Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

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

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
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 session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.