Friday, April 5, 2019

Performance gain for web service requests in Apache CXF

In this post I want to talk about a recent performance gain for JAX-WS web service requests I made in Apache CXF. It was prompted by a mail to the CXF users list. The scenario was for a JAX-WS web service where certain requests are secured using WS-SecurityPolicy, and other requests are not. The problem was that the user observed that the security interceptors were always invoked in CXF, even for the requests that had no security applied to the message, and that this resulted in a noticeable performance penalty for large requests.

The reason for the performance penalty is that CXF needs to convert the request into a Document Object Model to apply WS-Security (note there is also a streaming WS-Security implementation available, but the performance is roughly similar). CXF needs to perform this conversion as it requires access to the full Document to perform XML Signature verification, etc. on the request. So even for the insecure request, it would apply CXF's SAAJInInterceptor. Then it would iterate through the security headers of the request, find that there was none present, and skip security processing.

However when thinking about this problem, I realised that before invoking the SAAJInInterceptor, we could check to see whether a security header is actually present in the request (and whether it matches the configured "actor" if one is configured). CXF makes the message headers available in DOM form, but not the SOAP Body (unless SAAJInInterceptor is called). If no matching security header is available, then we can skip security processing, and instead just perform WS-SecurityPolicy assertion using a set of empty results.

This idea is implemented in CXF for the 3.3.2 release via the task CXF-8010. To test what happens, I added a test-case to github here. This creates a war file with a service with two operations, one that is not secured, and one that has a WS-SecurityPolicy asymmetric binding applied to the operations. Both operations contain two parameters, an integer and a String description.

To test it, I added a JMeter test-case here. It uses 10 threads to call the insecure operation 30,000 times. The description String in each request contains the URL encoded version of the WS-Security specification to test what happens with a somewhat large request.

Here are the results using CXF 3.3.1:
and here are the results using the CXF 3.3.2-SNAPSHOT code with the fix for CXF-8010 applied:
Using CXF 3.3.1 the throughput is 1604.25 requests per second, whereas with CXF 3.3.2 the throughput is 1795.26 requests per second, a gain of roughly 9%. For a more complex SOAP Body I would expect the gain to be a lot greater.

Friday, March 29, 2019

HTTP Signature support in Apache CXF

Apache CXF provides support for the HTTP Signatures draft spec since the 3.3.0 release. Up to this point, JAX-RS message payloads could be signed using either XML Security or else using JOSE. In particular, the JOSE functionality can be used to also sign HTTP headers. However it doesn't allow the possibility to sign the HTTP method and Path, something that HTTP Signature supports. In this post we'll look at how to use HTTP Signatures with Apache CXF.

I uploaded a sample project to github to see how HTTP Signature can be used with CXF:
  • cxf-jaxrs-httpsig: This project contains a test that shows how to use the HTTP Signature functionality in Apache CXF to sign a message to/from a JAX-RS service.

1) Client configuration

The client configuration to both sign the outbound request and verify the service response is configured in the test code:

Two JAX-RS providers are added - CreateSignatureClientFilter creates a signature on the outbound request, and VerifySignatureClientFilter verifies a signature on the response. The keys used to sign the request and verify the response are configured in properties files, that are referenced via the "" and "" configuration tags:

Here we can see that a keystore is being used to retrieve the private key for signing the outbound request. If you wish to retrieve keys from some other source, then instead of using configuration properties it's best to configure the MessageSigner class directly on the CreateSignatureClientFilter.

By default CXF will add all HTTP headers to the signature. In addition, a client will also include the HTTP method and path using the "(request-target)" header. By default, the signature algorithm is "rsa-sha256", of course it is possible to configure this. A secured request using HTTP signature looks like the following:

2) Service configuration

The service configuration is defined in spring. Two different JAX-RS providers are used on the service side - VerifySignatureFilter is used to verify a signature on the client request, and CreateSignatureFilter is used to sign the response message.

