Web applications are created by application developers who give, sell, or otherwise transfer the application to an application deployer for installation into a runtime environment. Application developers communicate how the security is to be set up for the deployed application by the use of the deployment descriptor mechanism or by the use of annotations. When this information is passed on to the deployer, the deployer uses this information to define method permissions for security roles, set up user authentication, and set up the appropriate transport mechanism. If you don’t define security requirements, the deployer will have to determine the security requirements independently.
Many elements necessary for security in a web application cannot, as yet, be specified as annotations for all types of web applications. Therefore, in this volume of the tutorial, we describe how to secure web applications using deployment descriptors only. For information on using annotations to secure web applications, refer to the following sources:
The Java Servlet Specification, Version 3.0, for information on the @ServletSecurity annotation
Part VII, Security, in The Java EE 6 Tutorial, Volume II
The web application deployment descriptor file does pretty much what it's name says it does: it describes how the web application should be deployed. The web application deployment descriptor describes a lot more about a web application than just its security information, but this chapter only discusses the elements of the application deployment descriptor that relate to security.
For web applications written using the Java programming language, the web application deployment descriptor is written using the EXtensible Markup Language (XML) syntax. The web application deployment descriptor is named web.xml, and, when included with a web application, it must reside in a WEB-INF subdirectory at the web application root. The contents of this file direct a deployment tool to deploy a module or application with the specified security settings, and describes other specific configuration requirements and/or container options.
The following XML code is an example of the elements in a deployment descriptor that apply specifically to declaring security for web applications or for resources within web applications. This example comes from An Example of Security, from the Java Servlet Specification, Version 3.0.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?> <web-app xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee/web-app_2_5.xsd" version=?2.5?> <display-name>A Secure Application</display-name> <servlet> <servlet-name>catalog</servlet-name> <servlet-class>com.mycorp.CatalogServlet</servlet-class> <init-param> <param-name>catalog</param-name> <param-value>Spring</param-value> </init-param> <!-- Defining Security Roles --> <security-role-ref> <role-name>MGR</role-name> <!-- role name used in code --> <role-link>manager</role-link> </security-role-ref> </servlet> <security-role> <role-name>manager</role-name> </security-role> <servlet-mapping> <servlet-name>catalog</servlet-name> <url-pattern>/catalog/*</url-pattern> </servlet-mapping> <!-- Defining A Security Constraint --> <security-constraint> <!-- Specifying the Resources to be Protected --> <web-resource-collection> <web-resource-name>SalesInfo</web-resource-name> <url-pattern>/salesinfo/*</url-pattern> <http-method>GET</http-method> <http-method>POST</http-method> </web-resource-collection> <!-- Specifying which Users Can Access Protected Resources --> <auth-constraint> <role-name>manager</role-name> </auth-constraint> <!-- Specifying Secure Transport using SSL --> <user-data-constraint> <transport-guarantee>CONFIDENTIAL </transport-guarantee> </user-data-constraint> </security-constraint> <!-- Specifying an Authentication Method --> <login-config> <auth-method>BASIC</auth-method> <realm-name>file</realm-name> </login-config> </web-app>
Even if you are simply using the deployment descriptor to specify security, there are some structural elements that must be included in this file in order for it to work properly. For example, the <security-constraint> element is a sub-element of the <web-app> element, so the <web-app> element must always be included, and it must indicate the version of the web application schema (2.4 or 2.5) it is using. The elements that are specified within the deployment descriptor must comply with the rules for processing that version of the deployment descriptor. Version 3.0 of the Java Servlet Specification, which can be downloaded at http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=315, contains more information regarding the structure of deployment descriptors.
XML files are hierarchical. The elements must be specified in a particular order within the deployment descriptor, between elements that are its parent. To visually see an example of how the deployment descriptor elements are nested within their parent elements, refer to the elements within the <security-constraint> element above, which is itself nested within <web-app> elements. For this example, the lines have been indented to emphasize the nesting aspect of the file, but the file itself ignores the formatting and relies only on the elements and their content for its processing. Information about the application is specified as a value between the opening (<element-name>) and closing (</element-name>) elements. For example, between the opening <transport-guarantee> element and the closing </transport-guarantee> element, there is the value CONFIDENTIAL, which describes which type of transport guarantee should be used for this application.
