Identity Provider Proxy | Getting Started

Planning Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy

Proxy solutions tend to sit in the middle of things — the Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy is no different. A bit of planning before getting started will go a long way to reducing initial confusion. Consider the following questions:

  1. Who is the target audience?

    1. What IdP(s) will the audience use?

    2. Does the audience vary based on the Service Provider being accessed?

  2. What is/are the Service Providers that will be accessed?

    1. Do the Service Providers meet Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy requirements?

    2. Are the Service Providers registered with InCommon or one of the other eduGAIN federations -- if not, how will Cirrus Identity get the metadata?

    3. Do the Service Providers have an authorization process to control access that is separate from authenticating to the service?

  3. Will the Proxy be required to provide access control?

    1. Does the Proxy need to ensure audience members have a sponsor using the Cirrus Invitation Service?

    2. Does the Proxy need to ensure audience members have an organizational attribute using the Cirrus Account Linking Service?

  4. How will the end user “discover” which Identity Provider to use with the Proxy -- which is another way of saying what discovery configuration will the Proxy have?

    1. By default, the Proxy is configured to use the Cirrus Discovery Service and is the quickest to start with. Both the Cirrus Proxy and the Cirrus Discovery Service are integrated with InCommon and eduGAIN metadata to further lower the initial configuration effort.

    2. If the audience is being directed from another application such as a portal (and the service provider is reasonably well behaved), discovery can be bypassed with a carefully constructing a URL. The URL can be used for links in portals or other web content to direct the audience to the service. See “Discovery Configuration with Cirrus Proxy | Bypass Proxy Discovery” for more details.

    3. The Proxy can also be configured to use any discovery service that is compatible with the OASIS IdP Discovery Service Protocol and Profile if an organization desires. See “Discovery Configuration with Cirrus Proxy | Configure my own Discovery Service for Proxy” for more details.

Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy “Hello World”

Customers subscribing to Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy will have a UAT Proxy instance provisioned during customer on-boarding. Cirrus staff will also perform some initial configuration and, if appropriate, register the instance as an SP in the InCommon trust federation.

Customers will often subscribe to one or more additional Cirrus Identity modules to support desired implementations. In addition to provisioning the Proxy instance, some initial setup for Cirrus Gateway, Cirrus Account Linking, and/or Cirrus Invitation will also take place.

The following are the steps needed to get started using Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy:

  1. Customers should answer the question in the “Planning Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy” section. Cirrus Identity can offer generally accepted practices, customer stories, and professional services to help.

  2. As mentioned above, Cirrus Identity generally registers the SP side of the Proxy with the InCommon trust federation as part of the provisioning process. This allows identity providers to access metadata. Identity Providers will need to adjust attribute release to the Proxy for any attributes needed.

  3. Depending on the customer, Cirrus will provision other modules based on the customer’s subscription (or trial/PoC agreement). Modules such as Cirrus Gateway, Cirrus External Identity Provider, and Cirrus Invitation each have associated setup. See the “Getting Started” for each module as appropriate:

    1. Cirrus Gateway Getting Started

    2. Cirrus Account Linking Getting Started

    3. Cirrus Invitation Getting Started

    4. Cirrus External Identity Provider Getting Started

  4. If the Customer has subscribed to the Cirrus Account Linking solution, the customer will need to coordinate with Cirrus Identity on the details of the linking identifier to be used. Cirrus Identity will need these details to finish the configuration of the Proxy (See Cirrus Account Liking Getting Started).

  5. If there is a service provider (SP) that will use the Proxy, but the metadata for the SP is not published to federation metadata (for example InCommon or eduGAIN), the metadata needs to be sent to Cirrus Identity Support ( for configuration. Additionally, if there is an SP with special attribute requirements, regardless where the metadata is published, that also needs to be communicated to Cirrus Identity Support.

  6. If there is an identity provider that is needed by the Proxy audience, but the metadata for the IdP is not published to federation metadata (for example InCommon or eduGAIN), the metadata needs to be sent to Cirrus Identity Support ( for configuration.

  7. A member of the organization needs to have access to the Cirrus Console and to be granted the “Organization Administrator” (org admin) role for your organization. (See Cirrus Console Getting Started)

  8. If the customer will be using the Cirrus Discovery Service (recommended at the start), an admin will configure the Cirrus Discovery Service for the service provider side of the Proxy using the Cirrus Console. The Discovery Service will be the interface users are redirected to when they attempt to log in to the service provider. All of the identity providers options for the Proxy audience should be configured (See Cirrus Discovery Getting Started).

