Chapter 15. Securing JAX-RS
Many RESTful web services will want secure access to the data and functionality they
provide. This is especially true for services that will be performing updates. They will want
to prevent sniffers on the network from reading their messages. They may also want to fine-
tune which users are allowed to interact with a specific service and disallow certain actions
for specific users. The Web and the umbrella specification for JAX-RS, Java EE, provide a
core set of security services and protocols that you can leverage from within your RESTful
web services. These include:
Authentication is about validating the identity of a client that is trying to access your ser-
vices. It usually involves checking to see if the client has provided an existing user with
valid credentials, such as a password. The Web has a few standardized protocols you can
use for authentication. Java EE, specifically your servlet container, has facilities to under-
stand and configure these Internet security authentication protocols.
Once a client is authenticated, it will want to interact with your RESTful web service.
Authorization is about deciding whether or not a certain user is allowed to access and in-
voke on a specific URI. For example, you may want to allow write access (PUT/POST/
DELETE operations) for one set of users and disallow it for others. Authorization is not
part of any Internet protocol and is really the domain of your servlet container and Java
When a client is interacting with a RESTful web service, it is possible for hostile indi-
viduals to intercept network packets and read requests and responses if your HTTP con-
nection is not secure. Sensitive data should be protected with cryptographic services like
SSL. The Web defines the HTTPS protocol to leverage SSL and encryption.
JAX-RS has a small programmatic API for interacting with servlet and Java EE security, but
enabling security in a JAX-RS environment is usually an exercise in configuration and ap-
plying annotation metadata.
Beyond Java EE, servlet, and JAX-RS security configuration and APIs, there's a few areas
these standards don't cover. One area is digital signatures and encryption of the HTTP mes-
sage body. Your representations may be passing through untrusted intermediaries and signing
or encrypting the message body may add some extra protection for your data. There's also