The seed-security-core module provides application-level security. It takes charge of the following tasks:

  • Identification (provides the identity of a subject),
  • Authentication (verifies the subject identity),
  • Authorization (defines which roles and permissions a subject can have),
  • Access-control (enforces access restrictions to entry-points and/or to any arbitrary code).

The security engine used by SeedStack is Apache Shiro.


Security support requires the following dependency in your project:

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dependencies {


Subjects represent the entity which executes actions on the application. The most common type of subject is the «User» type, which represents a human operator interacting with the application. Subjects are allowed to perform certain actions in your application through their association with roles or direct permissions. Assigning roles and permissions to subjects is done through one or more Realm.


A Role is a named entity that typically represents a set of behaviors or responsibilities. Those behaviors translate to things you can or can’t do with an application. Roles are typically assigned to subject like user accounts, so by association, subjects can do the things attributed to various roles.


Permissions are the most atomic elements of a security policy. They describe concrete actions and represent what can be done in an application. A well-formed permission statement describes one or more resource(s) and what actions are possible when a subject interacts with those resources. Consider the following examples of permissions:

  • Open a file,
  • Print a document,
  • Access the /products Web resource,
  • Delete an order.

CRUD actions can frequently be found in permissions but any meaningful verb can be used. The fundamental idea is that a permission should combine a resource description with an action description.

Permission statements reflect behavior (actions associated with resource types) only. They do not reflect who is able to perform such behavior. Defining who (which subject) can do what (which permission) is done by assigning permission to subjects.

Simple usage

The simplest expression of a permission is a single term String:


These permissions represent the ability to print, delete or view a document. This very basic form of permission requires to be granted one-by-one or with a * wildcard, which will grant all the permissions of the application. This may work in the simplest applications but it is not recommended. The multi-level permissions should be preferred.


Instead of expressing the permission as a single term, a multi-level permission can be used:


The colon (:) is a special character that is used to delimit the different parts of a multi-level permission. There are no enforced requirements on how a multi-level permission should be organized, but it is recommended to go from the most general to the most specific, from left to right. Also, there is no limit to the number of parts.

Multiple values

Each part can contain multiple values, separated by commas (,):


When assigning this permission to a subject, this grants the ability to print and view documents.

All values

To grant all permissions of a specific level, use the * wildcard character:


The first permission, when assigned to a subject, allow to do any action on documents (meaning that any permission check of the document:XXX pattern will be granted). The second permission grants the view action on all application resources (meaning that any permission check of the XXX:view pattern will be granted).

Instance-level checks

The identifier of a specific instance can be used at the end of a permission:


This permission allows to print the document identified by the doc273 identifier.

Missing parts

Missing parts in permissions imply that the user has access to all values corresponding to that part:


This permission is equivalent to:


Note that you can only leave off parts from the end of the permission.


A security realm is responsible for authenticating and authorizing subjects. Realms can retrieve information from various data sources.

Configuring realms is done as below:

  # Ordered list of security realms used to authenticate and authorize subjects
      # Name of the security realm
      name: (String)
      # Name of the role mapper used for this realm (optional)
      roleMapper: (String)
      # Name of the permission resolver used for this realm (optional)
      permissionResolver: (String)

To dump the security.realms configuration options:

mvn -q -Dargs="security.realms" seedstack:config

Built-in realms

SeedStack provides the following realms:

  • ConfigurationRealm which uses the application configuration.
  • X509CertificateRealm which uses X509 certificates.
  • LdapRealm which uses an LDAP directory.

ConfigurationRealm is the default realm, which is fine for development and testing purposes. You may need to use more robust and flexible realms in production, like the LdapRealm.

Configuration-based realm

This realm relies on the application configuration to authenticate subject and retrieve their roles. It is mainly intended to be used for testing purposes. To declare subjects (called users in this realm), use the following configuration:

  # Map of users and their properties
      # Password of the user
      password: somePassword
      # List of roles granted to the user.
      roles: [ role1, role2 ]

To dump the security.users configuration options:

mvn -q -Dargs="security.users" seedstack:config

This configuration defines one subject named user1 with its respective password and roles.

X509 certificate realm

This realm, which is intended to be used in Web applications, uses the certificates authorized by the Web server when an SSL connection is in use. It stores the certificates in the user principals as well as the UID declared in the certificate. It also uses the CN of the issuer of the certificates to define the basic roles of the user.

