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3.12 Secure E-Business Request Flow

We are now ready to revisit the simple e-business request flow presented in Section 3.6 on page 63 with the security semantics added to the flow. The secure e-business request flow takes the security model and security technologies available in the J2EE environment into account and depicts the use of those components.

Figure 3.7 enhances the diagram depicted in Figure 3.3 on page 63 and shows how the J2EE security technologies presented in this chapter can play a role in a secure e-business request flow.

03fig07.gifFigure 3.7. Secure E-Business Request Flow

Let us consider the request flow discussed in Section 3.6 on page 63 and understand how security technologies play a role when that request is secured. A user, say, Bob, invokes URL http://samples.com/servlet/account, which is handled by the Web container that hosts the account servlet. Based on the security constraints defined, the URI /servlet/account is a protected resource. The login configuration associated with the Web application is set to BASIC. Therefore, when the request arrives, the Web container issues an HTTP 401 response back to the browser. Bob resubmits his request by providing his user ID (bob) and his password (see step 1 in Figure 3.7). The Web container validates the user ID and password by authenticating the pair against the underlying user registry.

After the credentials are validated, the Web container performs an authorization check. The URI is protected in a way to grant access only to the Teller role. The container checks whether user Bob is granted the role (see step 2 in Figure 3.7). As Bob has been granted the Teller role, he is allowed to access the URI.

The servlet invokes the AccountBean enterprise bean, and the request is dispatched to the enterprise bean. The delegation policy on the servlet is not set to run-as, which means that the downstream requests will be performed by using the caller's identity. In this case, the caller is Bob, and therefore the identity under which the enterprise bean is called consists of Bob's credentials, as depicted in step 3 in Figure 3.7.

The Web container dispatches the request to the EJB container when the account servlet makes a call to the AccountBean enterprise bean. The request is sent over IIOP. Given that this request is sent over a secure environment, the CSIv2 protocol is in effect (see Section 3.3 on page 61). The servers hosting the Web container and the EJB container establish a secure association using the CSIv2 technology as depicted in step 4 in Figure 3.7. Based on a successful establishment of the connection and the validity of Bob's credentials, the received identity at the EJB container is Bob's.

The connections between the Web server and the Web container, and the Web container and the EJB container are over SSL. This ensures confidentiality and integrity of the messages sent over the wire. It is essential for all communications in an enterprise to be over a secure connection. JSSE is used to establish the SSL connection as depicted in step 5 in Figure 3.7.

The AccountBean enterprise bean can also be invoked from a Java client. In this case, a user, say, Alice, sends the request directly over IIOP. The request is made from a J2EE client. In this case, the J2EE security technology used for authentication and authorization is JAAS, which is discussed in detail in Chapter 9 on page 289. The client is configured with a javax.security.auth.callback.CallbackHandler and performs a JAAS login against the server hosting the EJB container (step 6 in Figure 3.7). Alice needs to provide a valid user ID and password pair. Then, she can perform a method invocation on the AccountBean enterprise bean. J2EE supports a Java client to submit a user ID and password pair over an IIOP message. Using the CSIv2 protocol, the user ID and password pair is in a Generic Security Services Username Password (GSSUP) token within the CSIv2 ESTABLISH_CONTEXT message.4 In order for this communication to be protected, transport-level SSL is recommended.

The AccountBean enterprise bean is protected by J2EE declarative security. A method permission definition declares the enterprise bean's methods to be accessible only by those who are granted the Teller role. Both users, Bob and Alice, are granted the Teller role. Therefore, the requests that come through the servlet and the one directly submitted are allowed to be invoked. The AccountBean enterprise bean is succesfully accessed after the authorization check.

The AccountBean enterprise bean needs to access the data source in order to retrieve the account information. The bean uses a JCA connection manager to obtain a connection to an EIS. When the connection is obtained, based on the connector security configuration, an identity is associated with the connection. The admin identity is used to obtain the connection and access the back-end EIS. This access is enforced by the JCA capability and ensures that the EIS is accessed securely, based on the security configuration, as depicted in step 7 in Figure 3.7.

As illustrated in the simple request flow enhanced with security characteristics, the J2EE security model provides the capability and infrastructure to perform secure transactions in an e-business environment.

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