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How is Identity Management simplified in Apple devices?

Apple is known for its world-class products and services, and it is true in the case of its access management solutions as well. A wide range of Apple identity services makes it easier to manage identities in the workplace, cloud, and other devices. These identification methods are secure as well as user-friendly.

In this article, we will explore the key identity service methods – authentication, authorization, and identity federation – and the options Apple provides to manage identities across the workplace and cloud.

Authentication is the process of verifying the user or device identity. Apple provides a variety of services for authentication, such as Apple ID, Sign In with Apple, and Apple School Manager.  

  • Apple ID is a single sign-on service that allows users to sign in to all their Apple products and services with a username and password.
  • Sign In with Apple is a secure authentication feature that lets users quickly sign in to apps and websites with their Apple ID.
  • Apple School Manager is a cloud-based service that provides a centralized identity management platform for schools and educational institutions.

Apple also provides two-factor authentication, an additional layer of security requiring users to enter a code sent to their phone or another device. This helps ensure that the user is the legitimate account owner and provides extra assurance that the user’s identity is secure. Apple also offers security features such as Face ID and Touch ID, which use biometric recognition to verify the user’s identity.

Authorization is verifying that someone has the right to access a certain resource or application. In Apple, authorization controls access to various services, including Apple ID, iCloud, and Apple Pay. 

Unlike authentication, which is used to verify a user’s identity, authorization defines what a user is allowed to do. To make this work, the user provides their username and password to an identity provider (IdP). In conceptual terms, the IdP is the “authority”, the username and password is the “assertion” (because that person “asserts” their identity), and the data a user receives after successfully signing in is the “token”. 

Moreover, Authorization is part of Apple’s access management solutions. Apple uses tokens to control access to various services. For example, an Apple ID token is used to authenticate a user’s identity when they access their Apple ID account. While an iCloud token is used to verify the user’s identity when they access the iCloud service. Similarly, an Apple Pay token is used to verify the user’s identity when they use Apple Pay.  

Identity Federation
Identity federation is a process used to establish trust between Identity Providers (IdPs) across different security domains. This allows users to move freely between systems while retaining security. For identity federation to be successful, administrators must set up domains that trust each other and agree on a single method to identify users. 

A common example of identity federation is using an enterprise account to log in to an IdP. For example, Apple has enabled federation between Google Workspace and Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Apple School Manager, Apple Business Manager and Apple Business Essentials.  

This allows users to use their existing Google Workspace or Azure AD accounts to sign in to iCloud or to sign in on Apple devices associated with Apple School Manager, Apple Business Manager or Apple Business Essentials. If a user is not challenged to provide their identity again, then federation is performed using single sign-on. 

Setting up an identity federation is typically done through a trusted broker. This software component is responsible for managing the trust relationship between two domains. The trust broker is responsible for authenticating users, verifying their identity, and providing access to the resources in the trusted domain. This helps ensure that only those authorized to access the resources in the trusted domain can do so. 

Utilizing Platform Single Sign-On (SSO) for macOS
Platform single sign-on (SSO) for macOS provides a secure and convenient way for users to access their various accounts with a single sign-on. With platform SSO, developers can build SSO extensions that extend to the macOS login window, allowing users to synchronize local account credentials with an Identity Provider (IdP). This means that users can have one password for multiple accounts without remembering multiple passwords. 

Moreover, Platform SSO is based on the OpenID Connect protocol and requires macOS 13 or later versions. To set up platform SSO, developers must create an SSO extension MDM payload that includes support for platform SSO. The IdP must also be set up to support its authentication protocol. 

Once the SSO is set up, users can log in to their Mac with their IdP password. The local account password is then automatically kept in sync with the cloud password, meaning the local and cloud passwords now match. In addition, users can unlock their Mac with Touch ID and Apple Watch as well. 

Platform SSO also supports two authentication methods.

  • The first is authentication with a Secure Enclave-backed key, where a user can use a Secure Enclave key to authenticate with the IdP without a password. The key is set up with the IdP during the user registration process.
  • The second method is password authentication, where a user can authenticate with either a local password or an IdP password.

With Apple’s identity services, you can be sure that your organization’s data is safe and secure, and your users can access their accounts efficiently. Security measures, such as authentication, authorization and identity federation, ensure that individual users can access the resources they need without creating a new username and password for each one.

Make the switch to Apple with Brilyant (Know more about Apple at Brilyant) , an Apple Authorised Reseller that provides you with a one-stop solution customized as per your requirements. Contact us (link to contact us page) today to know more about our services.

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