “Early Bird” universities that have already started planning the transition in 2017. The ZHAW coined the term “script cemetery” – a term for IdM processes that are based on many scripts difficult to maintain. The university therefore decided to replace its existing IdM. The edu-ID planning was part of this redesign project. Right from the start, the project manager succeeded in bringing all relevant stakeholders together at one table and also involving the departments where necessary, so that the migration plan was available in February 2018.
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eduroam goes edu-ID

eduroam.ch launch, with cake

eduroam is the well known and widely used, worldwide high-performance wifi access service from GÉANT. Eduroam profiles for a large variety of end user devices are now also available on the eduroam.ch portal.

Today, on 1st December 2019, the eduroam.ch service enters its pilot phase. Within the four months to come, SWITCH will find out whether this enduser-friendly service actually responds to a need of the Universities or not. eduroam.ch uses your SWITCH edu-ID for authentication, and lets you download a profile for each of your devices in a user-friendly way. These profiles are somewhat special in that they solve a typical BYOD problem. Today’s profiles obtained by eduroam.ch won’t connect you to inner V-LANs, but only to a generic or “guest” V-LAN, as on any other Campus.

Two Universities joined the pilot already right at the beginning. Others, as well as further organisations like e.g. Alumni associations, may join during the whole pilot phase until 31. March 2020. Participation in the pilot is free, and Universities can use this service in parallel to their specific existing eduroam profiles and infrastructure.

Organisation wanting to join, contact us at eduroam-support@switch.ch. The same contact point answers also all further questions you may have about the service.


150’000 edu-ID accounts!

Less than 8 months after reaching 100’000 accounts, the SWITCH edu-ID can already celebrate its 150’000st account! Of course, we got a cake (again!) and of course, we took a picture (again!). Around the start of the semester in September, we have seen days where more than 1000 persons registered their SWITCH edu-ID!


Secrets of the edu-ID passwords

Since a few months now, edu-ID users  can secure their account with multi-factor authentication (Two-Step Login). However, currently 99.5% of all edu-ID accounts still rely exclusively on username and password authentication. It is unlikely to quickly change soon in the near future, despite the death of the password has been announced time and time again. The password remains the easiest, best known and – in many cases – the cheapest authentication solution. Therefore, the edu-ID team invests a lot of effort into assisting users to choose a strong password and to store it securely. Continue reading


University of St. Gallen has adopted SWITCH edu-ID

On July 17 2019, the University of St. Gallen and SWITCH have flipped the switch.
From now on, members of the university will use SWITCH edu-ID accounts to access federated services.
Armin Schibli, Thomas Köppel and Thomas Mesaros drove the project forward and ensured the successful implementation in St. Gallen.

One of the early birds

The University of St Gallen was one of the first planning phase participants in 2017 and therefore, ready to start planning at a time when not all components of the SWITCH edu-ID service were available and no clear paths for adoption had been defined.
Nevertheless, the IT team was ready to accept the challenge and held intensive discussions with SWITCH and the local stakeholders to find the best suitable way to adopt SWITCH edu-ID. The result was what we internally call “the St. Galler model”.

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NOT for university members only

FHNW e-media offering for teachers uses Shared Attribute API

In principle open

Openness is one of the promises made by SWITCH edu-ID. In recent years, universities have increasingly opened up to additional user groups such as continuing education students or MOOC participants. Cooperation with external parties is becoming increasingly important overall, be it with other universities, research institutions or partners from the private sector. Academic institutions are expanding their offerings, and not every person who makes use of university services has to become an official member of the university.

But that’s why you let everyone in?

However, most service providers do not simply want to blindly trust a self-declared identity that users bring with them (i.e. a “naked” edu-ID).
There are many reasons why one wants to protect applications and content from unauthorized access, e.g. to prevent data theft or manipulation or to comply with data protection or license regulations. And if abuse has taken place despite all precautions, one wants to be able to find out who one can hold liable for damages. Of course, this can be difficult with unchecked identities, even if the majority of users behave correctly and have provided the correct personal data for their digital identity. So is this a reason not to trust edu-ID identities?
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Multi-Factor Authentication Reinforced

Since December 2018 the edu-ID login has supported multi-factor authentication in form of a two-step login that relies on SMS codes. However, receiving one-time SMS codes requires a mobile phone. Not all users want to add a mobile phone number to their edu-ID account. Furthermore, SMS messages generally cannot be securely sent. There is always the risk that somebody else intercepts SMS messages. Some edu-ID users also want to use multi-factor authentication for all their edu-ID logins but without entering a one-time code several times per day.
To address the above issues reported by the community, we extended the edu-ID two-step login in the following three areas…

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