Program guide > Programming for security

Local security

WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides several security endpoints to allow you to integrate custom mechanisms. In the local programming model, the main security function is authorization, and has no authentication support . You must authenticate outside of WebSphere Application Server. However, there are provided plug-ins to obtain and validate Subject objects.

Enable security

The following list provides the two ways in which local security is enabled:


In the local programming model, eXtreme Scale does not provide any authentication mechanism, but relies on the environment, either application servers or applications, for authentication. When eXtreme Scale is used in WebSphere Application Server or WebSphere Extended Deployment, applications can use the WAS security authentication mechanism. When eXtreme Scale is running in a Java™ 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) environment, the application has to manage authentications with Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) authentication or other authentication mechanisms. For more information about using JAAS authentication, see the JAAS reference guide. The contract between an application and an ObjectGrid instance is the object. After the client is authenticated by the application server or the application, the application can retrieve the authenticated object and use this Subject object to get a session from the ObjectGrid instance by calling the ObjectGrid.getSession(Subject) method. This Subject object is used to authorize accesses to the map data. This contract is called a subject passing mechanism. The following example illustrates the ObjectGrid.getSession(Subject) API.

 * This API allows the cache to use a specific subject rather than the one
 * configured on the ObjectGrid to get a session.
 * @param subject
 * @return An instance of Session
 * @throws ObjectGridException
 * @throws TransactionCallbackException
 * @throws InvalidSubjectException the subject passed in is not valid based
 * on the SubjectValidation mechanism.
public Session getSession(Subject subject)
throws ObjectGridException, TransactionCallbackException, InvalidSubjectException;

The ObjectGrid.getSession() method in the ObjectGrid interface can also be used to get a Session object:

 * This method returns a Session object that can be used by a single thread at a time.
 * You cannot share this Session object between threads without placing a
 * critical section around it. While the core framework allows the object to move
 * between threads, the TransactionCallback and Loader might prevent this usage,
 * especially in J2EE environments. When security is enabled, this method uses the
 * SubjectSource to get a Subject object.
 * If the initialize method has not been invoked prior to the first
 * getSession invocation, then an implicit initialization occurs.  This
 * initialization ensures that all of the configuration is complete before
 * any runtime usage is required.
 * @see #initialize()
 * @return An instance of Session
 * @throws ObjectGridException
 * @throws TransactionCallbackException
 * @throws IllegalStateException if this method is called after the
 *         destroy() method is called.
public Session getSession()
throws ObjectGridException, TransactionCallbackException;

As the API documentation specifies, when security is enabled, this method uses the SubjectSource plug-in to get a Subject object. The SubjectSource plug-in is one of the security plug-ins defined in eXtreme Scale to support propagating Subject objects. See Security-related plug-ins for more information. The getSession(Subject) method can be called on the local ObjectGrid instance only. If you call the getSession(Subject) method on a client side in a distributed eXtreme Scale configuration, an IllegalStateException results.

Security plug-ins

WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides two security plug-ins that are related to the subject passing mechanism: the SubjectSource and SubjectValidation plug-ins.

SubjectSource plug-in

The SubjectSource plug-in, represented by the interface, is a plug-in that is used to get a Subject object from an eXtreme Scale running environment. This environment can be an application using the ObjectGrid or an application server that hosts the application. Consider the SubjectSource plug-in an alternative to the subject passing mechanism. Using the subject passing mechanism, the application retrieves the Subject object and uses it to get the ObjectGrid session object. With the SubjectSource plug-in, the eXtreme Scale runtime retrieves the Subject object and uses it to get the session object. The subject passing mechanism gives the control of Subject objects to applications, while the SubjectSource plug-in mechanism frees applications from retrieving the Subject object. Use the SubjectSource plug-in to get a Subject object that represents an eXtreme Scale client that is used for authorization. When the ObjectGrid.getSession method is called, the Subject getSubject throws an ObjectGridSecurityException if security is enabled. WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides a default implementation of this plug-in: This implementation can be used to retrieve a caller subject or a RunAs subject from the thread when an application is running in WAS. You can configure this class in the ObjectGrid descriptor XML file as the SubjectSource implementation class when using eXtreme Scale in WebSphere Application Server. The following code snippet shows the main flow of the WSSubjectSourceImpl.getSubject method.

