Active Directory Federation Services, or ADFS, is an identity access solution developed by Microsoft that allows a secure sharing of resources and applications with users from outside your organization. If you’re running a Windows Server environment, ADFS is an important component to consider. But what version of ADFS comes with Windows Server 2016?
In this article, we will take a closer look at ADFS and explore its features and benefits. We will discuss the differences between the ADFS versions and see what’s new in ADFS for Windows Server 201Additionally, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to install ADFS on Windows Server 2016.
Whether you are an IT professional or just looking to learn more about ADFS, this article will help you discover what version of ADFS is included in Windows Server 2016 and provide you with a solid understanding of the features and benefits that come with it. Keep reading to find out more!
What is ADFS?
If you are wondering what ADFS is, you are in the right place. ADFS stands for Active Directory Federation Services, a Microsoft service that provides a single sign-on solution. It is a web-based service that allows users to access multiple applications using a single set of login credentials.
The main purpose of ADFS is to provide secure authentication and authorization for web-based applications, both within an organization and with external partners. ADFS uses standard web protocols, such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and OAuth, to provide authentication and authorization services.
With ADFS, users don’t need to remember multiple usernames and passwords, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Instead, they only need to sign in once, and then they can access all of the applications that they are authorized to use.
In summary, ADFS is a web-based service that provides a single sign-on solution, enabling users to access multiple applications using a single set of login credentials. It provides secure authentication and authorization for web-based applications, both within an organization and with external partners, using standard web protocols such as SAML and OAuth.
Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) is a software component developed by Microsoft that enables Single Sign-On (SSO) access across multiple systems and applications. It authenticates users with a single set of credentials that can be shared across all participating systems. This eliminates the need for users to remember multiple login details, making it more convenient and secure for users.
The ADFS server works by authenticating the user and then issuing a Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) token, which contains the user’s identity information. This token is then used by the applications and systems to authorize the user’s access. ADFS also provides the ability to integrate with other authentication systems, such as OAuth and OpenID Connect, to support a wider range of authentication scenarios.
ADFS is especially useful in scenarios where organizations need to provide secure access to cloud-based applications and services. With ADFS, users can access cloud-based applications using their corporate credentials, without the need to maintain a separate set of credentials for each cloud-based service. ADFS can also be used to federate identities across different organizations, enabling users from different organizations to access each other’s applications and services.
Overall, ADFS is an essential tool for organizations that need to provide secure, convenient, and seamless access to multiple systems and applications. By implementing ADFS, organizations can improve security, reduce the risk of identity theft and unauthorized access, and improve user productivity.
How does ADFS work?
ADFS is designed to provide single sign-on (SSO) functionality between different systems, including on-premises and cloud applications. To achieve this, ADFS uses a claims-based authentication model, which is based on the exchange of security tokens between different systems.
When a user attempts to access a protected resource, the relying party sends a request to ADFS for an authentication token. ADFS authenticates the user against the Active Directory Domain Services and creates a token containing the user’s identity and a set of claims. The token is then returned to the relying party, which grants access to the user based on the information contained in the token.
The security token is the cornerstone of the ADFS architecture, and it includes information about the user’s identity, the issuing authority, and a set of claims. Claims are statements about the user’s identity or attributes, such as their name, email address, group memberships, and so on. Claims can be used to make authorization decisions, such as granting access to specific resources or applications based on the user’s role or department.
ADFS uses a trust-based model to establish relationships between different systems, including trust relationships with the identity providers and trust relationships with the relying parties. Trust relationships enable ADFS to securely exchange tokens between different systems and ensure that only authorized users are granted access to protected resources.
Common use cases of ADFS
Single sign-on (SSO) is one of the most common use cases of ADFS. This allows users to access multiple applications and services with just one set of login credentials, improving productivity and simplifying the authentication process.
Partner collaboration is another common use case of ADFS. By setting up a trust relationship between organizations, ADFS enables users to access resources and applications that are hosted outside of their own organization, while maintaining security and control over their own identity data.
Web application proxy is a built-in role in ADFS that provides a secure way to access web applications from outside an organization’s network. This allows users to access applications remotely without the need for a VPN, while providing protection against cyber threats.
These are just a few examples of the many common use cases of ADFS. Whether you are looking to improve productivity, collaborate securely with partners, or provide secure remote access to web applications, ADFS can help you achieve your goals.
ADFS Features and Benefits
Single Sign-On (SSO): One of the main features of ADFS is SSO, which allows users to access multiple applications and systems with a single set of credentials. This reduces the need for users to remember and manage multiple passwords, making it more convenient and efficient for both users and IT administrators.