For more information on how to use HTTP Signatures with Apache CXF, refer to the CXF documentation.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Using authorization with JWT tokens in Apache CXF

JSON Web Tokens (JWT) have been covered extensively on this blog (for example here). In this post we will cover how JWT tokens can be used for authorization when sent to a JAX-RS web service in Apache CXF. In particular, we will show how Apache CXF 3.3.0 supports claims based access control with JWT tokens.

1) JWT with RBAC

JWT tokens can be used for the purpose of authentication in a web service context, by verifying the signature on the token and taking the "sub" claim as the authenticated principal. This assumes no proof of possession of the token, something we will revisit in a future blog post. Once this is done we have the option of performing an authorization check on the authenticated principal. This can be done easily via RBAC by using a claim in the token to represent a role.

Apache CXF has a SimpleAuthorizingInterceptor class, which can map web service operations to role names. If the authenticated principal is not associated with the role that is required to access the operation, then an exception is thrown. Here is an example of how to configure a JAX-RS web service in CXF with the SimpleAuthorizingInterceptor for JWT:
Here the JwtAuthenticationFilter has been configured with a "roleClaim" property of "role". It then extracts the configured claim from the authenticated token and uses it for the RBAC authorization decision. To see this functionality in action, look at the corresponding test-case in my github repo.

2) JWT with CBAC

Since CXF 3.3.0, we can also use the Claims annotations in CXF (that previously only worked with SAML tokens) to perform authorization checks on requests that contain JWT tokens. This allows us to specify more fine-grained authorization requirements on the token, as opposed to the RBAC approach above. For example, we can annotate our service endpoint as follows:

Here we can see a "role" claim is required which must match either the value "boss" or "ceo". We can enable claims based authorization by adding the ClaimsAuthorizingFilter as a provider of the endpoint, with the "securedObject" parameter being the service implementation:

We can specify multiple claims annotations and combine them in different ways, please see the CXF webpage for more information. To see this functionality in action, look at the corresponding test-case in my github repo.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Deploying an Apache Camel route to Apache Karaf

In the previous blog post, we showed how to use Apache Camel to query an Apache Kafka broker, which is secured using kerberos. In this post, we will build on the previous blog post by showing how to deploy our Camel route to Apache Karaf. Karaf is an application runtime container that makes it incredibly easy to deploy simple applications via its "hot deploy" feature. As always, there are a few slightly tricky considerations when using kerberos, which is the purpose of this post.

As a pre-requisite to this article, please follow the previous blog post to set up Apache Kafka using kerberos, and test that the Camel route can retrieve from the topic we created successfully.

1) Configuring the Kerberos JAAS Login Module in Karaf

Download and extract the latest version of the Apache Karaf runtime (4.2.3 was used in this post). Before starting Karaf, we need to pass through a system property pointing to the krb5.conf file created in our Kerby KDC. This step is not necessary if you are using the standard location in the filesystem for krb5.conf. Open 'bin/karaf' and add the following to the list of system properties:
  • \
Now start Karaf via "bin/karaf". Karaf uses JAAS for authentication (see the documentation here). In the console, enter "jaas:" and hit 'tab' to see the possibilities. For example, "jaas:realm-list" displays the JAAS realms that are currently configured.

Recall that our Camel route needs to configure a JAAS LoginModule for Kerberos. In the example given in the previous post, this was configured by setting the Java System property "" to point to the JAAS configuration file. We don't want to do that with Karaf, as otherwise we will end up overriding the other JAAS LoginModules that are installed.

Instead, we will take advantage of Karaf's "hot deploy" feature to add the Kerberos Login Module we need to Karaf. Drop the following blueprint XML file into Karaf's deploy directory, changing the keytab location with the correct path to the keytab file:

For Karaf to pick this up, we need to register the blueprint feature via "feature:install aries-blueprint". Now we should see our LoginModule configured via "jaas:realm-list":

2) Configuring the Camel route in Karaf

Next we will hot deploy our Camel route as a blueprint file in Karaf. Copy the following file into the deploy directory:

Then we need to install a few dependencies in Karaf. Add the Camel repo via "repo-add camel 2.23.1", and install the relevant Camel dependencies via: "feature:install camel camel-kafka". Our Camel route should then automatically start, and will retrieve the messages from the Kafka topic and write them to the filesystem, as configured in the route. The message payload and headers are logged in "data/log/karaf.log".

