Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) or web shield is a firewall which protects web applications against attacks over the HTTP protocol. Combined with an Identity and Access Management (IAM) System it also protects against unauthorized access and supports single sign on (SSO).

Single Sign On

Most WAF or IAM systems allow to configure a way how the user name of the identified user is transmitted to the web applications. With Axon.ivy Engine a typical system landscape will look like this:

../../_images/waf-iam-integration.png

The only available access point must be the WAF. Any traffic has to be routed over it. The WAF tries to protect the web application behind it (e.g. Axon.ivy Engine) from attacks. The WAF uses the IAM to identify users and to protect certain resources from unauthorized access. The IAM itself may use a directory server like Microsoft Active Directory to know users. The WAF can be configured to provide the name of the identified user either as HTTP header or HTTP cookie to the web application (Axon.ivy Engine).

On the other side Axon.ivy Engine provides a Valve that reads the user name from a HTTP header. If Axon.ivy Engine knows the user it automatically authenticates the user to the current Axon.ivy Engine session. This works best if Axon.ivy Engine also uses a directory server like Microsoft Active Directory to synchronize users. The Valve that reads the user name from a HTTP header is disabled by default. To enable it, open the file context.xml in the [engineDir]/webapps/ivy/META-INF directory and uncomment the following line:

<Valve className="ch.ivyteam.ivy.webserver.security.SingleSignOnValve" userNameHeader="user"/>

The attribute userNameHeader can be used to configure the HTTP header that should be read.

Warning

If you activate this Valve you must ensure that the Axon.ivy Engine cannot be accessed directly. All traffic must be routed over the WAF. Otherwise, an attacker could simple send a valid user name as header in a HTTP request and immediately has access bypassing the authentication!

Instead of sending the plain user name in a HTTP header there are multiple other ways and technologies (SAML token, Kerberos, etc.) how the WAF can transmit the current user identity to the web applications. You can support this cases by registering your own Valve in the context.xml file. Your value reads the current user identity from the request and puts a user principal object with the user name to it. Axon.ivy Engine will check if a user principal is set on a request and automatically searches the user and authenticates it. The code of your valve can look like this:

package ch.ivyteam.ivy.webserver.security;

import java.io.IOException;
import java.security.Principal;

import javax.servlet.ServletException;

import org.apache.catalina.connector.Request;
import org.apache.catalina.connector.Response;
import org.apache.catalina.valves.ValveBase;
import org.apache.commons.lang3.StringUtils;

import ch.ivyteam.api.PublicAPI;

/**
 * <p><strong style="color:red"> Only use this Valve if you exclusively access Axon.ivy over the WebApplication Firewall.  
 * Otherwise this will be a security hole.</strong></p>                     
 * 
 * This Valve is useful if Axon.ivy is protected by a WebApplication Firewall (WAF) with an integrated 
 * Identity and Access Management (IAM). Those systems will authenticate and authorize users. 
 * The identified user is then sent from the WAF to Axon.ivy using a HTTP request header.
 *
 * <pre>
 * WebBrowser {@literal ==>} WAF {@literal ==>} Axon.ivy
 *                  
 *                 ^          |
 *                 |          |
 *                 v          v        
 *
 *                IAM {@literal ==>} Active Directory
 * </pre>               
 * @since 6.6
 */
@PublicAPI
public class SingleSignOnValve extends ValveBase
{
  public static final String DEFAULT_USER_NAME_HEADER = "user";
  
  private String userNameHeader = DEFAULT_USER_NAME_HEADER;
  
  public void setUserNameHeader(String headerName)
  {
    this.userNameHeader = headerName;
  }
  
  public String getUserNameHeader()
  {
    return userNameHeader;
  }
  
  /**
   * This implementation reads the user from the HTTP header field user.
   * 
   * @see org.apache.catalina.Valve#invoke(org.apache.catalina.connector.Request, org.apache.catalina.connector.Response)
   */
  @Override
  public void invoke(Request request, Response response) throws IOException, ServletException
  {
    String userName = request.getHeader(userNameHeader);
    if (StringUtils.isNotBlank(userName))
    {
      Principal principal = createUserPrincipal(userName);
      request.setUserPrincipal(principal);
    }
    getNext().invoke(request, response);
  }

  private static Principal createUserPrincipal(String userName)
  {
    return new UserPrincipal(userName); 
  }

  private static final class UserPrincipal implements Principal
  {
    private final String userName;

    UserPrincipal(String userName)
    {
      this.userName = userName;
    }
    
    @Override
    public String getName()
    {
      return userName;
    }
  }
}