53 Securing Oracle Service Bus Proxy and Business Services with WS-Policy

This chapter describes how to use WebLogic Server security policies in Service Bus.


This chapter applies primarily to WLS 9 policies and not Oracle Web Services Manager (OWSM) policies. WLS policies are deprecated in this release, and are replaced by OWSM policies. You can import services with WLS9 policies attached, but you can use only OWSM policies for new services.

To express the message-level security requirements for a proxy service or business service that is a web service, you use the Web Services Policy (WS-Policy) framework.

The following sections describe configuring WS-Policy for proxy services and business services:

53.1 About Web Services Policy

Web Services Policy (WS-Policy) is a standards-based framework for defining a web service's constraints and requirements. It expresses constraints and requirements in a collection of XML statements called policies, each of which contains one or more assertions.

In Service Bus, WS-Policy assertions are used to specify a web service's requirements for digital signatures and encryption, along with the security algorithms and authentication mechanisms that it requires.

The WS-Policy framework allows other specifications to declare "policy assertions." These are domain-specific XML elements that appear inside a <policy> element. Policy assertions specifications describe the syntax and semantics of these domain-specific assertions.

WS-SecurityPolicy is one example of a domain-specific assertion language. The WS-SecurityPolicy specification defines a set of security policy assertions for use with the WS-Policy framework.

WS-ReliableMessaging is another example of a domain-specific assertion language; it defines assertions for declaring reliable-messaging policy.

53.1.1 Relationship Between WS-Security and WS-Policy

Web Services Security (WS-Security) works in conjunction with the Web Services Policy Framework (WS-Policy), and it is important that you understand what these terms mean and how they relate:

  • Web Services Security (WS-Security) is an OASIS standard that defines interoperable mechanisms to incorporate message-level security into SOAP messages. WS-Security determines "how" message-level security is incorporated into SOAP messages.

    WS-Security supports message integrity and message confidentiality. It also defines an extensible model for including security tokens in a SOAP envelope and a model for referencing security tokens from within a SOAP envelope. WS-Security allows you to specify which parts of a SOAP message are digitally signed or encrypted.

  • The Web Services Policy Framework (WS-Policy) provides a general-purpose model and corresponding syntax to describe and communicate the policies of a web service. WS-Policy is an abstract XML framework. The interesting aspects of a WS-Policy are defined in child elements called policy "assertions."

  • WS-SecurityPolicy defines assertions for specifying the security aspects of a WS-Policy. WS-SecurityPolicy determines "what" message-level security is required of SOAP messages.

    The policies can determine which operations are secured and which security measures a web services client must apply.

When you configure the WS-Policy of a proxy or business service, if the WS-Policy contains one or more security policy assertions, then the proxy service or business service is considered to be WS-Security enabled.

53.1.2 Abstract and Concrete WS-Policy Statements

For security policy assertions written under the WS-Policy specification (using the proprietary Oracle schema for security policy), the WebLogic Web Services runtime environment recognizes two types of WS-Policy statements:

  • Concrete WS-Policy statements specify the security tokens that are used for authentication, encryption, and digital signatures. A concrete encryption policy always has the server's encryption certificate embedded in the form of a base-64 encoded certificate in an X.509 binary security token.

    You can create concrete WS-Policy statements if you know at design time the type of authentication (such as using X.509 or SAML tokens) that you want to require.

  • Abstract WS-Policy statements do not specify security tokens. Specifically, this means the <Identity> and <Integrity> elements (or assertions) of the WS-Policy files do not contain a <SupportedTokens><SecurityToken> child element, and the <Confidentiality> element WS-Policy file does not contain a <KeyInfo><SecurityToken> child element.

    The Service Bus runtime environment determines which security token types an abstract policy will accept.

53.2 Oracle-Proprietary Security Policy Best Practices

This section describes best practices you should follow when using security policy assertions written under the WS-Policy specification, using the proprietary Oracle schema for security policy.


Carefully analyze your security requirements before you design your WS-SecurityPolicy. These best practices may or may not apply to your specific business security needs.

  • Make sure you do not use Identity assertions on an operation's response policy. As a corollary, do not use the predefined Auth.xml policy in a response policy.

    When using WS-Security user name tokens on inbound to an active intermediary proxy service, if you want to pass the user name/password to a back-end service (user name/password pass-through), the user name token must include the password in clear-text.

  • Whenever using WS-Security user name tokens with clear-text passwords, it is strongly recommended that you protect the confidentiality of the user name token, either by encrypting the entire token (with WS-Security) or by sending the message over SSL.

  • Whenever using an Identity assertion, you may also want to use an Integrity assertion to digitally sign the authentication token (user name, X.509 or SAML token) together with sensitive message content (SOAP body and/or SOAP header parts). The digital signature protects the integrity of the signed content and binds together the authentication token and message content. This is important to prevent someone from copying the authentication token into an arbitrary SOAP envelope, thus forging a message. (You can also send the message over SSL instead of using an integrity assertion.)

  • When using an Integrity assertion, you should also use a MessageAge assertion. You should also include the signing token (that is, the verification certificate) in the wsse:Security header and that the digital signature covers the signing token and the timestamp, in addition to whatever SOAP body and/or SOAP header parts you wish to sign. The message age assertion guarantees a timestamp will be included in the security header. The timestamp is used to prevent some replay attacks. The predefined Sign.xml policy follows this best practice.

  • When using timestamps over JMS (MessageAge assertions), make sure you set the age of the MessageAge assertion appropriately. If the value is too low, the message may expire while on the queue.

  • Whenever an Identity assertion includes X.509 tokens in the supported token list, your policy must also have an Integrity assertion. The server will not accept X.509 tokens as proof of authentication unless the token is also used in a digital signature.

    If the Identity assertion accepts other token types, you may use the X509AuthConditional attribute of the Integrity assertion to specify that the digital signature is required only when the actual authentication token is an X.509 token. Remember that abstract Identity assertions are pre-processed at deploy time and converted into concrete assertions by inserting a list of all token types supported by your runtime environment.

  • Oracle recommends that you do not use abstract Identity assertions in your policy. It is preferable instead to directly specify exactly which token types are supported for authentication. Furthermore, Oracle recommends that your Identity assertion supports only one token type.


    This makes the X509AuthConditional attribute of Integrity assertions unnecessary, as there is no ambiguity as to which token types are supported.

    As a corollary, Oracle recommends that you do not use the Auth.xml policy file: use the Sign.xml and Encrypt.xml policies whenever possible.

  • Whenever an Service Bus proxy processes digital signatures (on inbound request messages or back-end response messages), it is strongly recommended that you configure a certificate registry in your security realm and import your trading partner certificates in the registry.

53.3 Policy Subjects and Effective Policy

A policy subject is an entity, such as service, endpoint, operation, or message, with which a policy can be associated. You can associate a single WS-Policy statement with multiple policy subjects; conversely, multiple WS-Policy statements can be associated with a single policy subject. A policy scope is the collection of policy subjects to which a policy applies. For example, the policy scope implied by a policy attached to wsd:binding/wsdl:operation/wsdl:input is the input message, the operation, the endpoint, and the service.

The effective policy for a given policy subject is the merge of all policies whose scopes contain that policy subject. For example, the effective policy of the input message of a binding operation is the merge of all policies attached to the following:

  • The input message of the binding operation

  • The binding operation

  • The binding

  • The input message of the port-type operation

  • The port-type operation

  • The port-type

  • The service

The Oracle Service Bus Console displays the effective policy (read only) when configuring a business or proxy service with WS-Policy statements.