Microsoft Clients Specify Unsupported Authentication Context

Aaron Howell aaron.howell at
Sun Nov 16 19:46:03 EST 2014

At this point in time we have forced users coming through for these applications by identifying "wauth=“ in the query to authenticate off of ADFS by setting the MSISIPSelectionPersistent cookie at the load balancer.

Not ideal - but a valid workaround until we can sort out the ADFS issue


On 13 Nov 2014, at 7:20 am, Mike Wiseman <mike.wiseman at<mailto:mike.wiseman at>> wrote:


We've noticed in the last week or so that SAML requests from our on-prem ADFS to our Shibboleth idp handling Office 365 are including a RequestedAuthnContext and AuthnContextClassRef of:

These are coming from new Microsoft rich clients that apparently have changed how authentication is being done - I don't have docs from Microsoft on hand so I don't know exactly what's going on yet. Up to now, rich client authentication was handled by ADFS and web authentication was handled by Shibboleth.

The idp responded with a SAML 'AuthnFailed' response due to the inability to handle the specified authentication method. I did a little testing and tried to add the authentication method to the RemoteUser login handler (idp v-2.3.8). So the login handler was configured with three methods instead of two - the existing two are:


This resulted in the SAML request being accepted, and the rich client environment presenting the end user with our webSSO login page (!). But, on processing of the credentials, the idp sent another AuthnFailed response saying that the login handler used one of the existing authentication methods instead of the one requested. In doing some googling, I saw a similar question in which the answer was that LoginHandlers are fixed to handle specific authentication methods only and that a new LoginHandler must be built to handle new methods even if the method identifier is meant to invoke an existing authentication method.

We are working on a few possibilities - one is getting the ADFS SP to alter the SAML request. But for now, would I need to write a custom Login Handler for the new authentication method? Any other thoughts?


Mike Wiseman
Manager, Information Security
Information Technology Services
University of Toronto

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