I have applications that I wrote that use SAML and then a user database to define permissions for them all. And basically once a user signs on via our SSO they can use the applications with their defined perms.

I want to do the same thing for WP. Where do I start? I would like WP to recognize their session username before they login and then create wordpress cookie. I saw a root cookie plugin that would pass the user info to other wp sites but how about getting the session username to begin with?

I would like users to come to WP site and see that they are logged in with their username but I am open for other ways too.

Right now what is given to me for SAML authentication is:

  • app url: redirect to the SSO sign in
  • app key: hash to encrypt
  • uid
  • firstname
  • lastname
  • email
  • time (POST time is used for validation)

Note: I have just tried using the SAML2 plugin for WP. First it is a beta plugin and very confusing. Second I keep getting fatal error that it cannot find IDP information.

Would really just like to take the session uid I have an log a person in using that.

  • Out of curiosity, have you tried any plugins, like SAML 2.0 SSO? Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 20:49
  • @MatthewBoynes - I tried out an earlier version of that plugin maybe a year ago. Right now I am basically given an app url with an app key and a few fields and told to have fun (3rd party does our company's SSO). So on my custom apps I simply verify that they have a session uid sent from the SSO (redirects to the app url if they dont). Then I automatically authenticate based on the session uid on a user table that I maintain. This might not be the most secure way but it works because it is all internal users. I want the same session id to be WP username and log them in - no pass.
    – STing
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 16:59
  • So you already have the users synced to wordpress and present in wp_users or what? Or where are the permissions coming from so Wordpress knows what the user is able to do?
    – s1lv3r
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 13:28
  • @s1lv3r I do a join with LDAP data and wp_users perm fields to make my own wp_users table. The wp_users table works fine. In a test environment I just took out the password authentication and when I login stating a uid I get the right perms per user. The problem is how do I ensure that the uid is correct or keep someone from typing in whatever they want.
    – STing
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 14:17
  • The problem is how do I ensure that the uid is correct. As far as I understand that is the part where SAML comes in. I.e you have a local service provider which checks this information against the IdP. If you don't get the SAML SSO plugin working you can also try to do this yourself with simplesamlphp.org.
    – s1lv3r
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


If you will work with sessions, then init this at first in your plugin, theme.

add_action( 'init', 'my_start_session' );

function my_start_session() {

    if ( session_id() )

    @session_cache_limiter('private, must-revalidate'); //private_no_expire

Alternative use the library from Eric Mann: WP Session Manager, also his tutorial.


I have a really simple script that is linked https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/154802/what-do-i-need-to-do-to-fully-integrate-a-custom-session-login-into-wp.

Basically I am assuming that your SSO is secure, that you have the users in your database, and that you don't need to keep the session alive except for authentication. From my standpoint I just want to pass the user onto WP and let the WP user system do the rest. Hope this helps others doing session logins.

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