The following sections describe each of the security elements of a deployment descriptor in more detail, listing all of the options available for each element:
Some of the elements of web application security must be addressed in server configuration files rather than in the deployment descriptor or annotations for the web application. Configuring security on the Enterprise Server is discussed in the following sections and books:
Securing the Enterprise Server (in this book)
Managing Users and Groups on the Enterprise Server (in this book)
Installing and Configuring SSL Support (in this book)
Deploying Secure Enterprise Beans (in this book)
Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 Application Development Guide
A security constraint is used to define the access privileges to a collection of resources using their URL mapping. The following elements can be part of a security constraint:
Web resource collection (web-resource-collection)
A web resource collection is a list of URL patterns (the part of a URL after the host name and port which you want to constrain) and HTTP operations (the methods within the files that match the URL pattern which you want to constrain (in this example, POST and GET)) that describe a set of resources to be protected. Web resource collections are discussed in Specifying a Web Resource Collection.
Authorization constraint (auth-constraint)
Authorization constraints establish a requirement for authentication and name the roles authorized to perform the constrained requests. For more information about authorization constraints, read Specifying an Authentication Mechanism.
User data constraint (TutorialUser-data-constraint)
User data constraints establish a requirement that the constrained requests be received over a protected transport layer connection. This guarantees how the data will be transported between client and server. The strength of the required protection is defined by the value of the transport guarantee. A transport guarantee of INTEGRAL is used to establish a requirement for content integrity and a transport guarantee of CONFIDENTIAL is used to establish a requirement for confidentiality. The transport guarantee of NONE indicates that the container must accept the constrained requests when received on any connection including an unprotected one. User data constraints are discussed in Specifying a Secure Connection.
A web resource collection consists of the following sub-elements:
web-resource-name is the name you use for this resource. It's use is optional, but it is useful to describe the resources being protected as applications get more complex.
url-pattern is used to list the request URI to be protected.
Many applications feature unprotected web content, which any caller can access without authentication. In the web tier, you provide unrestricted access simply by not configuring a security constraint for that particular request URI. It is common to have some unprotected resources and some protected resources. In this case, you will define security constraints and a login method, but they will not be used to control access to the unprotected resources. Users won’t be asked to log in until the first time they enter a protected request URI.
The Java Servlet specification defines the request URI as the part of a URL after the host name and port. For example, let’s say you have an e-commerce site with a browseable catalog that you would want anyone to be able to access, and a shopping cart area for customers only. You could set up the paths for your web application so that the pattern /cart/* is protected but nothing else is protected. Assuming that the application is installed at context path /myapp, the following are true:
http://localhost:8080/myapp/index.jsp is not protected.
http://localhost:8080/myapp/cart/index.jsp is protected.
A user will not be prompted to log in the first time that user accesses a resource in the cart/ subdirectory.
http-method or http-method-omission is used to specify which methods should be protected or which methods should be omitted from protection. An HTTP method is protected by a web-resource-collection when no HTTP methods are named in the collection (which means all are protected), or the collection specifically names the HTTP method in a contained http-method element, or the collection contains one or more http-method-omission elements, none of which names the HTTP method.
An authorization constraint (auth-constraint) contains the role-name element. You can use as many role-name elements as needed here.
An authorization constraint establishes a requirement for authentication and names the roles authorized to access the URL patterns and HTTP methods declared by this security constraint. If there is no authorization constraint, the container must accept the request without requiring user authentication. If there is an authorization constraint, but no roles are specified within it, the container will not allow access to constrained requests under any circumstances. The role name(s) specified here must either correspond to the role name of one of the <security-role> elements defined for this web application, or be the specially reserved role name *, which is a compact syntax for indicating all roles in the web application. Role names are case sensitive. The roles defined for the application must be mapped to users and groups defined on the server. For more information about security roles, read Working with Security Roles.
A user data constraint (<TutorialUser-data-constraint> in the deployment descriptor) contains the <transport-guarantee> element. A user data constraint can be used to require that a protected transport layer connection such as HTTPS (HTTP over SSL) be used for all constrained URL patterns and HTTP methods specified in the security constraint. The choices for transport guarantee include CONFIDENTIAL, INTEGRAL, or NONE. If you specify CONFIDENTIAL or INTEGRAL as a security constraint, it generally means that the use of SSL is required, and that type of security constraint applies to all requests that match the URL patterns in the web resource collection and not just to the login dialog box.
