Using the JDBC Realm for User Authentication
Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 8
The Java EE Tutorial

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Using the JDBC Realm for User Authentication

An authentication realm, sometimes called a security policy domain or security domain, is a scope over which an application server defines and enforces a common security policy. A realm contains a collection of users, who may or may not be assigned to a group. GlassFish Server comes preconfigured with the file, certificate, and administration realms. An administrator can also set up LDAP, JDBC, digest, or custom realms.

An application can specify in its deployment descriptor which realm to use. If the application does not specify a realm, GlassFish Server uses its default realm, the file realm. If an application specifies that a JDBC realm is to be used for user authentication, GlassFish Server will retrieve user credentials from a database. The application server uses the database information and the enabled JDBC realm option in the configuration file.

A database provides an easy way to add, edit, or delete users at runtime and enables users to create their own accounts without any administrative assistance. Using a database has an additional benefit: providing a place to securely store any extra user information. A realm can be thought of as a database of user names and passwords that identify valid users of a web application or set of web applications with an enumeration of the list of roles associated with each valid user. Access to specific web application resources is granted to all users in a particular role, instead of enumerating a list of associated users. A user name can have any number of roles associated with it.

Two of the tutorial case studies, Chapter 61, "Duke’s Tutoring Case Study Example," and Chapter 62, "Duke’s Forest Case Study Example," use a JDBC realm for user authentication.

To Configure a JDBC Authentication Realm

GlassFish Server enables administrators to specify a user’s credentials (user name and password) in the JDBC realm instead of in the connection pool. This prevents other applications from browsing the database tables for user credentials. By default, storing passwords as clear text is not supported in the JDBC realm. Under normal circumstances, passwords should not be stored as clear text.

  1. Create the database tables in which user credentials for the realm will be stored.

  2. Add user credentials to the database tables you created.

  3. Create a JDBC connection pool for the database.

    You can use the Administration Console or the command line to create a connection pool.

  4. Create a JDBC resource for the database.

    You can use the Administration Console or the command line to create a JDBC resource.

  5. Create a realm.

    This step needs to associate the resource with the realm, define the tables and columns for users and groups used for authentication, and define the digest algorithm that will be used for storing passwords in the database.

    You can use the Administration Console or the command line to create a realm.

  6. Modify the deployment descriptor for your application to specify the JDBC realm.

    • For an enterprise application in an EAR file, modify the glassfish-application.xml file.

    • For a web application in a WAR file, modify the web.xml file.

    • For an enterprise bean in an EJB JAR file, modify the glassfish-ejb-jar.xml file.

      For example, for a hypothetical application, the web.xml file could specify the jdbcRealm realm, as follows:

      <login-config>
          <auth-method>FORM</auth-method>
          <realm-name>jdbcRealm</realm-name>
          <form-login-config>
              <form-login-page>/login.xhtml</form-login-page>
              <form-error-page>/login.xhtml</form-error-page>
          </form-login-config>
      </login-config>
      <security-constraint>
          <web-resource-collection>
              <web-resource-name>Secure Pages</web-resource-name>
              <description/>
              <url-pattern>/admin/*</url-pattern>
          </web-resource-collection>
          <auth-constraint>
              <role-name>ADMINS</role-name>
          </auth-constraint>
      </security-constraint>

      Form-based login is specified for all web pages under /admin. Access to those pages will be allowed only to users in the ADMINS role.

  7. Assign security roles to users or groups of users in the realm.

    To assign a security role to a group or to a user, add a security-role-mapping element to the application server-specific deployment descriptor, in this case glassfish-web.xml:

    <security-role-mapping>
        <role-name>USERS</role-name>
        <group-name>USERS</group-name>
    </security-role-mapping>
    <security-role-mapping>
        <role-name>ADMINS</role-name>
        <group-name>ADMINS</group-name>
    </security-role-mapping>

    Since GlassFish Server users are assigned to groups during the user creation process, this is more efficient than mapping security roles to individual users.


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