Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Security Best Practices

Server safety is first

The demands of security have gone far beyond simply managing user accounts and restricting access between internal and external networks. Emerging business practices challenge the enterprise to create flexible and robust security architectures that meet rapidly changing business demands. This article provides best practices tips that an administrator can implement to secure an enterprise. The land mines are highlighted so you know what to avoid.

The open, flexible, easy-to-configure security architecture of BEA WebLogic Server delivers advantages at multiple levels and introduces an advanced security design for application servers. Systems have to be protected from both insiders and outsiders. Misuse of a system or improper administration can leave it open for intrusion or attack.

Using development mode for domains running in production mode is not recommended. Never use development mode for production servers; it relaxes the security constraints for all servers in a domain. If you are using compatible security (using 6.x security configuration in 8.x), disable guest logins in production so that they cannot be used to access WebLogic resources in a WebLogic Server domain.

SerializedSystemIni.dat contains hashes for the passwords in a domain; ensure that you store a copy of this file in a safe place. Give read privileges for SerializedSystemIni.dat only to the WebLogic system administrator account. If you lose the administrative password, and the boot identity is not stored in the form of a boot.properties file, you cannot restart your servers. Later, I will explain how to recover the administrative password if you lose it.

While creating scripts to automate WebLogic administration tasks, the option ?Dweblogic.system.BootIdentityFile lets you avoid hard-coding a username and password in your text script. Also, more than anything else file system security of the WebLogic installation directories is most important. Allow access only to the user account that will be used to run or administer the WebLogic domain.

Tips

  • Install JRE instead of the complete SDK.
  • Remove or delete the development tools provided by BEA, such as the Configuration Wizard, WebLogic Builder, and jCOM tools.
  • The Pointbase database provided with WebLogic installation is for evaluation purposes and not supported in a production environment. Delete it.
  • Do not install the sample domains while installing in production or delete the sample domains if already installed.
  • Instead of hard-coding user identity in the start scripts, store the encrypted boot identity of the user who has privileges to start WebLogic Server in the boot.properties file.
  • BEA recommends using security roles (rather than users or groups) to secure WebLogic resources; assign users to groups, then create role statements.
  • Do not install or run WebLogic Server software as root. If you must bind to a privileged port, use postbind UID or postbind GID in the WebLogic machine configuration.
  • Set the ownership of the WebLogic installation and applications directory for access only by the user account that runs the server.

J2EE Application Security

Changing a security policy defined in a J2EE deployment descriptor requires redeployment; changing an embedded LDAP policy in the admin console is dynamic. Create application policies using the WebLogic Administration Console. When you create a security policy using the administration console, if inherited policy statements are present in the Inherited Policy Statement box of the Policy Editor page, the new policy overrides them.

Always keep source code off the production machine. Do not install uncompiled JSPs and other source code on the production machine. Configure your applications to use SSL. Set the transport- guarantee to CONFIDENTIAL in the user-data-constraint element of the web.xml file to secure specific resources of the web application using SSL.

Recovering Administrator Password

WebLogic provides four default administrative roles. The administrative user created during domain creation will be a part of the "Admin" role. Configure additional administrative users to roles such as Admin, Deployer, Monitor, or Operator. When using the default authenticator, if you have not modified the global Admin role (which by default is granted to the Administrator's group), you can recover the administrator password in a WebLogic domain.

To recover the administrator password in a WebLogic domain:

  • At the command line, change directory to the domain and run the setEnv script to set the PATH and CLASSPATH.
  • Create a new DefaultAuthenticatorInit.ldift: run java weblogic.security.utils.AdminAccount <tempadmin> <temppassword>.
  • Remove the initialized status file, DefaultAuthenticatormyrealmInit.initialized from the <Domain>/<Server>/ldap subdirectory.
  • Restart the server, using the new user identity.
  • To change the old admin user identity, log into the admin console (Optional).

SSL

When using SSL with WebLogic Server, use keystores; storing identity (private keys and certs) and trust (CA) in files is deprecated. Migrating from an earlier version might require you to create keystores from private keys, certs, or trust files.

If the network that connects WebLogic Servers in a domain is not trusted, enable SSL on each server in the domain so that LDAP replication between the admin server and managed servers uses SSL connections. Enabling the administration port of the domain enforces all the servers in the WebLogic domain to use SSL.