The strength of the required protection is defined by the value of the transport guarantee. Specify CONFIDENTIAL when the application requires that data be transmitted so as to prevent other entities from observing the contents of the transmission. Specify INTEGRAL when the application requires that the data be sent between client and server in such a way that it cannot be changed in transit. Specify NONE to indicate that the container must accept the constrained requests on any connection, including an unprotected one.
The user data constraint is handy to use in conjunction with basic and form-based user authentication. When the login authentication method is set to BASIC or FORM, passwords are not protected, meaning that passwords sent between a client and a server on an unprotected session can be viewed and intercepted by third parties. Using a user data constraint with the user authentication mechanism can alleviate this concern. Configuring a user authentication mechanism is described in Specifying an Authentication Mechanism.
To guarantee that data is transported over a secure connection, ensure that SSL support is configured for your server. If your server is the Sun Java System Enterprise Server, SSL support is already configured. If you are using another server, consult the documentation for that server for information on setting up SSL support. More information on configuring SSL support on the Enterprise Server can be found in Establishing a Secure Connection Using SSL and in the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 Administration Guide.
Good Security Practice: If you are using sessions, after you switch to SSL you should never accept any further requests for that session that are non-SSL. For example, a shopping site might not use SSL until the checkout page, and then it might switch to using SSL to accept your card number. After switching to SSL, you should stop listening to non-SSL requests for this session. The reason for this practice is that the session ID itself was not encrypted on the earlier communications. This is not so bad when you’re only doing your shopping, but after the credit card information is stored in the session, you don’t want a bad guy trying to fake the purchase transaction against your credit card. This practice could be easily implemented using a filter.
You can create a separate security constraint for different resources within your application. For example, you could allow users with the role of PARTNER access to the GET and POST methods of all resources with the URL pattern /acme/wholesale/*, and allow users with the role of CLIENT access to theGET and POST methods of all resources with the URL pattern /acme/retail/*. An example of a deployment descriptor that would demonstrate this functionality is the following:
<!-- SECURITY CONSTRAINT #1 --> <security-constraint> <web-resource-collection> <web-resource-name>wholesale</web-resource-name> <url-pattern>/acme/wholesale/*</url-pattern> <http-method>GET</http-method> <http-method>POST</http-method> </web-resource-collection> <auth-constraint> <role-name>PARTNER</role-name> </auth-constraint> <user-data-constraint> <transport-guarantee>CONFIDENTIAL</transport-guarantee> </user-data-constraint> </security-constraint> <!-- SECURITY CONSTRAINT #2 --> <security-constraint> <web-resource-collection> <web-resource-name>retail</web-resource-name> <url-pattern>/acme/retail/*</url-pattern> <http-method>GET</http-method> <http-method>POST</http-method> </web-resource-collection> <auth-constraint> <role-name>CLIENT</role-name> </auth-constraint> <user-data-constraint> <transport-guarantee>CONFIDENTIAL</transport-guarantee> </user-data-constraint> </security-constraint>
When the same url-pattern and http-method occur in multiple security constraints, the constraints on the pattern and method are defined by combining the individual constraints, which could result in unintentional denial of access. The Java Servlet 3.0 Specification (downloadable from http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=315) gives more detail and an example that illustrates the combination of constraints and how the declarations will be interpreted.
The login configuration element is separate from the security-constraint element, as there can be multiple security constraints applying to multiple resources, but the same authentication method will apply to all constrained resources in an application. The login-config element is used to specify the user authentication method to be used for access to web content, the realm in which the user will be authenticated (in the case of basic authentication), and, in the case of form-based login, additional attributes. When specified, the user must be authenticated before access to any resource that is constrained by a security constraint will be granted.
The sub-element auth-method configures the authentication mechanism for the web application. The element content must be either NONE, BASIC, DIGEST, FORM, or CLIENT-CERT. The realm-name element indicates the realm name to use when the basic authentication scheme is chosen for the web application. The form-login-config element specifies the login and error pages that should be used when FORM based login is specified.
Another way to specify form-based authentication is to use the authenticate, login, and logout methods of HttpServletRequest, as discussed in Authenticating Users Programmatically.
When you try to access a web resource that is constrained by a security-constraint element, the web container activates the authentication mechanism that has been configured for that resource. The authentication mechanism you choose specifies how the user is prompted to login. If the <login-config> element is present, and the <auth-method> element contains a value other than NONE, the user must be authenticated before it can access any resource that is constrained by the use of a security-constraint element in the same deployment descriptor (read Specifying Security Constraints for more information on security constraints). If you do not specify an authentication mechanism, authentication of the user is not required.
