Program guide > Programming for security

Client authorization programming

WebSphere eXtreme Scale supports Java™ Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) authorization out-of-the-box and also supports custom authorization using the ObjectGridAuthorization interface.

The ObjectGridAuthorization plug-in is used to authorize ObjectGrid, ObjectMap and JavaMap accesses to the Principals represented by a Subject object in a custom way. A typical implementation of this plug-in is to retrieve the Principals from the Subject object, and then check whether or not the specified permissions are granted to the Principals.

A permission passed to the checkPermission(Subject, Permission) method can be one of the following permissions:

Refer to ObjectGridAuthorization API documentation for more details.


The public class represents permissions to the ObjectGrid resources, specifically the methods of ObjectMap or JavaMap interfaces. WebSphere eXtreme Scale defines the following permission strings to access the methods of ObjectMap and JavaMap:

Refer to MapPermission API documentation for more details.

You can construct a MapPermission object by passing the fully qualified ObjectGrid map name (in format [ObjectGrid_name].[ObjectMap_name]) and the permission string or integer value. A permission string can be a comma-delimited string of the previous permission strings such as read, insert, or it can be all. A permission integer value can be any previously mentioned permission integer constants or a mathematical value of several integer permission constants, such as MapPermission.READ|MapPermission.WRITE.

The authorization occurs when an ObjectMap or JavaMap method is called. The eXtreme Scale runtime checks different permissions for different methods. If the required permissions are not granted to the client, an AccessControlException results.

Table 1. List of methods and the required MapPermission
Permission ObjectMap/JavaMap
read boolean containsKey(Object)
boolean equals(Object)
Object get(Object)
Object get(Object, Serializable)
List getAll(List)
List getAll(List keyList, Serializable)
List getAllForUpdate(List)
List getAllForUpdate(List, Serializable)
Object getForUpdate(Object)
Object getForUpdate(Object, Serializable)
public Object getNextKey(long)
write Object put(Object key, Object value)
void put(Object, Object, Serializable)
void putAll(Map)
void putAll(Map, Serializable)
void update(Object, Object)
void update(Object, Object, Serializable)
insert public void insert (Object, Object)
void insert(Object, Object, Serializable)
remove Object remove (Object)
void removeAll(Collection)
void clear()
invalidate public void invalidate (Object, boolean)
void invalidateAll(Collection, boolean)
void invalidateUsingKeyword(Serializable)
int setTimeToLive(int)

Authorization is based solely on which method is used, rather than what the method really does. For example, a put method can insert or update a record based on whether the record exists. However, the insert or update cases are not distinguished.

An operation type can be achieved by combinations of other types. For example, an update can be achieved by a remove and then an insert. Consider these combinations when designing the authorization policies.


A represents permissions to the ObjectGrid:

Refer to ObjectGridPermission API documentation for more details.

The following table summarizes the methods and the required ObjectGridPermission:

Table 2. List of methods and the required ObjectGridPermission
Permission action Methods


An ServerMapPermission represents permissions to an ObjectMap hosted in a server. The name of the permission is the full name of the ObjectGrid map name. It has the following actions:

Refer to ServerMapPermission API documentation for more details. The detailed methods, which require different ServerMapPermission, are listed in the following table:

Table 3. Permissions to a server-hosted ObjectMap
Permission action Methods
replicate, int[], ReplicationMapListener)
dynamicIndex, boolean, String, DynamicIndexCallback)


An AgentPermission represents permissions to the datagrid agents. The name of the permission is the full name of the ObjectGrid map, and the action is a comma-delimited string of agent implementation class names or package names.

Refer to AgentPermission API documentation for more information.

The following methods in the class require AgentPermission., Collection), Collection), Collection)

Authorization mechanisms

WebSphere eXtreme Scale supports two kinds of authorization mechanisms: Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) authorization and custom authorization. These mechanisms apply to all authorizations. JAAS authorization augments the Java security policies with user-centric access controls. Permissions can be granted based not just on what code is running, but also on who is running it. JAAS authorization is part of the SDK v1.4 and later.

Additionally, WebSphere eXtreme Scale also supports custom authorization with the following plug-in:

You can implement the own authorization mechanism if you do not want to use JAAS authorization. By using a custom authorization mechanism, you can use the policy database, policy server, or Tivoli Access Manager to manage the authorizations.