The default WebLogic installation represents exportable-strength SSL implementation (the maximum SSL strength is 512-bit keys with 40-bit bulk encryption). Key lengths longer than 512 bits require a domestic-strength SSL license key from BEA. If you use SSL in your production environment, use high-strength SSL. Key lengths of less than 1024 bits are generally considered weak.

SSL hardware accelerators: Running SSL on the WebLogic Servers is a tremendous drain on server resources. By offloading SSL processing, the resources can be applied to WebLogic functions. SSL processing can be handled by Web servers, load balancers, firewalls, or switches.

Incoming connections in WebLogic Server can be controlled by filtering them. WebLogic Server provides a default implementation of connection filter that you can configure in the admin console.

Tips

  • To avoid compromising application security, install and configure server-specific SSL certificates and enable hostname verification on production servers.
  • In production, do not use the sample SSL certificates that are provided with WebLogic.
  • Use a load balancer with built-in secure sockets layer (SSL) support, or run WebLogic Server on a machine that has SSL hardware, with Java Cryptography Extension (JCE).
  • Use SSL with WebLogic Server only if it is necessary. SSL degrades performance.
  • To control the types of connections accepted by WebLogic Server instances, use Connection Filters.

Securing the Admin Console

Applications should be installed on the managed server rather than installing them on the administration server. But if you use the admin server to serve applications (or in a single-server domain), do the following for better security:
  • Change the default admin user and password to custom.
  • Change the admin console context root path.
  • Enable domain-wide administration port.
  • Consider disabling the admin console.

Authentication Providers

If you use an external LDAP provider, store the server boot identity in the embedded LDAP server, and set timeouts on the external LDAP authentication provider. This way, if the external LDAP server is unavailable you can continue to restart and to serve unprotected data with WebLogic Server. Also before you apply any changes, set the control flag for all authentication providers to OPTIONAL; this prevents a configuration error from causing a production server not to restart.

WebLogic Server provides a custom realm, the NTRealm, based on older security realm API that supports native Windows domain authentication. NTRealm is useful with Windows domains that are not set up to use Active Directory.

Tips

  • Store the server boot identity in the embedded LDAP server.
  • For finer control of a production environment, use Active Directory authentication, rather than native Windows domain (NTRealm) authentication.
  • To prevent denial-of-service attacks, modify the timeout and maximum-size values for the incoming protocol ports (T3, COM, IIOP, HTTP Post time out) on the server.
  • Have a security audit performed by an internal or external auditing group.

Backup and Recovery

To migrate or recover WebLogic domains in case of failures, periodically back up the entire domain directory tree from the administration server machine. This way you can recover from a hardware or system failure by merely restoring the domain directory and restarting the admin server. Some important files to be watched/backed up periodically from the administration server machine in a WebLogic production domain are:
  • config.xml: Domain configuration repository.
  • config.xml.booted: Good backup of domain configuration repository from a successful boot.
  • boot.properties: Encrypted username and password for booting administration server.
  • running-managed-servers.xml: List of dependent managed servers currently running. This file is used for discovering managed servers if administration server gets restarted while the managed servers are running.
  • domain/configArchive/: Contains the copies of the Domain Configuration Repository files. When updated using administration tools, the administration server copies the old config.xml to this directory.
  • domain\adminserver\ldap\ldapfiles: Embedded LDAP data files currently being used by the domain's administration server.
  • *.ldift files: Can be used to initialize the WebLogic Domain Embedded LDAP server back to when the Domain was created.
  • domain/adminserver/ldap/backup/EmbeddedLDAPBackup.zip: Backup of the WebLogic Domain embedded LDAP server. Embedded LDAP is used to store users, groups, roles, policies by the default security realm, myrealm's security providers.
  • SerializedSystemIni.dat: Contains encrypted security data that must be present to boot the server.
  • Security Certificates: Security certificates and keys being used by the servers of a domain should also be backed up. The location of these files is user configurable.
  • Batch/Shell Scripts: setEnv.cmd/sh, startWebLogic.cmd/sh, startManagedWebLogic.cmd/sh.
The WebLogic administrator can check for BEA security advisories to download security-related patches and register to receive notifications of newly available security advisories. Refer to the BEA Advisories & Notifications page on the dev2dev Web site at http://dev2dev.bea.com/advisories.

More Stories By Balamurali Kothandaraman

Balamurali Kothandaraman is a delivery technologist for education services at BEA Systems Inc. He has over 7 years of experience in Java and J2EE technologies and is a BEA Certified Server Specialist, Administrator, and Instructor. Bala is a frequent speaker at various conferences, including eWorld and JavaOne.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...