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Chapter 13. Identity Within Applications
13.1. Foundational Concepts
13.1.1. About Encryption
Encryption refers to obfuscating sensitive information by applying mathematical algorithms to it. Encryption is one of the foundations of securing your infrastructure from data breaches, system outages, and other risks.
Encryption can be applied to simple string data, such as passwords. It can also be applied to data communication streams. The HTTPS protocol, for instance, encrypts all data before transferring it from one party to another. If you connect from one server to another using the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, all of your communication is sent in an encrypted tunnel .
For more information on using encryption to secure the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, refer to the following topics.
13.1.2. About Security Domains
Security domains are part of the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform security subsystem. All security configuration is now managed centrally, by the domain controller of a managed domain, or by the standalone server.
A security domain consists of configurations for authentication, authorization, security mapping, and auditing. It implements Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) declarative security.
Authentication refers to verifying the identity of a user. In security terminology, this user is referred to as a principal. Although authentication and authorization are different, many of the included authentication modules also handle authorization.
An authorization is a security policy, which contains information about actions which are allowed or prohibited. In security terminology, this is often referred to as a role.
Security mapping refers to the ability to add, modify, or delete information from a principal, role, or attribute before passing the information to your application.
The auditing manager allows you to configure provider modules to control the way that security events are reported.
If you use security domains, you can remove all specific security configuration from your application itself. This allows you to change security parameters centrally. One common scenario that benefits from this type of configuration structure is the process of moving applications between testing and production environments.
13.1.3. About SSL Encryption
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts network traffic between two systems. Traffic between the two systems is encrypted using a two-way key, generated during the handshake phase of the connection and known only by those two systems.
For secure exchange of the two-way encryption key, SSL makes use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), a method of encryption that utilizes a key pair . A key pair consists of two separate but matching cryptographic keys - a public key and a private key. The public key is shared with others and is used to encrypt data, and the private key is kept secret and is used to decrypt data that has been encrypted using the public key.
When a client requests a secure connection, a handshake phase takes place before secure communication can begin. During the SSL handshake the server passes its public key to the client in the form of a certificate. The certificate contains the identity of the server (its URL), the public key of the server, and a digital signature that validates the certificate. The client then validates the certificate and makes a decision about whether the certificate is trusted or not. If the certificate is trusted, the client generates the two-way encryption key for the SSL connection, encrypts it using the public key of the server, and sends it back to the server. The server decrypts the two-way encryption key, using its private key, and further communication between the two machines over this connection is encrypted using the two-way encryption key.
13.1.4. About Declarative Security
Declarative security is a method to separate security concerns from your application code by using the container to manage security. The container provides an authorization system based on either file permissions or users, groups, and roles. This approach is usually superior to programmatic security, which gives the application itself all of the responsibility for security.
The JBoss Enterprise Application Platform provides declarative security via security domains.