You can configure the authorization mechanism in two ways:

JAAS authorization

A object represents an authenticated user. A Subject is comprised of a set of principals, and each Principal represents an identity for that user. For example, a Subject can have a name principal, for example, Joe Smith, and a group principal, for example, manager.

Use the JAAS authorization policy, permissions can be granted to specific Principals. WebSphere eXtreme Scale associates the Subject with the current access control context. For each call to the ObjectMap or Javamap method, the Java runtime automatically determines if the policy grants the required permission only to a specific Principal and if so, the operation is allowed only if the Subject associated with the access control context contains the designated Principal.

You must be familiar with the policy syntax of the policy file. For detailed description of JAAS authorization, refer to the JAAS Reference Guide.

WebSphere eXtreme Scale has a special code base that is used for checking the JAAS authorization to the ObjectMap and JavaMap method calls. This special code base is Use this code base when granting ObjectMap or JavaMap permissions to principals. This special code was created because the Java archive (JAR) file for eXtreme Scale is granted with all permissions.

The template of the policy to grant the MapPermission permission is:

grant codeBase "" 
<Principal field(s)>{
               "[ObjectGrid_name].[ObjectMap_name]", "action";
               "[ObjectGrid_name].[ObjectMap_name]", "action";

A Principal field looks like the following example:

principal Principal_class "principal_name"

In this policy, only insert and read permissions are granted to these four maps to a certain principal. The other policy file, fullAccessAuth.policy, grants all permissions to these maps to a principal. Before running the application, change the principal_name and principal class to appropriate values. The value of the principal_name depends on the user registry. For example, if local OS is used as user registry, the machine name is MACH1, the user ID is user1, and the principal_name is MACH1/user1.

The JAAS authorization policy can be put directly into the Java policy file, or it can be put in a separate JAAS authorization file and then set in either of two ways:

Custom ObjectGrid authorization

ObjectGridAuthorization plug-in is used to authorize ObjectGrid, ObjectMap and JavaMap accesses to the Principals represented by a Subject object in a custom way. A typical implementation of this plug-in is to retrieve the Principals from the Subject object, and then check whether or not the specified permissions are granted to the Principals.

A permission passed to the checkPermission(Subject, Permission) method could be one of the following:

Refer to ObjectGridAuthorization API documentation for more details.

The ObjectGridAuthorization plug-in can be configured in the following ways:

Implement ObjectGridAuthorization

The boolean checkPermission(Subject subject, Permission permission) method of the ObjectGridAuthorization interface is called by theWebSphere eXtreme Scale run time to check whether the passed-in subject object has the passed-in permission. The implementation of the ObjectGridAuthorization interface returns true if the object has the permission, and false if not.

A typical implementation of this plug-in is to retrieve the principals from the Subject object and check whether the specified permissions are granted to the principals by consulting specific policies. These policies are defined by users. For example, the policies can be defined in a database, a plain file, or a Tivoli Access Manager policy server.

For example, we can use Tivoli Access Manager policy server to manage the authorization policy and use its API to authorize the access. For how to use Tivoli Access Manager Authorization APIs, refer to the IBM Tivoli Access Manager Authorization Java Classes Developer Reference for more details.

This sample implementation has the following assumptions:

The following code snippet demonstrates how to implement the checkPermission method:

* @see
*         MapAuthorization#checkPermission
* (,
*         MapPermission)
public boolean checkPermission(final Subject subject, 
    Permission p) {
  // For non-MapPermission, we always authorize.
  if (!(p instanceof MapPermission)){
    return true;

  MapPermission permission = (MapPermission) p;

  String[] str = permission.getParsedNames();
  StringBuffer pdPermissionStr = new StringBuffer(5); 
  for (int i=0; i<str.length; i++) {
  PDPermission pdPerm = new PDPermission(permission.getName(), 
  Set principals = subject.getPrincipals();
  Iterator iter= principals.iterator(); 
  while(iter.hasNext()) {
    try {
      PDPrincipal principal = (PDPrincipal);
      if (principal.implies(pdPerm)) {
        return true;
    catch (ClassCastException cce) {
      // Handle exception
  return false;

Parent topic:

Program for security

Related concepts

Client authentication programming

Data grid authentication

Local security

Related reference

Security API