Controlling the Access to Resource Server - 6.3

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One of the most important issues one needs to resolve is how to partition a URI space of the resource server application. We have two different parties trying to access it, the end users which access the resource server to get to the resources which they own and 3rd party clients which have been authorized by the end users to access some of their resources. In the former case the way the authentication is managed is completely up to the resource server application: basic authentication, two-way TLS, OpenId (more on it below), you name it.

In the latter case an OAuth filter must enforce that the 3rd party client has been registered using the provided client key and that it has a valid access token which represents the end user's approval. It's kind of the authentication and the authorization check at the same time.

Letting both parties access the resource server via the same URI(s) complicates the life for the security filters but all the parties are only aware of the single resource server URI which all of them will use.

Providing different access points to end users and clients may significantly simplify the authentication process - the possible downside is that multiple access points need to be mantained by the resource server. Both options are discussed next.

Sharing the same access path between end users and clients

The first problem which needs to be addressed is how to distinguish end users from third-party clients and get both parties authenticated as required. Perhaps the simplest option is to extend a CXF OAuth2 filter (JAX-RS or servlet one), check Authorization header, if it is OAuth2 then delegate to the superclass, alternatively - proceed with authenticating the end users:

public class SecurityFilter 
   extends {
   private HttpHeaders headers;

   public Response handleRequest(ClassResourceInfo cri, Message message) {
      String header = headers.getRequestHeaders().
      if (header.startsWith("Bearer ")) {
         return super.handleRequest(cri, message);
      } else {
         // authenticate the end user

The next issue is how to enforce that the end users can only access the resources they've been authorized to access. For example, consider the following JAX-RS resource class:

public class CalendarResource {

   public Calendar getPublicCalendar(@PathParam("id") long id) {
      // return the calendar for a user identified by 'id'

   public Calendar getPrivateCalendar(@PathParam("id") long id) {
      // return the calendar for a user identified by 'id'

   public void updateCalendar(@PathParam("id") long id, Calendar c) {
      // update the calendar for a user identified by 'id'

Let's assume that the 3rd party client has been allowed to read the public user Calendars at "/calendar/\{id}" only, how to make sure that the client won't try to:

  1. update the calendar available at the same path

  2. read the private Calendars available at "/calendar/\{id}/private"

As noted above, OAuthPermission has an optional URIs property. Thus one way to solve the problem with the private calendar is to add, say, a uri "/calendar/\{id}" or "/calendar/1" (etc) property to OAuthPermission (representing a scope like "readCalendar") and the OAuth filter will make sure no subresources beyond "/calendar/\{id}" can be accessed. Note, adding a "\*" at the end of a given URI property, for example, "/a*" will let the client access "/a", "/a/b", etc.

Solving the problem with preventing the update can be easily solved by adding an httpVerb property to a given OAuthPermission.

One more option is to rely on the role-based access control and have @RolesAllowed allocated such that only users in roles like "client" or "enduser" can invoke the getCalendar() method and let only those in the "enduser" role access getPrivateCalendar() and updateCalendar(). OAuthPermission can help here too as described in the section on using OAuth fiters.

Providing different access points to end users and clients

Rather than letting both the end users and 3rd party clients use the same URI such as "\{id}", one may want to introduce two URIs, one for end users and one for third-party clients, for example, "\{id}" - for endusers, "\{id}" - for the 3rd party clients and deploy 2 jaxrs endpoints, where one is protected by the security filter checking the end users, and the one - by OAuth filters.

Additionally the endpoint managing the 3rd party clients will deploy a resource which will offer a resticted URI space support. For example, if the application will only allow 3rd party clients to read calendars then this resource will only have a method supporting @GET and "/calendar/\{id}".