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Listing 6.5 Securing bid cancellation using declarative security management
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@DeclareRoles("BIDDER", "CSR", "ADMIN") Declares roles for bean @Stateless public class BidManagerBean implements BidManager { @RolesAllowed("CSR, ADMIN") Specifies roles with public void cancelBid(Bid bid, Item item) {...}
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@PermitAll public List<Bid> getBids(Item item) {...} }
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Permits all system roles access to method
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Listing 6.5 features some of the most commonly used security annotations defined by common metadata annotations for Java Platform Specification JSR-250, javax. annotation.security.DeclareRoles, javax.annotation.security.RolesAllowed, and javax.annotation.security.PermitAll. Two other annotations that we have not used but will discuss are javax.annotation.security.DenyAll and javax.annotation.security.RunAs. Let s start our analysis of the code and security annotations with the @DeclareRoles annotation. Declaring roles We highly recommend that you declare the security roles to be employed in your application, EJB module, EJB, or business methods. There are a few ways of declaring roles, one of which is through the @DeclareRoles annotation, which we use in listing 6.5 b. This annotation applies at either the method or the class level and consists of an array of role names. We are specifying that the BidManagerBean use
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Exploring EJB security
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the roles of BIDDER, CSR, and ADMIN. Alternatively, we could have specified roles for the entire enterprise application or EJB module through deployment descriptors. The ActionBazaar application could use the roles of guests, bidders, sellers, Power Sellers, CSRs, admins, and so on. If we never declare roles, the container will automatically build a list of roles by inspecting the @RolesAllowed annotation. Remember, when the application is deployed, the local system administrator must map each role to groups defined in the runtime security environment. Specifying authenticated roles The @RolesAllowed annotation is the crux of declarative security management. This annotation can be applied to either an EJB business method or an entire class. When applied to an entire EJB, it tells the container which roles are allowed to access any EJB method. On the other hand, we can use this annotation on a method to specify the authentication list for that particular method. The tremendous flexibility offered by this annotation becomes evident when you consider the fact that you can override class-level settings by reapplying the annotation at the method level (for example, to restrict access further for certain methods). However, we discourage such usage because at best it is convoluted and at worst it can cause subtle mistakes that are hard to discern. In listing 6.5, we specify that only CSR and ADMIN roles be allowed to cancel bids through the cancelBid method C. The @PermitAll and @DenyAll annotations are conveniences that perform essentially the same function as the @RolesAllowed annotation. @PermitAll and @DenyAll We can use the @PermitAll annotation to mark an EJB class or a method to be invoked by any role. We use this annotation in listing 6.5 D to instruct the container that any user can retrieve the current bids for a given item. You should use this annotation sparingly, especially at the class level, as it is possible to inadvertently leave security holes if it is used carelessly. The @DenyAll annotation does exactly the opposite of @PermitAll. That is, when used at either the class or the method level, it renders functionality inaccessible by any role. You might be wondering why you would ever use this annotation. Well, the annotation makes sense when you consider the fact that your application may be deployed in wide-ranging environments that you did not envision. You can essentially invalidate methods or classes that might be inappropriate for a particular environment without changing code by using the @DenyAll annotation. Just as with the @RolesAllowed annotation, when applied at the method level these annotations will override bean-level authorization settings.
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The three security annotations, @PermitAll, @DenyAll, and @RoleAllowed, cannot simultaneously be applied to the same class or the same method.
Let s now wrap up our discussion of declarative security management by discussing our final annotation, @RunAs. @RunAs The @RunAs annotation comes in handy if you need to dynamically assign a new role to the existing Principal in the scope of an EJB method invocation. You might need to do this, for example, if you re invoking another EJB within your method but the other EJB requires a role that is different from the current Principal s role. Depending on the situation, the new assumed role might be either more restrictive, lax, or neither. For example, the cancelBid method in listing 6.5 might need to invoke a statistics-tracking EJB that manages historical records in order to delete the statistical record of the canceled bid taking place. However, the method for deleting a historical record might require an ADMIN role. Using the @RunAs annotation, we can temporarily assign a CSR an ADMIN role so that the statistics-tracking EJB thinks an admin is invoking the method:
@RunAS("ADMIN") @RolesAllowed("CSR") public void cancelBid(Bid bid, Item item) {...}
You should use this annotation sparingly since like the @PermitAll annotation, it can open up security holes you might not have foreseen. As you can see, declarative security gives you access to a powerful authentication framework while staying mostly out of the way. The flexibility available to you through the relatively small number of relevant annotations should be apparent as well. If you have ever rolled out your own security or authentication system, one weakness might have crossed your mind already. The problem is that although you can authenticate a role using declarative security, what if you need to provide security settings specific to individuals, or even simple changes in method behavior based on the current Principal s role This is where programmatic EJB security steps onto the stage.
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