Before you can authenticate a user, you must have a database of user names, passwords, and roles configured on your web or application server. For information on setting up the user database, refer to Managing Users and Groups on the Enterprise Server in this tutorial or the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 Administration Guide.
The choices for authentication mechanisms are discussed further in the following sections:
Specifying HTTP Basic Authentication requires that the server request a user name and password from the web client and verify that the user name and password are valid by comparing them against a database of authorized users in the specified or default realm.
When basic authentication is declared, the following actions occur:
A client requests access to a protected resource.
The web server returns a dialog box that requests the user name and password.
The client submits the user name and password to the server.
The server authenticates the user in the specified realm and, if successful, returns the requested resource.
Figure 25–2 shows what happens when you specify HTTP basic authentication.
The following example shows how to specify basic authentication in your deployment descriptor:
<login-config> <auth-method>BASIC</auth-method> <realm-name>file</realm-name> </login-config>
HTTP basic authentication is not a secure authentication mechanism. Basic authentication sends user names and passwords over the Internet as text that is Base64 encoded, and the target server is not authenticated. This form of authentication can expose user names and passwords. If someone can intercept the transmission, the user name and password information can easily be decoded. However, when a secure transport mechanism, such as SSL, or security at the network level, such as the IPSEC protocol or VPN strategies, is used in conjunction with basic authentication, some of these concerns can be alleviated. To specify a secure transport mechanism, use the elements described in Specifying a Secure Connection.
Example: Basic Authentication with JAX-WS is an example application that uses HTTP basic authentication in a JAX-WS service.
Form-based authentication allows the developer to control the look and feel of the login authentication screens by customizing the login screen and error pages that an HTTP browser presents to the end user. When form-based authentication is declared, the following actions occur:
A client requests access to a protected resource.
If the client is unauthenticated, the server redirects the client to a login page.
The client submits the login form to the server.
The server attempts to authenticate the user.
If authentication succeeds, the authenticated user’s principal is checked to ensure it is in a role that is authorized to access the resource. If the user is authorized, the server redirects the client to the resource using the stored URL path.
If authentication fails, the client is forwarded or redirected to an error page.
Figure 25–3 shows what happens when you specify form-based authentication.
The following example shows how to declare form-based authentication in your deployment descriptor:
<login-config> <auth-method>FORM</auth-method> <realm-name>file</realm-name> <form-login-config> <form-login-page>/logon.jsp</form-login-page> <form-error-page>/logonError.jsp</form-error-page> </form-login-config> </login-config>
The login and error page locations are specified relative to the location of the deployment descriptor. Examples of login and error pages are shown in Creating the Login Form and the Error Page.
Form-based authentication is not particularly secure. In form-based authentication, the content of the user dialog box is sent as plain text, and the target server is not authenticated. This form of authentication can expose your user names and passwords unless all connections are over SSL. If someone can intercept the transmission, the user name and password information can easily be decoded. However, when a secure transport mechanism, such as SSL, or security at the network level, such as the IPSEC protocol or VPN strategies, is used in conjunction with form-based authentication, some of these concerns can be alleviated. To add a protected transport in your application, use the elements described in Specifying a Secure Connection.
The section Example: Form-Based Authentication with a Servlet is an example application that uses form-based authentication.
When creating a form-based login, be sure to maintain sessions using cookies or SSL session information.
As shown in Form-Based Authentication, for authentication to proceed appropriately, the action of the login form must always be j_security_check. This restriction is made so that the login form will work no matter which resource it is for, and to avoid requiring the server to specify the action field of the outbound form. The following code snippet shows how the form should be coded into the HTML page:
<form method="POST" action="j_security_check"> <input type="text" name="j_username"> <input type="password" name="j_password"> </form>
HTTPS Client Authentication requires the client to possess a Public Key Certificate (PKC). If you specify client authentication, the web server will authenticate the client using the client’s public key certificate.
HTTPS Client Authentication is a more secure method of authentication than either basic or form-based authentication. It uses HTTP over SSL (HTTPS), in which the server authenticates the client using the client’s Public Key Certificate (PKC). Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology provides data encryption, server authentication, message integrity, and optional client authentication for a TCP/IP connection. You can think of a public key certificate as the digital equivalent of a passport. It is issued by a trusted organization, which is called a certificate authority (CA), and provides identification for the bearer.
