Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, John Wetherill

Related Topics: Java IoT, Cloud Security

Java IoT: Article

Effective Page Authorization In JavaServer Faces

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence in an overall in-depth security strategy. Web applications that follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture can, and should, have security implemented on all three layers. Normally it's the controller component that handles page authorization in MVC, the view layer that hides controls and information based on user authorization, and the model that enforces the business rules and input validation. However, it's up to the developer, based on an individual security policy and the programming technology used, to decide where to put security. Using pluggable validator components in JavaServer Faces (JSF), for example, developers may decide to verify user input on the view layer as well as on the model layer.

 JavaServer Faces, the new J2EE standard for building feature-rich Web applications with JEE 1.5, has few integrated security features. JSF generously delegates the task of implementing application security such as page authorization to the application developer, leaving many developers pondering where to start, where best to put security, and which security technology to choose.

This article aims to answer such questions for authorization in JavaServer Faces, demonstrating how a custom PhaseListener that uses J2EE container-managed security can be used to implement access control for JSF pages. Besides page authorization, the security PhaseListener supports protocol switching between HTTP and HTTPS, a common requirement of applications that work with sensitive data on a Web page.

The J2EE Security Choices
The J2EE platform provides two built-in security technologies for the application developer to use: the Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) and container-managed security, also known as J2EE security.

The Java Authentication and Authorization Service is a J2SE 1.4 security standard designed for the Java desktop that's also used as an implementation technology for security in J2EE. The JAAS authentication infrastructure is built as a Java version of the Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM) architecture that allows one or more authentication providers to be used for user identification. Before JAAS, the Java 2 security platform was code-centric, determining access privileges based solely on the location of the Java sources. Using JAAS, Java security now also looks at the authenticated user when evaluating access control to resources. JAAS's benefit is its ability to implement fine-grained access control through external Java permission classes, which associate users with a list of resources and allowed actions.

Authentication and authorization in J2EE security is configured declaratively in the application's web.xml deployment descriptor and handled by the J2EE container at runtime. Working with APIs defined in the J2EE servlet standard, application developers don't have to worry about the implementation of security in a container. In container-managed security, authorization is enforced on URL patterns, which are absolute or relative URLs. This however also means that authorization is only enforced on requests that are initiated by the client, not as server-side forward requests.

Ease of use, the clean separation of security definition and application code, and portability across application servers are the main reasons for the wide adoption of container-managed security among business application developers. J2EE security is sufficient to implement many common security use cases. As a reflection of its popularity and its portability, container-managed security is used in the code examples of this article to illustrate effective page authorization in JavaServer Faces.

Container-Managed Security in J2EE
In container-managed security, a user is granted access to protected URL resources through security roles defined in the web.xml deployment descriptor. Security roles in J2EE are logical names used in Web applications that are mapped during or after deployment to user groups that exist on the target application server platform.

Listing 1 Web.xml excerpt granting the app_user security role access to the protected URL resource /faces/protected/*

<security-constraint>
    <Web-resource-collection>
    <Web-resource-name>Members</Web-resource-name>
    <url-pattern>/faces/protected/*</url-pattern>
    </Web-resource-collection>
    <auth-constraint>
       <role-name>app_user</role-name>
    </auth-constraint>
</security-constraint>
...
<security-role>
    <role-name>app_user</role-name>
</security-role>

To access a protected application resource, Web application users must first authenticate, which in container-managed security is handled by the J2EE container. Either the application developer or the application deployer configures the type of authentication in the web.xml deployment descriptor.

Listing 2 Basic authentication defined for the jazn.com realm

<login-config>
     <auth-method>BASIC</auth-method>
     <realm-name>jazn.com</realm-name>
</login-config>

To check authorization programmatically in an J2EE application - like in JavaServer Faces - application developers use the isUserInRole method in the servlet API. This isUserInRole method is also exposed via a convenience method in JavaServer Faces through the static FacesContext class. Role names referenced in application code ought to be mapped to roles defined in the web.xml file using the <security-role-ref> element if the role names don't match. Using the <security-role-ref> element, developers don't have to be aware of the security role names that exist in the web.xml descriptor when developing an application.

Listing 3 Mapping the "user" role name used in the application code to the security role name "manager_role" defined in the web.xml file

<security-role-ref>
     <role-name>user</role-name>
     <role-link>app_user</role-link>
</security-role-ref>

If the authenticated user isn't authorized to access the requested URL resource, the J2EE container responds with HTTP error 403, indicating a bad request. A HTTP error 401 is returned if a user cancels the authentication process. HTTP error codes and Java exceptions are handled declaratively in the web.xml file using the <error-page> element.

Listing 4 Redirecting a request in response to unauthorized page access handling error code 403 and 401

<error-page>
     <error-code>403</error-code>
     <location>Error.jsp</location>
</error-page>
<error-page>
     <error-code>401</error-code>
     <location>Logon_cancelled.jsp</location>
</error-page>

If SSL is required to ensure secure communication when accessing a specific Web resource, the <security-constraint> element added for a protected resource contains an additional <user-data-constraint> element. Setting the transport guarantee to "confidential" indicates that SSL is required.


More Stories By Duncan Mills

Duncan Mills is senior director of product management for Oracle's Application Development Tools - including the JDeveloper IDE, and the Oracle Application Development Framework. He has been in the IT industry for the past 19 years working with Oracle, Java, and a variety of more obscure programming languages and frameworks along the way. Duncan is the co-author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle JDeveloper 10g for Forms and PL/SQL Developers - a Guide to Web Development with Oracle ADF.

