UMA in the Enterprise: There’s far more potential for UMA

UMA, the upcoming User Managed Access Protocol, is a profile of OAuth 2.0. The specification itself defines the role of UMA as follows:

“UMA defines how resource owners can control protected-resource access by clients operated by arbitrary requesting parties, where the resources reside on any number of resource servers, and where a centralized authorization server governs access based on resource owner policies. Resource owners configure authorization servers with access policies that serve as asynchronous authorization grants.”

Simply said: UMA allows someone to control access to his data which can reside on other’s servers. As the name “user managed” implies, not the owner of the server but the owner of the resource (commonly some form of data) controls access. As I already wrote in a recent post, there now is at least a standard protocol for enabling privacy and minimal disclosure, by enhancing user control and consent.

Most of the use cases and case studies published by the standards body focus on Business-to-Consumer (B2C) scenarios. However, there is a great potential for Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Employee (B2E) communication. One example is provided by the UMA working group, which concerns managing API security based on UMA. However, there are numerous other scenarios. All complex information sharing scenarios involving a number of parties, such as complex financial transactions, fall in that scope.

A while ago, we had an interesting use case presented by a customer. The customer organization (organization A) shares data which is held on a cloud service (service C) with partners (partner 1, partner 2). However, the CSP (Cloud Service Provider) is not in charge of authorizations. Every partner in fact is in charge of granting access to “his” resources/data held on that server. Real world, and a perfect fit for UMA.

Thus, I strongly recommend that you look at UMA not only from a privacy and user consent perspective, but also from the perspective of fostering better collaboration between businesses. Without any doubt, UMA is another important step forward in standardization, after the introduction of OAuth 2.0 some time ago. Hopefully, UMA will gain the same widespread adoption as quickly as OAuth 2.0.


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