Before using HTTP Client Authentication, you must make sure that the following actions have been completed:
Make sure the client has a valid Public Key Certificate. For more information on creating and using public key certificates, read Working with Digital Certificates.
Make sure that SSL support is configured for your server. If your server is the Sun GlassFishEnterprise Server v3, SSL support is already configured. If you are using another server, consult the documentation for that server for information on setting up SSL support. More information on configuring SSL support on the application server can be found in Establishing a Secure Connection Using SSL and the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 Administration Guide.
The following example shows how to declare HTTPS client authentication in your deployment descriptor:
<login-config> <auth-method>CLIENT-CERT</auth-method> </login-config>
An example demonstrating HTTPS client authentication may be available in Part VII, Security, in The Java EE 6 Tutorial, Volume II.
With mutual authentication, the server and the client authenticate one another. There are two types of mutual authentication:
Certificate-based mutual authentication (see Figure 25–4)
User name- and password-based mutual authentication (see Figure 25–5)
When using certificate-based mutual authentication, the following actions occur:
A client requests access to a protected resource.
The web server presents its certificate to the client.
The client verifies the server’s certificate.
If successful, the client sends its certificate to the server.
The server verifies the client’s credentials.
If successful, the server grants access to the protected resource requested by the client.
Figure 25–4 shows what occurs during certificate-based mutual authentication.
In user name- and password-based mutual authentication, the following actions occur:
A client requests access to a protected resource.
The web server presents its certificate to the client.
The client verifies the server’s certificate.
If successful, the client sends its user name and password to the server, which verifies the client’s credentials.
If the verification is successful, the server grants access to the protected resource requested by the client.
Figure 25–5 shows what occurs during user name- and password-based mutual authentication.
Like HTTP Basic Authentication, HTTP Digest Authentication authenticates a user based on a username and a password. However, unlike HTTP Basic Authentication, HTTP Digest Authentication does not send user passwords over the network. In HTTP Digest authentication, the client sends a one-way cryptographic hash of the password (and additional data). Although passwords are not sent on the wire, HTTP Digest authentication requires that clear text password equivalents be available to the authenticating container so that it can validate received authenticators by calculating the expected digest.
The following example shows how to declare HTTP Digest authentication in your deployment descriptor:
<login-config> <auth-method>DIGEST</auth-method> </login-config>
In an application, a role is an abstract name for a group of users. A role can be compared to a key that can open a lock. Many people might have a copy of the key. The lock doesn’t care who you are, only that you have the right key.
For example, in a corporation, you might have the roles Director, Manager, HR, and Employee. When an application developer is creating an internal payroll website, the developer would use the same set of data for all of its corporate users, but would allow different access to the data depending on the role the user is in. For example, a person in the role of HR would have permission to create new Employees, and to modify the payroll information for Employees. The Employee would be able to view their own payroll information, but would not be able to change some of the data, such as their pay rate, but could change some other data, such as their address or dependent information. The users' assigned role determines what permissions that user is granted for access to a particular set of resources in an application.
The following elements in a deployment descriptor use security roles in some capacity:
A security role element is used to define the security roles that will comprise the entire set of security roles used in the application. The sub-element role-name designates the name of the security role. All role names that are used in an application should be specified in its deployment descriptor.
The security role reference element is used in conjunction with the HttpServletRequest.isUserInRole(String role) programmatic security option. When a call is made to isUserInRole, the caller identity is tested for membership in this role. If a security-role-ref has been defined, the caller is tested for membership in the role linked, or mapped, to the role name.
The security role name specified here is the security role name used in the application code. The value of the role-name element must be the String used as the parameter to the HttpServletRequest.isUserInRole(String role) method. The container uses the mapping of security-role-ref to security-role when determining whether or not the user is authorized to access the requested information.
The security role link specified here contains the value of the name of the security role that the user may be mapped into. The role-link element is used to link a security role reference to a defined security role. The role-link element must contain the name of one of the security roles defined in the security-role elements.
For more information about using security-role-ref with the isUserInRole method, read Declaring and Linking Role References.
If you read Working with Realms, Users, Groups, and Roles, you will remember the following information:
On the Enterprise Server, the following concepts need to be understood in order to work with security roles.
A realm is a complete database of users and groups that identify valid users of a web application (or a set of web applications) and are controlled by the same authentication policy. For more information, read What Is a Realm?.
