Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Weblogic Security

WebLogic Security Framework provides a simplified application programming interface (API) that can be used by security and application developers to define security services. WebLogic Security Framework also acts as an intermediary between the WebLogic containers (Web and EJB), the Resource containers, and the security providers. In this post, I describe a few concepts and features available in Weblogic Server 9.2 for authentication and authorization and auditing.
Authentication is the process of determining whether the client who it claims to be. Generally, authentication is accomplished by the client sending credentials (username/password, certificate, security token etc.) and the server verifying the credentials. WebLogic uses the authentication classes of the Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS), for authentication.
Identity Assertion
Weblogic also supports the concept of perimeter-based authentication, where the actual authentication process occurs at an application perimeter such as a Web server, firewall, or VPN, and outside of WebLogic Server. The perimeter authentication provider then asserts the identity to the Weblogic server using different "Security token types" (e.g., Microsoft Passport, SAML Assertions, or tokens from third-party commercial authentication products). The "security tokens" are validated by the Weblogic Server, which then assigns a username to the token. This username is used by the authentication providers to populate the "Subject" that will be used in authorization. IBM WebSphere implements this by the use of Trust Association Interceptors. WebLogic Server 's support for perimeter-based authentication supports the ability to propagate security tokes over multiple protocols, such as HTTP, and IIOP-CSIv2 (used for EJB layer security).
Authorization phase determines if the user has access to the requested application resource. Authorization in Weblogic is divided in to two steps
  1. Decision
  2. Adjudication (Enforce)

In this step, the WebLogic Security Framework uses the request parameters and user information to determine the roles associated with the user (for this the security framework uses the configured Role Mapping Providers). Based on the user's roles, the Authorization provider determines whether the subject is entitled to access the requested resource i.e the Authorization provider makes the Access Decision. If there are multiple Authorization providers configured, the WebLogic Security Framework delegates the job of reconciling any conflicts in the Access Decisions to the Adjudication provider
The Adjudication provider is required to tally the multiple Access Decisions and render a verdict. The Adjudication provider returns either a TRUE or FALSE verdict to the Authorization providers, which forward it to the resource container through the WebLogic Security Framework.
  • If the decision is TRUE, the resource container dispatches the request to the protected WebLogic resource.
  • If the decision is FALSE, the resource container throws a security exception that indicates that the requestor was not authorized to perform the requested access on the protected WebLogic resource.

The auditing process is initiated when a resource container passes a user's authentication information to the WebLogic Security Framework as part of a login request. If, in addition to providing authentication services, the Authentication provider is designed to post audit events, the Authentication provider instantiates an AuditEvent object. The AuditEvent object includes information such as the event type and an audit severity level. The Authentication provider then calls the Auditor Service in the WebLogic Security Framework, passing in the AuditEvent object. The Auditor Service passes the AuditEvent object to the configured Auditing providers' runtime classes, enabling audit event recording. Depending on the Auditing provider implementation, audit records may be written to a file, a database, or some other persistent storage medium.

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