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How URIs Are Used in AD FS

Published: February 24, 2012

Updated: November 1, 2013

Applies To: Windows Server 2012



A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a string of characters that is used as a unique identifier. In AD FS, URIs are used to identify both partner network addresses and configuration objects. When used to identify partner network addresses, the URI is always a URL. When used to identify configuration objects, the URI may be a URN or a URL. For more general information about URIs, see RFC 2396 and RFC 3986.

The following are the network address URLs that are most often handled by administrators in AD FS.

  • The URLs of the Federation Service, including WS-Federation, SAML, WS-Trust, Federation Metadata, WS-MetadataExchange, Privacy and Organization URLs

  • The URLs of a relying party trust, including WS-Federation, SAML, and Federation Metadata URLs

  • The URLs of a claims provider trust, including WS-Federation, SAML, and Federation Metadata URLs

The following table describes the identifiers that are most often handled by administrators in AD FS.

 

Identifier name Description Comparisons

Federation Service identifier

This identifier is used to identify the Federation Service. It is used by relying parties that use claims from this Federation Service, as well as claims providers that issue claims to this Federation Service.

When a user requests claims from a claims provider for this Federation Service, the Federation Service identifier will be used to identify the target for the claims.

When this Federation Service receives the claims from a claims provider, it will check to ensure the claims are scoped for it by looking for its Federation Service identifier.

When a relying party is receiving claims from this Federation Service, the relying party will check that the issuer of the claims matches the Federation Service identifier.

Relying party identifier

This identifier is used to identify the relying party to this Federation Service. It is used when issuing claims to the relying party.

When a user requests claims from this Federation Service for the relying party, the relying party identifier will be used to identify the relying party for which the claims should be targeted. This comparison is done using prefix matching (see below).

When the relying party receives the claims, it will check for its identifier in the security token to ensure the claims are targeted for it.

Claims provider identifier

This identifier is used to identify the claims provider to this Federation Service. It is used when receiving claims from the claims provider.

When this Federation Service is receiving claims from the claims provider, this Federation Service will check that the issuer of the claims matches the claims provider identifier.

Claim type

This identifier is used to define the type of claim. It is used by this Federation Service, claims providers, and relying parties when sending and receiving claims.

When the Federation Service receives claims from a claims provider, the claim rules associated with the corresponding claims provider trust allow the administrator to compare claim types and process claims. The claim rules associated with a relying party trust also allow the administrator to compare claim types from the claims coming out of the claims provider trust rules, and decide which claims to issue.

The path syntax of a URI is organized hierarchically and is delimited by either all “/” characters or all “:”characters.  Thus the path may be split into path sections based on the delimiting character.  When prefix matching, each section must be a full match according to the matching rules (these rules govern the casing of matches). For more information about matching rules, see the RFC’s mentioned above.

When a relying party is identified in a request to the Federation Service, AD FS uses prefix matching logic to determine if there is a matching relying party trust in the AD FS configuration database.

For example, if the relying party identifier in the AD FS configuration database (URI1) is a prefix to the relying party identifier in the incoming request (URI2), then the following must be true:

  • Trailing delimiters (slashes and colons) of path sections or authorities must be ignored

  • The scheme and authority parts of URI1 and URI2 must be a case insensitive exact match

  • Each path section of URI1 must be an exact match (based on the case sensitivity chosen) to the corresponding path section of URI2

  • URI2 may have more path sections than URI1, but URI1 must not have more path sections than URI2

  • URI1 cannot have more path sections than URI2

  • If URI1 has a query string, it must match exactly to a URI2 query string

  • If URI1 has a fragment, it must match exactly to a URI2 fragment

The following table provides additional examples.

 

Relying party identifier in AD FS configuration database Relying party identifier in request message Request identifier matches the configuration identifier? Reason

http://contoso.com

http://contoso.com

TRUE

Exact match

http://contoso.com/

http://contoso.com

TRUE

Trailing slashes are ignored

http://contoso.com

http://contoso.com/

TRUE

Trailing slashes are ignored

http://contoso.com

http://contoso.com/hr

TRUE

URI1 has no path and matches scheme and authority to URI2

http://contoso.com/hr

http://contoso.com/hr/web

TRUE

First path sections match, URI1 has no second path section

http://contoso.com/hr

http://contoso.com/hr/web/?m=t

TRUE

Same reasons as above, query string doesn’t change anything

http://contoso.com/hr/

http://contoso.com/hrw/main

FALSE

URI1 path section 1 does not match URI2 path section 1

http://contoso.com/hr

http://contoso.com

FALSE

URI1 has more path sections than URI2

http://contoso.com/hr

http://contoso.com/hrweb

FALSE

First path sections do not match

http://contoso.com/?m=t

http://contoso.com/?m=f

FALSE

Query string parts do not match

https://contoso.com

http://contoso.com

FALSE

Scheme parts do not match

http://sts.contoso.com

http://contoso.com

FALSE

Authority parts do not match

http://contoso.com

http://sts.contoso.com

FALSE

Authority parts do not match

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