Federated Identity: ADFS allows for the sharing of identity information between organizations in a secure and controlled manner. This means that users can access resources from other organizations without the need for separate accounts or authentication. Federated identity is particularly useful for organizations that collaborate or share resources with partners or suppliers.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): ADFS provides additional security by allowing for MFA, which requires users to provide two or more forms of authentication before accessing resources. This can include something the user knows (such as a password), something the user has (such as a smart card), or something the user is (such as biometrics). MFA helps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and resources.
Overall, ADFS provides a range of features and benefits that make it a valuable tool for managing access to resources in organizations. From SSO to federated identity to MFA, ADFS can help improve security, efficiency, and convenience for users and IT administrators alike.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Single Sign-On (SSO) is one of the most powerful features of ADFS. It enables users to sign in to multiple applications and services with just one set of credentials. With SSO, users don’t need to remember different usernames and passwords for each application or service they use, making the login process more streamlined and efficient.
ADFS uses industry-standard protocols such as SAML and OAuth to enable SSO. SAML provides a secure method for exchanging authentication and authorization data between parties, while OAuth enables users to authorize third-party access to their resources without sharing their credentials.
With SSO, organizations can improve security by reducing the number of passwords users need to remember and manage, as well as simplify the user experience by providing seamless access to applications and services.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
Enhancing security: Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is an additional security layer that requires users to provide multiple forms of authentication before accessing resources. This can include a combination of something the user knows (like a password), something the user has (like a smart card), or something the user is (like a fingerprint).
Flexible options: ADFS supports a range of MFA options, including phone-based verification, smart card authentication, and biometric authentication. This allows organizations to choose the MFA option that best meets their security and usability requirements.
Reducing risk: By adding an extra layer of authentication, MFA can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access to resources. This is particularly important for organizations that handle sensitive data, such as financial institutions or healthcare providers.
Claims-based authentication is another important feature of ADFS. In this type of authentication, a user’s identity is represented by a set of claims or attributes that are presented to the relying party. These claims can include information such as the user’s name, email address, role, or group membership. By using claims-based authentication, ADFS allows for more flexible and fine-grained control over access to resources.
Claims-based authentication is often used in scenarios where users are accessing resources across different organizations or domains. ADFS can act as a federation server, providing a trust relationship between different organizations and enabling users to authenticate with their home organization’s identity provider and then access resources in other organizations without having to authenticate again.
Another benefit of claims-based authentication is that it allows for easier integration with other authentication systems, such as social identity providers like Facebook or Google. By accepting claims from these providers, ADFS can enable users to authenticate with their social identity and then access resources within the organization’s network.
What is new in Windows Server 2016?
Containers: Windows Server 2016 introduces support for containers that allow developers to build and deploy applications faster and with greater flexibility.
Nano Server: Windows Server 2016 also introduces the Nano Server, a stripped-down version of the operating system that is designed for cloud-based applications and microservices.
Virtualization: Windows Server 2016 includes a number of enhancements to its virtualization capabilities, such as nested virtualization and improved virtual machine management.
Security: Windows Server 2016 includes several new security features, including the ability to control access to sensitive data with just-in-time administration and the ability to shield virtual machines from compromised hosts.
Hyper-converged infrastructure: Windows Server 2016 also includes support for hyper-converged infrastructure, which enables businesses to combine compute, storage, and networking in a single, software-defined solution.
Enhanced security features
Windows Server 2016 provides enhanced security features, designed to protect organizations from threats and unauthorized access. These features include Just Enough Administration (JEA), which allows administrators to delegate specific tasks to users without giving them full administrative privileges.
Windows Defender has also been enhanced in Windows Server 2016, providing real-time protection against malware and other types of attacks. Additionally, Control Flow Guard (CFG) is a new security feature that helps prevent memory corruption vulnerabilities from being exploited by attackers.
Another new security feature is Device Guard, which helps prevent untrusted software from running on servers and workstations. It uses hardware and software features to validate the integrity of the system and ensure that only trusted applications are allowed to run.
ADFS version comparison
ADFS 2.0: Released in 2009, ADFS 2.0 introduced support for claims-based authentication and federation with external partners. It also provided Single Sign-On capabilities for web-based applications, as well as support for more protocols and token formats.
ADFS 3.0: Released in 2012 with Windows Server 2012 R2, ADFS 3.0 added Multi-factor Authentication support, allowing organizations to use additional factors beyond a user’s password for authentication. It also introduced support for OAuth2 and OpenID Connect protocols.
ADFS 4.0: Released in 2016 with Windows Server 2016, ADFS 4.0 introduced enhanced security features such as Privileged Access Management (PAM) and support for Windows Hello for Business, which enables biometric and PIN-based authentication for Windows devices.
Comparison between ADFS 2.0 and ADFS 4.0
User interface: ADFS 4.0 has a more modern, user-friendly interface compared to ADFS 2.0, which had an outdated look and feel.