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Using the Apache Camel Kafka component with Kerberos

Apache Camel is a well-known integration framework available at the Apache Software Foundation. It comes with a huge number of components to integrate with pretty much anything you can think of. Naturally, it has a dedicated component to communicate with the popular Apache Kafka project. In this blog entry, we'll show first how to use Apache Camel as a consumer for a Kafka topic. Then we will show how to configure things when we are securing the Kafka broker with kerberos, something that often causes problems.

1) Setting up Apache Kafka

First let's set up Apache Kafka. Download and install it (this blog post uses Kafka 2.0.0), and then start up Zookeeper and the broker, as well as creating a "test" topic and a producer for that topic as follows:
  • bin/ config/
  • bin/ config/
  • bin/ --create --zookeeper localhost:2181 --replication-factor 1 --partitions 1 --topic test
  • bin/ --broker-list localhost:9092 --topic test --producer.config config/
Type a few messages into the producer console to make sure that it is working.

2) Consuming from Kafka using Apache Camel

Now we'll look at how to set up Apache Camel to consume from Kafka. I put a project up on github here for this purpose. The Camel route is defined in Spring, and uses the Camel Kafka component to retrieve messages from the broker, and to write them out to the target/results folder:
Simply run "mvn clean install" and observe the logs indicating that Camel has retrieved the messages you put into the topic with the producer above. Then check "target/results" to see the files containing the message bodies.

3) Securing Apache Kafka with Kerberos

So far so good. Now let's look at securing the Kafka broker using kerberos. I wrote a previous blog post to show how to use Apache Kerby as a KDC with Kafka, so please follow the steps outlined here, skipping the parts about configuring the consumer.

4) Consuming from Kafka using Apache Camel and Kerberos

To make our Camel route work with Kafka and Kerberos, a few changes are required. Just as we did for the Kafka producer, we need to set the "" and "" system properties for Camel. You can do this in the example by editing the "pom.xml" and adding something like this under "systemPropertyVariables" of the surefire configuration:
  • <>/</
  • <>/</>
Replacing the paths to Kafka and Kerby appropriately (refer to the previous blog post on Kafka + Kerberos if this does not make sense). Next we need to make some changes to the Camel route itself. Add the following configuration to the Camel configuration for the Kafka component:
  • &amp;saslKerberosServiceName=kafka&amp;securityProtocol=SASL_PLAINTEXT
Camel uses "GSSAPI" as the default SASL mechanism, and so we don't have to configure that. Now re-run "mvn clean install" and you will see the Camel route get a ticket from the Kerby KDC and consuming messages successfully from the Kafka topic.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Validating kerberos tokens from different realms in Apache CXF

We've covered on this blog before how to configure an Apache CXF service to validate kerberos tokens. However, what if we have a use-case where we want to have multiple endpoints validate kerberos tokens that are in different realms? As Java uses system properties to configure kerberos, things can get a bit tricky if we want to co-locate the services in the same JVM. In this article we'll show how it's done.

1) The test scenario

The scenario is that we have two KDCs. The first KDC has realm "", with users "alice" and "bob/". The second KDC has realm "", with users "carol" and "dave/". We have a single service with two different endpoints - one which will authenticate users in "", and the second that will authenticate users in "". Both endpoints have keytabs that we have exported from the KDC for "bob" and "dave".

2) Kerberos configuration

Both endpoints have to share the same Kerberos configuration, due to the fact that Java uses system properties to set up JAAS with the Krb5LoginModule. We need to set the following system properties:
  • - The path to the JAAS configuration file for the Krb5LoginModule
  • - The path to the krb5.conf kerberos configuration file
The JAAS configuration file for our service looks like the following:

Here we have two entries for "bob" and "dave", each pointing to a keytab file. Note that the principal contains the realm name. This is important as we have no default_realm in the krb5.conf file. The krb5.conf file looks like this:

Here we configure how to reach both KDCs for our different realms.

