Eventually I have managed to check VeriSign’s SeatBelt a little bit more. SeatBelt is a add-on for Firefox which supports users managing different OpenID providers directly from within their browser and makes logging in to OpenID enabled websites rather foolproof. Additionally it helps detecting phishing sites and is displaying a warning message to users.
How Does it Work?
After installing the add-on and restarting the browser users can add links to their OpenID providers; currently SeatBelt is supported by VeriSign’s own PIP, myOpenID, myXlogon, and AOL. It is also possible to add a delegation URL and the corresponding provider.
Update (Sept 10): It is a little bit difficult to find the correct URL for the AOL Identity Provider, so here it is: https://api.screenname.aol.com/auth
It might have been posted somewhere else, though I have discovered it in the comments of this blog post on the AOL developers site.
If you are not logged in to your provider already – it’s possible to enable a login at he default provider at the start of the browser – SeatBelt indicates that you are logged off by displaying an icon in the bookmark bar of the browser (don’t be fooled by the German messages, by default they are English).
So when you are on an OpenID enabled website and click into the OpenID sign in field SeatBelt tells you that you are on website supporting OpenID authentication and asks if you would like to sign in to your provider.
It then redirects you to your provider’s login page which is also indicated by changing the colour of the icon:
Then you are back to the OpenID enabled website, the sign in field is auto-filled and you can log in. Pretty easy.
Occasionally the icon disappears from my browser, especially when starting the browser again. I haven’t discovered any scheme to reproduce it. I have to go to the add-on dialogue of the browser to make it visible again.
Also it doesn’t detect all OpenID enabled websites, e.g. the sign in field on Ex.plode.us is not detected. Though I guess the problem might be Ex.plode.us’ OpenD implementation.
Though apart from those problems it works well. SeatBelt is especially useful for people who have at least accounts at two of the supported providers and actually use them on different sites. It makes switching providers very simple because users don’t have to browse to their provider’s login page first.