Subject s = null;
try {
  if (finalType == RUN_AS_SUBJECT) {
    // get the RunAs subject
    s =;
  else if (finalType == CALLER_SUBJECT) {
    // get the callersubject
    s =;
catch (WSSecurityException wse) {
  throw new ObjectGridSecurityException(wse);

return s;

For other details, refer to the API documentation for the SubjectSource plug-in and the WSSubjectSourceImpl implementation.

SubjectValidation plug-in

The SubjectValidation plug-in, which is represented by the interface, is another security plug-in. The SubjectValidation plug-in can be used to validate that a, either passed to the ObjectGrid or retrieved by the SubjectSource plug-in, is a valid Subject that has not been tampered with.

The SubjectValidation.validateSubject(Subject) method in the SubjectValidation interface takes a Subject object and returns a Subject object. Whether a Subject object is considered valid and which Subject object is returned are all up to the implementations. If the Subject object is not valid, an InvalidSubjectException results.

You can use this plug-in if you do not trust the Subject object that is passed to this method. This case is rare considering that you trust the application developers who develop the code to retrieve the Subject object.

An implementation of this plug-in needs support from the Subject object creator because only the creator knows if the Subject object has been tampered with. However, some subject creator might not know if the Subject has been tampered with. In this case, this plug-in is not useful.

WebSphere eXtreme Scale provides a default implementation of SubjectValidation: Use this implementation to validate the WAS-authenticated subject. You can configure this class as the SubjectValidation implementation class when using eXtreme Scale in WebSphere Application Server. The WSSubjectValidationImpl implementation considers a Subject object valid only if the credential token that is associated with this Subject has not been tampered with. You can change other parts of the Subject object. The WSSubjectValidationImpl implementation asks WebSphere Application Server for the original Subject corresponding to the credential token and returns the original Subject object as the validated Subject object. Therefore, the changes made to the Subject contents other than the credential token have no effects. The following code snippet shows the basic flow of the WSSubjectValidationImpl.validateSubject(Subject).

// Create a LoginContext with scheme WSLogin and
// pass a Callback handler.
LoginContext lc = new LoginContext("WSLogin",
new WSCredTokenCallbackHandlerImpl(subject));

// When this method is called, the callback handler methods
// will be called to log the user in.

// Get the subject from the LoginContext
return lc.getSubject();

In the previous code snippet, a credential token callback handler object, WSCredTokenCallbackHandlerImpl, is created with the Subject object to validate. Then a LoginContext object is created with the login scheme WSLogin. When the lc.login method is called, WebSphere Application Server security retrieves the credential token from the Subject object and then returns the correspondent Subject as the validated Subject object.

For other details, refer to the Java APIs of SubjectValidation and WSSubjectValidationImpl implementation.

Plug-in configuration

You can configure the SubjectValidation plug-in and SubjectSource plug-in in two ways:

Write the own JAAS authentication code

You can write you own Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) authentication code to handle the authentication. You need to write the own login modules and then configure the login modules for the authentication module.

The login module receives information about a user and authenticates the user. This information can be anything that can identify the user. For example, the information can be a user ID and password, client certificate, and so on. After receiving the information, the login module verifies that the information represents a valid subject and then creates a Subject object. Currently, several implementations of login modules are available to the public.

After a login module is written, configure this login module for the run time to use. You must configure a JAAS login module. This login module contains the login module and its authentication scheme. For example:

    com.acme.auth.FileLoginModule required

The authentication scheme is FileLogin and the login module is com.acme.auth.FileLoginModule. The required token indicates that the FileLoginModule module must validate this login or the entire scheme fails.

Set the JAAS login module configuration file can be done in one of the following ways:

If the code is running in WAS, configure the JAAS login in the administrative console and store this login configuration in the application server configuration. See Login configuration for Java Authentication and Authorization Service for details.

Parent topic:

Program for security

Related concepts

Client authentication programming

Client authorization programming

Data grid authentication

Related reference

Security API