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Computing and Information Services is spearheading an ongoing project to replace WebAuth with the Shibboleth System, open-source software that allows users to sign on to multiple Web resources with a single login.

Shibboleth, a name taken from the Old Testament, gives faculty and students more convenient access to online resources by eliminating the need for multiple usernames and passwords. Login information will be saved in a University-owned storage system, "keeping authentication at home," said Steven Tompkins, associate director of student and identity management systems.

The new system will allow users with authenticated Brown logins to access Web resources on campus and on InCommon, a federation of education and research institutions focused on sharing online resources, with a single sign-on, said Steve Carmody, IT architect. According to Carmody, since the system's inception in 2002, Shibboleth has spread to 2,500 campuses in 30 countries.

According to Carmody, one advantage Shibboleth offers over WebAuth is that it works across borders. "The world is changing, and many students and faculty regularly work with external parties in research and teaching," he said.

Since its implementation at Brown in 2008, Shibboleth has impacted the University community in many ways. Brown Morning Mail began using Shibboleth early this year, while other campus systems are scheduled to migrate from WebAuth to Shibboleth in the future.
Carmody also said Shibboleth offers cost advantages because it does not require license fees. In addition, CIS is implementing the new system itself, saving the cost of commercial support.

According to Carmody, there is no fixed date for phasing out WebAuth. Tompkins said CIS is currently working with early adopters within the University to explore new ways to leverage Shibboleth,  such as by incorporating it into transcript ordering services, the Critical Review and future versions of Banner.


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