More Stories By Frank Nimphius

Frank Nimphius is a principal product manager for application development tools at Oracle Corporation. As a conference speaker, Frank represents the Oracle J2EE development team at J2EE conferences world wide, including various Oracle user groups and the Oracle Open World conference.

Comments (6) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
y_alomoush 09/01/08 04:29:19 PM EDT

Hi Duncan and Frank,

Thanks for your great efforts.

It is a job well done. In fact,I have installed the module and plugged it to my own application for evaluation purposes.However, I have found a scenario where a user can access into a unauthorized page, I don't know if I can call it as a bug or not.

The scenario is as the following:
1-start the application by calling a page that requires authentication and authorization.
2-the system shall direct you to the login page.

3-enter a correct username/password but not authorized to access that page.

3-system shall redirect you to error page using the sendError method.

4-call the same page again (using the same session). the system strangely forward you to the page that you are not authorized to access.(because the page is already cached as an authorized page)

I think after the page is redirected to the error page the handleSecurity method must return, in this case, false instead of retuning true, this in order not to cache an unauthorized page.

Thank yo once again.

keerthi 09/21/06 10:22:56 AM EDT

Hi Duncan and Frank,

This article is really an interesting one. I found it at a right moment of time as I was trying to implement Page level security in a Project based on JSF.
I was wondering the article is based on Container-Managed Security or reading roles from web.xml. I have a requirement where I need to read the roles from database and not from web.xml, can I achieve this security feature by implementing the points mentioned in this article.
Awaiting for your response.
Thanks and Regards,
Keerthi.

SYS-CON Italy News Desk 08/10/06 05:42:31 PM EDT

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence in an overall in-depth security strategy. Web applications that follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture can, and should, have security implemented on all three layers. Normally it's the controller component that handles page authorization in MVC, the view layer that hides controls and information based on user authorization, and the model that enforces the business rules and input validation. However, it's up to the developer, based on an individual security policy and the programming technology used, to decide where to put security. Using pluggable validator components in JavaServer Faces (JSF), for example, developers may decide to verify user input on the view layer as well as on the model layer.

AJAXWorld News Desk 08/10/06 05:26:41 PM EDT

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence in an overall in-depth security strategy. Web applications that follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture can, and should, have security implemented on all three layers. Normally it's the controller component that handles page authorization in MVC, the view layer that hides controls and information based on user authorization, and the model that enforces the business rules and input validation. However, it's up to the developer, based on an individual security policy and the programming technology used, to decide where to put security. Using pluggable validator components in JavaServer Faces (JSF), for example, developers may decide to verify user input on the view layer as well as on the model layer.

JDJ News Desk 07/26/06 05:18:34 PM EDT

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence in an overall in-depth security strategy. Web applications that follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture can, and should, have security implemented on all three layers. Normally it's the controller component that handles page authorization in MVC, the view layer that hides controls and information based on user authorization, and the model that enforces the business rules and input validation. However, it's up to the developer, based on an individual security policy and the programming technology used, to decide where to put security. Using pluggable validator components in JavaServer Faces (JSF), for example, developers may decide to verify user input on the view layer as well as on the model layer.

JDJ News Desk 07/26/06 04:40:02 PM EDT

Application security - the art of applications defending themselves - represents an important line of defence in an overall in-depth security strategy. Web applications that follow the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture can, and should, have security implemented on all three layers. Normally it's the controller component that handles page authorization in MVC, the view layer that hides controls and information based on user authorization, and the model that enforces the business rules and input validation. However, it's up to the developer, based on an individual security policy and the programming technology used, to decide where to put security. Using pluggable validator components in JavaServer Faces (JSF), for example, developers may decide to verify user input on the view layer as well as on the model layer.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connected devices. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sarah Cooper, VP Business of Development at M2Mi, will d...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In this session, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, will describe how to revolutionize your architecture and...
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
Thanks to widespread Internet adoption and more than 10 billion connected devices around the world, companies became more excited than ever about the Internet of Things in 2014. Add in the hype around Google Glass and the Nest Thermostat, and nearly every business, including those from traditionally low-tech industries, wanted in. But despite the buzz, some very real business questions emerged – mainly, not if a device can be connected, or even when, but why? Why does connecting to the cloud create greater value for the user? Why do connected features improve the overall experience? And why do...
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participa...
Imagine a world where targeting, attribution, and analytics are just as intrinsic to the physical world as they currently are to display advertising. Advances in technologies and changes in consumer behavior have opened the door to a whole new category of personalized marketing experience based on direct interactions with products. The products themselves now have a voice. What will they say? Who will control it? And what does it take for brands to win in this new world? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zack Bennett, Vice President of Customer Success at EVRYTHNG, will answer these questions a...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
The multi-trillion economic opportunity around the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is emerging as the hottest topic for investors in 2015. As we connect the physical world with information technology, data from actions, processes and the environment can increase sales, improve efficiencies, automate daily activities and minimize risk. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ed Maguire, Senior Analyst at CLSA Americas, will describe what is new and different about IoT, explore financial, technological and real-world impact across consumer and business use cases. Why now? Significant corporate and venture...
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...