W3C, OASIS Meet Over Web Security Standards

The two leading standards bodies hold forum to hash out where they need to pool their resources and integrate security standard efforts.

Despite the best efforts to come to agreement on Web security standards, two leading standards bodies can best say they have made a start on moving to a common set of standards.

At the XML Web Services One Conference in Boston, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) held an all-day forum to hash out where they need to pool their resources and integrate security standards efforts.

"Standards should be enablers, not limiters," said Phillip Hallam-Baker, Web services security architect at VeriSign Inc., which is a co-author of the WS-Security specification. "Dont complain if companies dont wait for standards to catch up."

He added, "Without trust and security, Web services are dead on arrival."

Hallam-Baker said key standards under the W3C include XML Encryption, XML Signature and exXensible Key Management Specification (XKMS), whereas the key standards under OASIS include eXtensible Rights Markup Language (VRML) WS-Security, Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), Provisioning, Biometrics and eXtensible Access Control Markup Language.

Some users expressed the need for more cohesion among the standards.

However, Hallam-Baker said there is no standards war. "Either there is genuinely more than one approach that makes sense" or the individual standards can be put together, he said.

And although "there is lots of potential overlap, were very capable to start it on a very, very specific theme. Youre seeing convergence on a single approach," he added.

However, some users said they cannot wait for the standards bodies to come up with standards because they must implement systems today.

Patrick Gannon, CEO of OASIS, said, Its not just that were using standards, but we have the ability to get wide adoption of standards."

"There will be more coordination [between the W3C and OASIS] moving forward," Gannon said.

Tony Baer, president of onStrategies Inc., a New York consultancy, said holding the forum was a good idea. He said OASIS is more freewheeling, whereas W3C is more complex and needs more people involved before it can make a decision.

"The W3C is finding out how to live with OASIS, but the W3C realizes its limitations," Baer said. "OASIS is taking a lot more of the initiative. W3C has the moral high ground, but OASIS wants it."

OASIS recently won the Universal Description, and Discovery and Integration standards efforts over several other bidders. The group also has accepted the WS-Security efforts.

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