A user is an individual (or application program) identity that has been defined in the Enterprise Server. On the Enterprise Server, a user generally has a user name, a password, and, optionally, a list of groups to which this user has been assigned. For more information, read What Is a User?.
A group is a set of authenticated users, classified by common traits, defined in the Enterprise Server. For more information, read What Is a Group?.
A principal is an entity that can be authenticated by an authentication protocol in a security service that is deployed in an enterprise.
For more information on configuring users on the Enterprise Server, read Managing Users and Groups on the Enterprise Server.
During deployment, the deployer takes the information provided in the application deployment descriptor and maps the roles specified for the application to users and groups defined on the server using the Enterprise Server deployment descriptors sun-web.xml, sun-ejb-jar.xml, or sun-application.xml.
For more information, read Mapping Security Roles to Enterprise Server Groups.
The concepts of users, groups, principals, and realms exist in most application or web servers, but might use different names in different products. If you are using a server other than Enterprise Server, consult your product's documentation for the terminology specific to that server.
You can declare security role names used in web applications using the security-role element of the deployment descriptor. Use this element to list all of the security roles that you have referenced in your application, and also in conjunction with the security-role-ref element (see Declaring and Linking Role References.)
The following snippet of a deployment descriptor is taken from the simple sample application. This snippet declares the roles that will be used in the application using the security-role element, and specifies which of these roles is authorized to access protected resources using the auth-constraint element.
<security-constraint> <web-resource-collection> <web-resource-name>Protected Area</web-resource-name> <url-pattern>/jsp/security/protected/*</url-pattern> <http-method>PUT</http-method> <http-method>DELETE</http-method> <http-method>GET</http-method> <http-method>POST</http-method> </web-resource-collection> <auth-constraint> <role-name>manager</role-name> </auth-constraint> </security-constraint> <!-- Security roles used by this web application --> <security-role> <role-name>manager</role-name> </security-role> <security-role> <role-name>employee</role-name> </security-role>
In this example, the security-role element lists all of the security roles used in the application: manager and employee. This enables the deployer to map all of the roles defined in the application to users and groups defined on the Enterprise Server.
The auth-constraint element specifies the role, manager, that can access the HTTP methods PUT, DELETE, GET, POST located in the directory specified by the url-pattern element (/jsp/security/protected/*).
To map security roles defined in applications to Enterprise Server principals and groups, use the security-role-mapping element in the runtime deployment descriptor (DD). The runtime deployment descriptor is different from the application deployment descriptor file. The runtime deployment descriptor is an XML file that contains information such as the context root of the web application and the mapping of the portable names of an application’s resources to the Enterprise Server resources. The Enterprise Server web application runtime DD is located in the /WEB-INF/ directory along with the web application deployment descriptor. Runtime deployment descriptors are named sun-web.xml, sun-application.xml, or sun-ejb-jar.xml.
The following example demonstrates how to do this mapping in the sun-web.xml file, which is the file used for web applications:
<sun-web-app> <security-role-mapping> <role-name>CEO</role-name> <principal-name>Schwartz</principal-name> </security-role-mapping> <security-role-mapping> <role-name>Admin</role-name> <group-name>director</group-name> </security-role-mapping> ... </sun-web-app>
A role can be mapped to specific principals, specific groups, or both. The principal or group names must be valid principals or groups in the current default realm, or in the realm specified in the login-config element. In this example, the role of CEO that is used in the application is mapped to a principal named Schwartz that exists on the application server. Mapping a role to a specific principal is useful when the person occupying that role may change. For this application, you would only need to modify the runtime deployment descriptor and not search and replace throughout the application for references to this principal.
Also in this example, the role of Admin is mapped to a group of users who are assigned the group name of director. This is useful because the group of people authorized to access director-level administrative data only has to be maintained on the Enterprise Server. The application developer does not need to know who these people are, just define the group of people who will be given access to the information.
The role-name must match the role-name in the security-role element of the corresponding application deployment descriptor (web.xml, ejb-jar.xml) or the role name defined in an @DeclareRoles annotation.
Sometimes the role names used in the application are the same as the group names defined on the Enterprise Server. Under these circumstances, you can use the Admin Console to define a default principal-to-role-mapping that applies to the entire Enterprise Server instance. From the Admin Console, select Configuration, then Security, then check the Enable box beside Default Principal to Role Mapping. For more information, read the Sun GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 Administration Guide.