Spring Security


Spring Security is a powerful and highly customizable authentication and access-control framework.
It is the de-facto standard for securing Spring-based applications.

Spring Security is one of the most mature and widely used Spring projects. Founded in 2003 and actively maintained by SpringSource since, today it is used to secure numerous demanding environments including government agencies, military applications and central banks. It is released under an Apache 2.0 license so you can confidently use it in your projects. Spring Security is also easy to learn, deploy and manage.

Existing dedicated security namespace provides directives for most common operations, allowing complete application security in just a few lines of XML. The Spring Community Forum and SpringSource offer a variety of free and paid support services.

Spring Security provides comprehensive security services for J2EE-based enterprise software applications. There is a particular emphasis on supporting projects built using The Spring Framework, which is the leading J2EE solution for enterprise software development. Some familiarity with Spring – and in particular dependency injection principles – will help you get up to speed with Spring Security more easily. People use Spring Security for many reasons, but most are drawn to the project after finding the security features of J2EE’s Servlet Specification or EJB Specification lack the depth required for typical enterprise application scenarios. Whilst mentioning these standards, it’s important to recognize that they are not portable at a WAR or EAR level. Therefore, if you switch server environments, it is typically a lot of work to reconfigure your application’s security in the new target environment. Using Spring Security overcomes these problems, and also brings you dozens of other useful, customizable security features.

As you probably know two major areas of application security are “authentication” and “authorization” (or “access-control”). These are the two main areas that Spring Security targets.

“Authentication” is the process of establishing a principal is who they claim to be (a “principal” generally means a user, device or some other system which can perform an action in your application). “Authorization” refers to the process of deciding whether a principal is allowed to perform an action within your application. To arrive at the point where an authorization decision is needed, the identity of the principal has already been established by the authentication process. These concepts are common, and not at all specific to Spring Security.

At an authentication level, Spring Security supports a wide range of authentication models. Most of these authentication models are either provided by third parties, or are developed by relevant standards bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force. In addition, Spring Security provides its own set of authentication features. Spring Security currently supports authentication integration with all of popular technologies. Some of them:

  • HTTP BASIC authentication headers (an IEFT RFC-based standard)
  • HTTP Digest authentication headers (an IEFT RFC-based standard)
  • HTTP X.509 client certificate exchange (an IEFT RFC-based standard)
  • LDAP (a very common approach to cross-platform authentication needs, especially in large environments)
  • Form-based authentication (for simple user interface needs)
  • OpenID authentication
  • Authentication based on pre-established request headers (such as Computer Associates Siteminder)
  • Transparent authentication context propagation for Remote Method Invocation (RMI) and HttpInvoker (a Spring remoting protocol)
  • Automatic “remember-me” authentication (so you can tick a box to avoid re-authentication for a predetermined period of time)
  • Anonymous authentication (allowing every call to automatically assume a particular security identity)
  • Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS)
  • JEE container autentication (so you can still use Container Managed Authentication if desired)
  • Kerberos
  • Java Open Source Single Sign On (JOSSO)

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