RESTfu­­l Jav­a­ wit­h ­JAX­-­­RS 2.­0­ (Second Edition)

Programmatic Security

The security features defined in this chapter have so far focused on declarative security metadata, or metadata that is statically defined before an application even runs. JAX-RS also has a small programmatic API for gathering security information about a secured request. Specifically, the interface has a method for determining the identity of the user making the secured HTTP invocation. It also has a method that allows you to check whether or not the current user belongs to a certain role:

public interface SecurityContext {

   public Principal getUserPrincipal();
   public boolean isUserInRole(String role);
   public boolean isSecure();
   public String getAuthenticationScheme();

The getUserPrincipal() method returns a standard Java Standard Edition (SE) security interface. A Principal object represents the individual user who is currently invoking the HTTP request. The isUserInRole() method allows you to determine whether the current calling user belongs to a certain role. The isSecure() method returns true if the current request is a secure connection. The getAuthenticationScheme() tells you which authentication mechanism was used to secure the request. BASIC, DIGEST, CLIENT_CERT, and FORM are typical values returned by this method. You get access to a SecurityContext instance by injecting it into a field, setter method, or resource method parameter using the @Context annotation.

Let’s examine this security interface with an example. Let’s say we want to have a security log of all access to a customer database by users who are not administrators. Here is how it might look:

public class CustomerService {

   public Customer[] getCustomers(@Context SecurityContext sec
) {

      if (sec.isSecure() && !sec.isUserInRole("ADMIN")) {
        logger.log(sec.getUserPrincipal() +
                      " accessed customer database.");

In this example, we inject the SecurityContext as a parameter to our getCustomer() JAX-RS resource method. We use the method SecurityContext.isSecure() to determine whether or not this is an authenticated request. We then use the method SecurityContext.isUserInRole() to find out if the caller is an ADMIN or not. Finally, we print out to our audit log.

With the introduction of the filter API in JAX-RS 2.0, you can implement the SecurityContext interface and override the current request’s SecurityContext via the ContainerRequestContext.setSecurityContext() method. What’s interesting about this is that you can implement your own custom security protocols. Here’s an example:


public class CustomAuth implements ContainerRequestFilter {
   protected MyCustomerProtocolHandler customProtocol = ...;

   public void filter(ContainerRequestContext requestContext) throws IOException
      String authHeader = request.getHeaderString(HttpHeaders.AUTHORIZATION);
      SecurityContext newSecurityContext = customProtocol.validate(authHeader);


This filter leaves out a ton of detail, but hopefully you get the idea. It extracts the Authorization header from the request and passes it to the customProtocol service that you have written. This returns an implementation of SecurityContext. You override the default SecurityContext with this variable.