>MOSS Internet Site – Security

>Building a corporate Internet site using MOSS has real security implications. Access from the Internet (for the users) and from within the organisation (Intranet) must be considered in terms of both authentication and authorisation. Although a sound solution, MOSS is not well documented here and an implementation typically needs to be designed. Following is a suggested solution template for organisations to use when attempting this. It should resonate with the majority of MSFT-shop organisations moving to a MOSS Internet site solution.

The solution supports two basic user categories:

1) Internal users. Employees accessing via the Intranet. Typically content authors – in charge of maintaining solution content. It is recognized that a requirement for employees to maintain content via the Internet (from home?) may well exist. In this situation, they should connect to their Intranet using whatever connectivity solution is already in-situ (VPN?). Although it is certainly possible to allow employees to manage content directly over the Internet, this creates additional complexity, cost and security risk for perhaps the sole benefit of; being able to manage content from an “unofficial” desktop (without the connectivity software) e.g. in a cybercafé.
2) External users. Public users accessing via the Internet. Able to access content only. May be further categorized as either – Anonymous user (Read only/Able to access all public content) or Registered user (Read only/Able to access special content in addition to public content).

The solution supports two-way authentication; one to support internal users (NTLM) and the other to support external users via Forms Based Authentication (FBA). Internal users are authenticated using the SSO (Single Sign-On) feature provided by the LDAP directory services. An internal SSO process synchronises the Intranet AD with a De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) LDAP. In practice, this will mean that an internal user can log onto the Intranet and be pass-through authenticated to the DMZ i.e. they will not have to log in twice.

Synchronisation between the Intranet AD and DMZ LDAP is one-way. This means that the creation of new internal users will have to take place on the AD and not directly in production. Assuming your organisation does not need to use profile import for LDAP users (and also does not provide custom profile properties for its internal users), it will only need to cater for authentication of LDAP users. This is perhaps a minor risk, since it will only be possible to test this once deployed in Production.

Similar to traditional NTLM authentication mechanisms, the FBA application requires a centralized store for external user credentials (in this case – SQL database). Internal user credentials are stored in AD (on the Intranet) and in LDAP (within the DMZ). An internal SSO process synchronizes them. No authentication is required for anonymous external users as you would expect.

User information stored in the SQL database is created only by a single registration process. A registration page defines the user information and the related validation. Using FBA, users will remain authenticated until the user closes their browser or until authentication timeout occurs.
 
Moving onto authorisation; authorization policies are required for granting content access rights for differing user categories. As stated above two different “extended” web applications are defined for managing both internal and external users. Authorization policies are applied to those distinct “extended” applications addressing the user categories’ tasks.

In the “extended” web application defined for the NTLM authentication (used by internal users) two different user groups are defined in the site settings permission section – Site Administrator (users with full control access rights) and Content Authors (users with design control access rights). No Anonymous access is supported in this “extended” web applications instance. In the “extended” web application defined for the FBA authentication (used by external users) all users are defined as users with read access rights. Anonymous access is supported for a subset of content as appropriate.

A final note on domains. The AD within the DMZ is for service accounts only e.g. SQL or MOSS services. It is not possible to trust the DMZ AD and the organisation AD proper. The DMZ is also unconnected to any other organisational system. MOSS based content deployment into the DMZ is unsupported. These measures should address internal security concerns. There are plenty of other security hoops to jump through when creating a MOSS Internet site but the above should get you started.

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