  9. Change the configuration for all service providers (SP) that will use the Proxy to trust the identity provider (IdP) side of the Proxy. Cirrus Identity will provide the path to the IdP metadata but it will generally be at a URL of the form (See Cirrus Proxy Documentation for further details).

  10. If the customer configured the Cirrus Discovery Service (see Step #8), change the configuration for all SPs that will use the Proxy to use the Cirrus Discovery Service - the discovery URL is "" and details for different service provider platforms are available here).

Identity Provider Proxy | Using Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy

Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy discovery configuration

Standard configuration

In most scenarios your service provider (SP) will send users to the Cirrus Proxy to authenticate. The Cirrus Proxy will show a discovery interface to users. The user will select an identity provider (IdP) and the Proxy will send the user to that IdP to authenticate.

If authentication is successful, the IdP will send the end user back to the Proxy, the Proxy will perform any configured business logic, and send the end user back to the SP.

The Cirrus Discovery Service user interface and offered identity providers that the Cirrus Proxy present is configured using the Cirrus Console.

For a Shibboleth Service Provider deployment, see the “Shibboleth Resources | Using a Shibboleth service provider with Cirrus Proxy” example configuration.

Bypass Proxy discovery

In some situations your SP may already know the upstream IdP that the proxy should use and you want the user to bypass the discovery normally performed by the proxy. This can be achieved by sending a carefully constructed request to the proxy that contains the following information:

  1. The SP Entity ID

  2. Relay State for the SP. This is often the path on the SP that the user should end up on after authenticating

  3. The upstream IdP EntityID

URL encode these parameters and use them as query parameters to the SingleSignOnService HTTP-Redirect binding URL for the proxy. You'll have a URL of the format $bindingUrl?spentityid=$SPEntityID&RelayState=$RelayState&IDPList=$IdpEntityID

Sending a user to the below example will tell a Cirrus proxy to use Google as the upstream IdP and return the user to a Cirrus test SP that will display some attributes.

Perform discovery before AuthNRequest

In the standard flow the SP sends the user/browser to the proxy first (using a SAML AuthNRequest) and then discovery is performed. In some case you may want to perform discovery first and send the user to the proxy second AND bypass discovery on the proxy. This can be achieved by constructing two URLs with the necessary parameters: The discovery return URL and discovery URL

Discovery return URL

The discovery return URL is similar to the 'Bypass Proxy Discovery' URL. It initiates the login after discovery has been performed. It will get used when constructing the discovery URL. You'll need the following information:

  1. The SP Entity ID

  2. Relay State for the SP. This is often the path on the SP that the user should end up on after authenticating

URL encode these parameters and use them as query parameters to the SingleSignOnService HTTP-Redirect binding URL for the proxy. You'll have a URL of the format $bindingUrl?spentityid=$SPEntityID&RelayState=$RelayState  


Discovery URL

The discovery URL will load Cirrus's Discovery interface. Users can be sent here to pick an IdP and initiate a login. You'll need to know the following information:

  1. The Proxy's SP entityId

  2. The return URL from above

URL encode these parameters and use them as query parameters to the discovery URL. You'll have a URL for the format$proxySpEntityId&return=$returnUrlEncoded

Sending a user (or iframing) this example discovery URL will allow you to initiate discovery from your SP and have the response processed by the Proxy.

Configure my own Discovery Service for Proxy

The Proxy uses the Cirrus Discovery Service to perform discovery. If you have a Discovery Service that is compatible with OASIS IdP Discovery Service Protocol and Profile and want to use that with the Cirrus Proxy then contact to have this enabled for you proxy.

Standard Flow with Custom Discovery for SP

In the standard flow the proxy displays the same discovery interface for all SPs making use of the proxy. If you want to customize the discovery interface shown by the proxy based on the SP using the proxy then contact to discuss your options.

Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy and assertion scoping


In an identity federation each Identity Provider has certain scopes that it can use when asserting user attributes to avoid name collisions. For example if two Identity Providers had a user called John they would need a way to distinguish which john is from which IdP.  Using scoping the IdPs could assert the identifier as and, where orgA and orgB are the domain names for the organizations associated with each IdP.

The Cirrus SAML Proxy supports scopes in several fashions

Exact Scope Checking

The proxy will check that the scope asserted from an Identity Provider matches the allowed scope for the Identity Provider. If an IdP asserts a scope that it is not allowed to the proxy will remove that assertions.

