Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Automic Blog, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff

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
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vivint to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. As a leading smart home technology provider, Vivint offers home security, energy management, home automation, local cloud storage, and high-speed Internet solutions to more than one million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The end result is a smart home solution that sav...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Opsani is the leading provider of deployment automation systems for running and scaling traditional enterprise applications on container infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nirmata will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nirmata provides a comprehensive platform, for deploying, operating, and optimizing containerized applications across clouds, powered by Kubernetes. Nirmata empowers enterprise DevOps teams by fully automating the complex operations and management of application containers and its underlying ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Opsani is creating the next generation of automated continuous deployment tools designed specifically for containers. How is continuous deployment different from continuous integration and continuous delivery? CI/CD tools provide build and test. Continuous Deployment is the means by which...