The Java EE 6 Tutorial

Setting Up Security Roles

When you design an enterprise bean or web component, you should always think about the kinds of users who will access the component. For example, a web application for a human resources department might have a different request URL for someone who has been assigned the role of DEPT_ADMIN than for someone who has been assigned the role of DIRECTOR. The DEPT_ADMIN role may let you view employee data, but the DIRECTOR role enables you to modify employee data, including salary data. Each of these security roles is an abstract logical grouping of users that is defined by the person who assembles the application. When an application is deployed, the deployer will map the roles to security identities in the operational environment, as shown in Figure 24–6.

For Java EE components, you define security roles using the @DeclareRoles and @RolesAllowed metadata annotations.

The following is an example of an application in which the role of DEPT-ADMIN is authorized for methods that review employee payroll data, and the role of DIRECTOR is authorized for methods that change employee payroll data.

The enterprise bean would be annotated as shown in the following code:

@DeclareRoles({"DEPT-ADMIN", "DIRECTOR"})
@Stateless public class PayrollBean implements Payroll {
    @Resource SessionContext ctx;

    public void reviewEmployeeInfo(EmplInfo info) {

        oldInfo = ... read from database;

        // ...

    public void updateEmployeeInfo(EmplInfo info) {

        newInfo = ... update database;

        // ...

For a servlet, you can use the @HttpConstraint annotation within the @ServletSecurity annotation to specify the roles that are allowed to access the servlet. For example, a servlet might be annotated as follows:

@WebServlet(name = "PayrollServlet", urlPatterns = {"/payroll"})
@HttpConstraint(transportGuarantee = TransportGuarantee.CONFIDENTIAL,
    rolesAllowed = {"DEPT-ADMIN", "DIRECTOR"}))
public class GreetingServlet extends HttpServlet {

These annotations are discussed in more detail in Specifying Security for Basic Authentication Using Annotations and Securing an Enterprise Bean Using Declarative Security.

After users have provided their login information and the application has declared what roles are authorized to access protected parts of an application, the next step is to map the security role to the name of a user, or principal.