3) Service configuration

Next, we'll look at how to configure the services. We will show how it's done for a JAX-WS service, but similar configuration exists for JAX-RS. The client will pass the kerberos token in a BinarySecurityToken security header in the message, according to the WS-Security specs. We'll assume the service is using a WS-SecurityPolicy that requires a kerberos token (for more details see here). Here is a sample spring configuration for an endpoint for "dave":

We have a JAX-WS endpoint with a "ws-security.bst.validator" property which points to a KerberosTokenValidator instance. This tells CXF to process a received BinarySecurityToken with the KerberosTokenValidator.

The KerberosTokenValidator is configured with a CallbackHandler implementation, to supply a username and password (see here for a sample implementation). Note that this is not required normally when we have a keytab file, but it appears to be required when we do not define a default realm. The KerberosTokenValidator instance also defines the JAAS context name, as well as the fully qualified principal name. As this is in service name form, we have to set the property "usernameServiceNameForm" to "true" as well.

If we set up the endpoint for "bob" with similar configuration, then our krb5.conf doesn't need the "default_realm" property and we can successfully validate tickets for both realms.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Exploring Apache Knox - part VIII

This is the eighth and final post in a series of blog posts exploring some of the security features of Apache Knox. The previous post looked at how to authorize access to Apache Knox using Apache Ranger. We have also previously looked at how to achieve single sign-on using the Knox SSO service. In this post we will combine aspects of both, to show how we can use Knox SSO to achieve single sign-on for the Apache Ranger admin service UI.

As a prerequisite to this tutorial, follow the first tutorial to set up and run Apache Knox.

1) Configure the Apache Knox SSO service

First we'll make a few changes to the Apache Knox SSO Service to get it working with Apache Ranger. Copy "conf/topologies/knoxsso.xml" to "conf/topologies/knoxsso-ranger.xml". Change the "redirectToUrl" parameter in the "ShiroProvider" to redirect to "knoxsso-ranger" instead of "knoxsso". We also need to make some changes to the "KNOXSSO" service configuration, due to the fact that we have not configured the Ranger Admin Service to run on TLS. Change the "KNOXSSO" service in the topology file as follows (note: this should not be done in production as it is not secure to set "" to "false"):
Apache Ranger must be configured to trust the signing certificate of the Knox SSO service. In ${knox.home}/data/security/keystores, export the certificate from the jks file via (specifying the master secret as the password):
  • keytool -keystore gateway.jks -export-cert -file gateway.cer -alias gateway-identity -rfc
2) Configure Apache Ranger to use the Knox SSO service

Next we'll look at configuring Apache Ranger to use the Knox SSO Service. Edit 'conf/ranger-admin-site.xml' and add/edit the following properties:
  • ranger.truststore.file - ${knox.home}/data/security/keystores/gateway.jks
  • ranger.truststore.password - the truststore password
  • ranger.sso.enabled - true
  • ranger.sso.providerurl - https://localhost:8443/gateway/knoxsso-ranger/api/v1/websso
  • ranger.sso.publicKey - Edit gateway.cer we exported above and paste in the content between the BEGIN + END part here.
3) Log in to the Ranger Admin Service UI using Knox SSO

Now we're reading to log in to the Ranger Admin Service UI. Start Ranger via "sudo ranger-admin start" and open a browser at "http://localhost:6080". You will be re-directed to the Knox SSO login page. Login with credentials of "admin/admin-password". We will be redirected back to the Ranger Admin UI and logged in automatically as the "admin" user.

4) Some additional configuration parameters

Finally, there are some additional configuration parameters we can set on both the Knox and Ranger sides. It's possible to enforce that the KNOX SSO (JWT) token has a required audience claim in Ranger, by setting the "ranger.sso.audiences" configuration parameter in "conf/ranger-admin-site.xml". The audience claim can be set in the "KNOXSSO" service configuration via the "knoxsso.token.audiences" configuration property. It is also possible to change the default signature algorithm by specifying "ranger.sso.expected.sigalg" in Ranger (for example "RS512") and "knoxsso.token.sigalg" in Knox.