This is enabled by default for these attributes: eduPersonPrincipalName, eduPersonScopedAffilitation

Ends with Scope Checking

In some scenarios a service provider uses email address as its internal identifier. The proxy can perform scope checking on the email address. In some organizations user's email addresses may contain subdomains. For example Example Edu may have a scope of but email address domains like If it enabled this feature performs scope checking by ensuring the scope domain ends with the appropriate domain.

Ignore Scope Checking

If your intend to proxy an Identity Provider that does not have a fixed scope you may opt to disable scope checking for that Identity Provider. For example Google provides email for lots of enterprises. If you use the Cirrus Gateway as an IdP AND use email address for eduPersonPrincipalName then the Google gateway may assert a scope for any business that uses Google for email. In such a scenario you'll want to disable scope checking for a specific IdP, and continue checking other IdPs.

This is enabled by default for Cirrus Gateway IdPs that provide email service for multiple domains.

Scope Rewrite

Your use case may require you to re-write the scope of proxied attributes. This feature will have proxy change scoped attributes in one of two ways:

  • Change scope: A scoped value of will be changed to This is useful if your SAML profile has specified the allowable values for the descoped attribute.

  • Change scope and descoped value: A scoped value of will be changed to This is useful when you want to preserve the old scope in some fashion during the rewrite.

The new scope is configurable. This feature is disable by default. If enabled it can be applied to specific attributes, or to specific scopes or to a combination of the two.

Identity Provider Proxy | SAML Resources

Customer Metadata

Cirrus will generate customer specific SAML Metadata for certain services. 


Cirrus will publish your metadata bundle at where _NAME_ is a customer specific identifier. Cirrus will provide the value to use for _NAME_

The metadata bundle can contains an EntitiesDescriptor element with multiple EntityDescriptor child elements. Not all SAML software can consume a bundle of metadata. If you need individual files, please contact Cirrus support.

For an example Shibboleth SP configuration to automatically consume the metadata bundle, see “Enabling Shibboleth service provider to consume Cirrus Proxy metadata”.

Signature Verification

Customer metadata is signed by Cirrus. If your SAML software supports signature verification then you can use the public key to verify the download.

# Retrieve the certificate
$ /usr/bin/curl --silent \ \
> /tmp/metadata-signing.crt
# Validate the certificates fingerprint
$ openssl x509 -noout -in /tmp/metadata-signing.crt  -fingerprint -sha1

    SHA1 Fingerprint=56:C4:D7:77:8D:9F:C8:03:40:E4:B4:9F:77:67:57:A1:F4:52:91:1D

Identity Provider Proxy | Shibboleth Resources

Sample Shibboleth configurations

Enabling Shibboleth service provider to consume Cirrus Proxy metadata

To enable a Shibboleth service provider to access the Cirrus Proxy metadata, add an additional MetadataProvider to your shibboleth2.xml configuration file as follows:

<!-- Non-social IdP's managed by Cirrus -->
<!-- Replace _NAME_ with the organization name provided by Cirrus, and _YOUR_PATH_ with the path to the Cirrus metadata-signing public key -->
<MetadataProvider type="XML" url=""
backingFilePath="cirrus-metadata-signed.xml" reloadInterval="14400">
            <MetadataFilter type="Signature" certificate="/_YOUR_PATH_/metadata-signing.crt"/>

Using a Shibboleth service provider with Cirrus Gateway and Cirrus Discovery

If you are using your SP directly with the Cirrus Gateway and not through a proxy, then you may use Cirrus's Discovery Service with your SP

<SSO discoveryProtocol="SAMLDS" discoveryURL="">
        SAML2 SAML1

Using a Shibboleth service provider with Cirrus Proxy

If you are using the Cirrus Identity Provider Proxy then you configure the SP to direct all logins to the Proxy.

<SSO entityID="">            
    SAML2 SAML1 

Scope Checking

Shibboleth SP performs scope checking for eduPersonPrincipalName and other scoped attributes. If you are using a Cirrus Proxy then  scope checking is performed by the proxy and the proxy will pass through scoped attributes from the upstream IdP. If your Shibboleth SP also performs scope checking it may remove these scoped attributes that were asserted from the upstream IdP. You can adjust your shibboleth attribute-policy.xml configuration as shown below.

<afp:AttributeRule attributeID="eppn">
    <!-- Disabling default scope check because proxy may assert eppns from multiple upstream IdPs -->
    <!-- <afp:PermitValueRuleReference ref="ScopingRules"/> -->
    <afp:PermitValueRule xsi:type="ANY"/>