Scalability: ADFS 4.0 has better scalability options, supporting more simultaneous connections and having a higher maximum token size than ADFS 2.0.
Integration: ADFS 4.0 offers better integration with other Microsoft products, such as Azure AD and Windows Server 2016, than ADFS 2.0 did with earlier versions of these products.
What’s new in ADFS 4.0?
Enhanced user interface: ADFS 4.0 provides a modern, responsive and customizable user interface for both administrators and end-users, which makes it easier to manage and use.
Seamless Azure AD integration: ADFS 4.0 provides seamless integration with Azure AD, which allows users to access cloud resources with on-premises credentials and enables organizations to control access to cloud applications.
Support for OpenID Connect: ADFS 4.0 supports OpenID Connect, an open standard for authentication and authorization that enables users to authenticate with multiple applications using a single set of credentials.
Improved performance and scalability: ADFS 4.0 introduces several performance and scalability improvements, including support for TLS 1.2, HTTP/2, and asynchronous processing, which enables it to handle more requests per second and provide faster response times.
Conditional Access policies: ADFS 4.0 introduces the ability to define conditional access policies, which allow administrators to specify conditions under which users can access applications, based on factors such as location, device, and user role.
Advantages of upgrading to ADFS 4.0
Improved security: ADFS 4.0 has several security enhancements compared to its predecessor. It includes support for certificate authentication and device authentication using Windows Hello for Business.
Improved user experience: ADFS 4.0 offers a more streamlined user experience. It supports single sign-on (SSO) for modern applications and provides a more intuitive interface for users. Additionally, it allows for conditional access policies, which can help reduce the number of times users are prompted for authentication.
Improved performance: ADFS 4.0 has several performance improvements. It includes a new token caching mechanism that can reduce the load on the server and improve response times. Additionally, it has a new claims caching mechanism that can help reduce the load on the network.
Upgrading to ADFS 4.0 can provide several benefits, including improved security, a better user experience, and better performance. However, it is important to carefully plan the upgrade process to ensure a smooth transition and minimize any potential disruptions.
Step-by-step guide to install ADFS on Windows Server 2016
Step 1: Prepare the server
Before starting the installation process, ensure that your server meets the minimum requirements for ADFS installation. You can use the Server Manager to add the required roles and features, including the Web Server (IIS) role, .NET Framework 4.5, and Windows Identity Foundation.
Step 2: Install ADFS
The installation of ADFS is straightforward and can be done through the Server Manager. Once you have added the required roles and features, go to the Add Roles and Features wizard and select Active Directory Federation Services. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation process.
Step 3: Configure ADFS
After the installation is complete, you need to configure ADFS to use your organization’s domain name and set up the trust relationship with your applications. The AD FS Management Console is the central tool for configuring and managing ADFS. Follow the steps provided in the console to complete the configuration.
AD DS – Before installing Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) on Windows Server 2016, the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) role must be installed and configured. AD DS is a prerequisite for ADFS because ADFS relies on AD DS for authentication and authorization.
Certificate authority – A certificate authority (CA) is required to issue a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate for use with ADFS. The certificate is used to encrypt traffic between the ADFS server and client applications. The certificate must be trusted by all parties involved in the authentication process.
Firewall – The firewall must be configured to allow traffic to and from the ADFS server. The ports required for ADFS to function are 443, 80, 389, and 63Port 443 is used for HTTPS traffic and is required for clients to connect to the ADFS server securely. Port 80 is used for HTTP traffic and is required for clients to connect to the ADFS server non-securely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ADFS available in Windows Server 2016?
Yes, ADFS is available in Windows Server 2016, and it comes as a built-in feature that can be installed through the Server Manager or PowerShell.
What version of ADFS is included in Windows Server 2016?
Windows Server 2016 comes with ADFS version 4.0, which has several new features and improvements over its predecessor, ADFS 3.0.
Can ADFS 3.0 be upgraded to ADFS 4.0 in Windows Server 2016?
Yes, it is possible to upgrade ADFS 3.0 to ADFS 4.0 in Windows Server 201However, it is recommended to carefully plan and test the upgrade process before implementing it in a production environment.
What are the system requirements for installing ADFS on Windows Server 2016?
The system requirements for installing ADFS on Windows Server 2016 are relatively low. ADFS can be installed on a server with at least 2 GB of RAM and 50 GB of available hard disk space, and it can run on both physical and virtual servers.
Are there any licensing requirements for using ADFS in Windows Server 2016?
ADFS is included as part of Windows Server 2016, so no additional licensing is required to use it. However, if you plan to use additional features such as Azure AD Connect or Azure AD Premium, you may need to purchase additional licenses from Microsoft.