[javaee-spec users] Re: Position on SecurityManager/Policy SE APIs

From: Raymond Auge <>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 11:43:00 -0400

I think the point is being missed that I may want to implement some
"component" which allows runtime management of SecurityManagers and/or
Polcies, in collaboration with the "container" (i.e. having been granted
permission to do so, which is also currently possible).

However, it seems that due to the fact that one cannot reliably trust
application code is honouring the state of these APIs means it's impossible.

Java SE created dynamic APIs for a reason, so they could be leveraged by
developers, so they might enable reactive security management, adjusting to
changes and security demands in real time.

Application and information security is becoming a greater and greater
concern and as I tweeted yesterday, it's currently impossible for a javaee
platform system administrator to simply "enable" security in self
defence if faced with an attack without tacking the system offline, even if
offered the option to do so. Currently, the application will simply break!

I hope my point makes sense.

- Ray

On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM, Ron Monzillo <>wrote:

> On 8/22/13 8:30 AM, Raymond Auge wrote:
> Thank you Ron for your response.
> Allow me to clarify further. And please if this is still not enough,
> just ask.
> The JSP RI (which is the forked Jasper implementation) contains the
> following:
> public static final boolean IS_SECURITY_ENABLED =
> (System.getSecurityManager() != null);
> While this seems to be innocuous enough what it really means is that no
> consumer of that impl can rely on the SecurityManager API.
> My first reaction was to file a bug report:
> I also went to the original developers, the tomcat project developer
> list, and asked for their position on the matter. The discussion was
> quickly curtailed as "we don't support dynamic changes of the
> SecurityManager". Understandable, since at this point tomcat's Jasper is a
> "custom implementation" of the JSP spec.
> Raymond,
> I checked out your "Constants.IS_SECURITY_ENABLED", thread on the tomcat
> developers list.
> the EE 7 spec only requires that every product support running with a
> security manager; it does not require that it be possible to dynamically
> change this characteristic (presumably after the product has completed its
> initialization). Also EE makes no requirement that a security manager (or
> its effect, i.e., permission checking) be enabled for some apps, while not
> for others. The security manager is a container feature, intended to
> protect the container and os resources that the container process may have
> access to from code (typically applications) running within the container.
> There should be no expectation that applications that perform internal
> permission checks will be able to enable the SecurityManager of their
> hosting container. Moreover the security manager and permission
> requirements of EE 7 cannot be presumed to be satisfied by Non EE 7
> compatible web containers (of which I think Tomcat would be an example).
> iow, and imo, Tomcat's support for running with a SecurityManager exists
> independent of the EE 7
> requirement to be able to do so, and Tomcat's internal reliance on its
> Tomcat implementation detail.
> that said, if an application depends on being able to perform
> SecurityManager based permission checks, it will require a hosting
> container in which the SecurityManager is enabled, and then I agree that
> the hosting
> hosting container should not interfere with the application's ability to
> perform SecurityManager based permission checks according to the
> recommended use pattern.
> SecurityManager s = System.getSecurityManager();
> (if (s != null) {
> s.checkPermission(p);
> }
> Also, If the application learns that the security manager is not enabled,
> it should not expect to be able to set a security manager for the
> container. It might choose to initialize itself with reduced functionality
> or to fail in its initialization. imv, the value of IS_SECURITY_ENABLED
> must be consistent with that of (System.getSeucirtyManager() != null) since
> the constant can have no effect on embedded permission checks in jvm
> provided classes like sockets and it is likely that your app can
> also rely on this consistency.
> fwiw, if your app needs to perform permission checks in an environment
> where you cannot rely on the security manager being enabled, then you might
> want to consider making your checks by calling some other access control
> api. Java also provides Policy.implies, or
> AccessController.checkPermission.
> HTH,
> Ron
> Therefore, I had hoped that at the Java EE specification level someone
> may at least be inclined to offer a statement toward whether there is even
> grounds for making such a bug report.
> So my goal here is simply to identify whether there is some precedent,
> charter of behaviour, set of rules, code of conduct, etc., by which the
> Java EE specifications and their RIs are obliged to NOT break the
> behaviours of the Java SE APIs upon which they are founded, even while not
> containing or omitting specifics in their language or wording.
> It seems to me that the RIs developed within Java EE should not take
> liberties that custom implementations may afford to take since RIs tend to
> be, by their nature, more portable and representative of best practices.
> I hope that clarifies things.
> Sincerely,
> - Ray
> On Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM, Ron Monzillo <>wrote:
>> On 8/21/13 11:31 AM, Raymond Auge wrote:
>> Hello everyone,
>> My name is Raymond Auge and this is my first email to the list.
>> Hopefully I follow proper protocol. Please let me know if I have not.
>> -----
>> Sorry, my question may seem odd.
>> I would like to get an official position statement on the handling of
>> the SecurityManager/Policy APIs with respect to Java EE?
>> I suppose I am asking:
>> "Is it OK for Java EE specifications/implementations to make
>> assumptions about the state of the SecurityManager/Policy without
>> respecting changes in their runtime state?"
>> If you think there is an issue with the specifications, it would help if
>> you could provide a reference to the
>> specification content.
>> that said, a perhaps overly simplistic answer to your question, is that
>> EE 7 requires that every EE product be able to run with a security manager
>> enabled. So for example, it would not be appropriate for an implementation
>> to assume that a security manager will not (or at least never) be enabled.
>> For prior releases of EE, one might conclude otherwise.
>> Regarding the runtime or installation specific state of access control
>> Policy (as enforced by the Policy system) there is an expectation that the
>> Policy implementation enforce the policy as configured for the
>> installation, with the additional requirement that every EE product provide
>> a means for applications to be granted some specific permissions identified
>> in the EE specification.
>> EE 7 also added a new facility by which applications may declare the
>> permissions that they require.
>> I'll stop there for now,
>> Ron
>> --
>> *Raymond Augé* <>
>> (@rotty3000)
>> Senior Software Architect
>> *Liferay, Inc.* <> (@Liferay)
> --
> *Raymond Augé* <>
> (@rotty3000)
> Senior Software Architect
> *Liferay, Inc.* <> (@Liferay)

*Raymond Augé* <>
Senior Software Architect
*Liferay, Inc.* <> (@Liferay)