Infinispan Security #3: HotRod authentication

Let’s continue our excursus into the security features that are being developed within Infinispan 7.0 by having a look at how our high-performance cache remoting protocol HotRod was enhanced to support authentication.

Since Infinispan 5.3, HotRod has featured SSL/TLS support which, aside from encryption, also provides some form of authentication by optionally requiring client certificates. While this does indeed stop unauthorized clients from connecting to a remote cache, the level of access-control ends there. Now that we have full role-based authorization checks at the cache and container level, we want to be able to recognize users and map their roles accordingly.

As usual, we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but leverage existing security frameworks and integrate them into our existing platform. For this reason, the protocol chosen to implement HotRod authentication is SASL, which is in widespread use in other connection-oriented transports (e.g. LDAP, Memached, etc).

Using SASL we can support the following authentication mechanisms out of the box (since they are part of the standard JDK/JRE):

  • PLAIN where credentials are exchanged in clear-text (insecure, but easieast to setup)

  • DIGEST-MD5 where credentials are hashed using server-provided nonces

  • GSSAPI where clients can use Kerberos tokens

  • EXTERNAL where the client-certificate identity of the underlying transport is used as the credentials

More SASL mechanisms can be plugged in by using the Java Cryptography Archictecture (JCA).

Since our preferred server distribution is based on a stripped-down WildFly server, we are essentially reusing the Security Realms of the container. This gives us the ability to validate users and to also retrieve group membership. against a number of sources (property files, LDAP, etc).

The following is an example server configuration which uses the ApplicationRealm to authenticate and authorize users. Since the <identity-role-mapper> is in use, role names will be mapped 1:1 from the realm into Infinispan roles. The HotRod endpoint is using the SASL PLAIN mechanism. Note that two caches have been defined: the default cache, without authorization, and a secured cache, which instead requires authorization. This means that remote clients can access the default cache anonymously, but they will need to authenticate if they want to access the secured cache.

The following bit of code explains how to use the HotRod Java client to connect to the secured cache defined above:

All of the above is already available in Infinispan 7.0.0.Alpha5, so head on over to the download page to experience the goodness.

Posted by Tristan Tarrant on 2014-07-29
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