Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Leveraging on Active Directory for ColdFusion Users

The majority of ColdFusion applications live far away, hidden, in enterprise fortresses

The majority of ColdFusion applications live far away, hidden, in enterprise fortresses as applications that small-to-large organizations depend on. In these organizations, especially the medium-to-large ones, there are well-established network infrastructures to manage the users, workstations, servers, etc.

Organizations usually implement LDAP as a directory services infrastructure but, for the purposes of this article, I will only be discussing Active Directory.

Active Directory, AD, is an LDAP implementation from Microsoft that was introduced with the Windows 2000 environment. This implementation is based on the X.500 LDAP standards. The AD is a giant database that can store as much as 16 terabytes or 1 billion objects ranging from users, printer locations, security policies, and, also important, user-defined data.

Every application that interacts with users usually has restrictions based on profiles and must also implement security. These are especially important for applications in financial organizations. Based on my experience, building user and profile management into applications, which is not a trivial matter, take considerable time and effort in the software development cycle. It doesn't stop with this; users don't like to have multiple security credentials across many applications. There is nothing more frustrating for these users than having to remember which username and password work with which application.

One of the beauties of Microsoft's Web-based/enabled applications is the ease at which they plug in to its existing network infrastructure. Outlook Web Access (OWA) users use their network security credentials to log in. Not only that, OWA knows when a user is logged into a computer, so it automatically loads the user's profile from the AD.

ColdFusion has support for LDAP, which includes AD. Using CFLAP, the ColdFusion tag for interacting with LDAP servers, you could leverage on AD for user management and profiling.

In the next few paragraphs, I'll show how you can use CFLAP to authenticate and load user profiles in AD for use in your application.

Step 1: Preparation
For the sake of this article, imagine you are writing an application for a financial institution called Bank X Inc. Bank X has implemented its AD as bankx.com. To write your application, you must know the name or IP of an AD server (Domain Controller, DC) that will authenticate your users. You must also know the structure of your AD. Please consult with your Domain Administrator for documentations.

Step 2: Login
The following is a simple login form to be used by Bank X users to log in to their financial applications:

<form action="loginADUser.cfm" method="post">
   <label for="username" accesskey="u">Username:</label>
   <input name="username" type="text" id="username" />
   <br />
   <label for="password" accesskey="p">Password</label>
   :
   <input name="password" type="password" id="password" />
   <br />
   <input name="Submit" type="submit" value="Submit" />
   <br />
</form>

Step 3: Authentication
The loginADUser.cfm page contains code to authenticate the user against the AD server (see Listing 1).

Explanation
In AD, any valid user can bind to the service, which is accessible on port 389 and port 636 for a secured connection. For more on secured connections, please see the security section. The bind will work only if the security credentials are correct but will throw an error if the credentials are wrong.

The isLoggedIn variable holds a Boolean value that determines if a user's security credentials are valid on the domain or not. Now, when authentication is attempted, the try-catch combination catches the error that is thrown with wrong security credentials.

The code in Listing 1 kills two birds with one stone by authenticating and retrieving certain records at the same time.

A user's groups are stored in the memberof field. The membership information is stored in DN form, which you may have to parse to extract out. It's usually in this form:

CN=Support Team,OU=Distribution List,DC=bankx,DC=com,
CN=InfoTech,OU=Distribution List,DC=bankx,DC=com,
CN=Administrators,CN=Builtin,DC=bankx,DC=com,
CN=Domain Admins,CN=Builtin,DC=bankx,DC=com

The login code can be wrapped with a CFLOGIN tag and the parsed roles passed to CFLOGINUSER as roles. Otherwise, you can implement your own role system with session management.

Extending the AD
The AD, implementing the LDAP specifications, has default fields that hold information that is important to your users and applications. However, you might want to store some application-specific data along with the default information. AD has 15 blank fields that you can use: extensionAttribute1 to extensionAttribute15. You can also use some fields that are not important to your organization such as IPPhone.

If you use these fields, documentation of what you have done is very important. Also, note that the AD can be delicate; kindly consult with your Domain Administrator before writing anything to the database. An error could bring down the whole AD forest.

Tools
You can't do much with AD without using the ADSI Edit. Install this from the Windows Support Tools. The ADSI Edit allows you to peruse the attributes and data types of the objects in the AD. The AD has data types such as Integer, Integer8, DN, OID, Boolean, DirectoryString, and PrintableString. Consult documentations for what these stand for.

Security on AD/CF Integration
Implementing a real-life application requires that transmission of sensitive data between the servers should be encrypted. The AD supports the interchange of data between ColdFusion and itself via the Secured Socket Layer, SSL on port 636.

To use SSL, you must install an Enterprise Certificate Authority on any of the domain controllers in your organization. This forces the DCs to request certificates from ColdFusion whenever you use CFLDAP.

The next step is to install your security certificate on the ColdFusion server using the keytool. Go to the command prompt and navigate to <cfroot_install>\runtime\jre\bin directory and run the following command:

keytool -import -keystore cacerts -alias ldap -file ldap.crt -keypass bl19mq

Please refer to the Sun JDK for full documentation.

With the certificates in place, you must add the secure = "CFSSL_BASIC" attribute to your CFLDAP.

Summary
Your application can be much more elegant if you leverage on the AD. Not only will you deliver faster, you also future-proof your application so that it can effectively connect to other sources of user security profiles.

Ultimately, the users find life easier if they can always use your applications with just a single set of universal security credentials.

Important Links

More Stories By Adédèjì Olówè

Adedeji Olowe, a business intelligence expert, has been using ColdFusion for several years. He has experience developing and extending enterprise applications for companies in the financial industry as well as systems integration.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
CFDJ News Desk 12/07/05 12:35:54 PM EST

Leveraging on Active Directory for ColdFusion Users. The majority of ColdFusion applications live far away, hidden, in enterprise fortresses as applications that small-to-large organizations depend on. In these organizations, especially the medium-to-large ones, there are well-established network infrastructures to manage the users, workstations, servers, etc.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
industrial company for a multi-year contract initially valued at over $4.0 million. In addition to DataV software, Bsquare will also provide comprehensive systems integration, support and maintenance services. DataV leverages advanced data analytics, predictive reasoning, data-driven diagnostics, and automated orchestration of remediation actions in order to improve asset uptime while reducing service and warranty costs.
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...