LDAP realm

This realm is available in the LDAP add-on.

Custom realm

You can create a custom realm by:

  • Creating a class that implements Realm.
  • Use the realm class simple name in the name configuration attribute of the realm.

Permission resolver

Each realm has its own permission resolver. It resolves the permissions granted for a given role.

Configuration-based permission resolver

This is the default permission resolver. It uses the application configuration to resolve permissions for roles:

  # Map of permissions for a particular role
      - permission1
      - permission2
      - permission3
      - permission1
      - permission4

To dump the security.permissions configuration options:

mvn -q -Dargs="security.permissions" seedstack:config

Custom permission resolver

You can create a custom permission resolver by:

  • Creating a class that implements RolePermissionResolver.
  • Using your class simple name in the permissionResolver configuration attribute of the realm.

Role mapper

Each realm has its own role mapper. It has the ability to map a role name retrieved by the realm to a more friendly application role name.

Configuration-based role mapper

This is the default role mapper. It uses the application configuration to map role names:

  # Mapping of role names
    role1: [ 'ORG.APP.ROLE1', 'ORG.GLOBAL.ADMIN' ]
    role2: [ 'ORG.APP.ROLE2' ]
    role3: 'ORG.APP.{location}.ROLE3'
    role4: '*'

To dump the security.roles configuration options:

mvn -q -Dargs="security.roles" seedstack:config

The configuration above configuration defines the following mappings:

  • Application-role role1 is attributed to the subject when the realm provides ORG.APP.ROLE1 OR ORG.GLOBAL.ADMIN.
  • Application-role role2 is attributed to the subject when the realm provides ORG.APP.ROLE2.
  • Application-role role3 is attributed to the subject when the realm provides ORG.APP.FR.ROLE3, where FR is converted into a security scope. As such a scoped role3 is attributed to the subject, which is only valid in FR location.
  • Application-role role4 is attributed to every subject authenticated.

An application role is granted when at least one of the realm roles in the list is granted (logical OR).

Custom role mapper

You can create a custom role mapper by:

  • Creating a class that implements RoleMapping.
  • Using your class simple name in the roleMapper configuration attribute of the realm.


The following example is based on the defaults:

  • A ConfigurationRealm,
  • A ConfigurationRolePermissionResolver,
  • A ConfigurationRoleMapping.
      password: password1
      roles: 'APP.ADMIN'
      password: password2
      roles: [ 'APP.FR.MANAGER', 'APP.UK.MANAGER' ]
      password: password3
      roles: 'APP.BASIC'
    admin: 'APP.ADMIN'
    manager: [ 'APP.ADMIN', 'APP.{location}.MANAGER' ]
    normal: [ 'APP.ADMIN', 'APP.BASIC' ]
    guest: '*'
    admin: [ 'users:clear', 'cache:invalidate' ]
    manager: [ 'users:delete', 'users:create' ]
    normal: 'users:list'

Note that:

  • Application-roles (admin, manager, normal and guest) are attributed to a subject if it has at least one of the corresponding realm roles (APP.ADMIN, APP.FR.MANAGER , APP.UK.MANAGER, APP.BASIC). For instance, having the APP.ADMIN realm role is enough to have the manager application-role.
  • Subject user1 will only have the users:delete and users:create permissions on FR and UK locations.
  • Subject admin will have the users:delete and users:create permissions everywhere (no location restriction).
  • The guest application-role will be attributed to every identified subject.

Code access-control

Access-control can be done by two means: annotation-based checks and programmatic checks.

It is strongly recommended to check for permissions, instead of checking for roles. Since a permission represent an action, it is a natural fit for protecting the portion of code implementing this very action. On the contrary a role check is generally too broad.

Annotation-based checks

There are two annotations that checks for authorizations before allowing method execution:

  • @RequiresRoles which checks that the current subject has one or more role(s) before allowing to execute the method.
  • @RequiresPermissions which checks that the current subject has one or more permission(s) before allowing to execute the method.

When the security check fails, an exception of type AuthorizationException is thrown:

public class SomeClass {
    public void deleteUser(User user) {
        // This method is executed only if current subject has role 'administrator'
        // When not, an AuthorizationException is thrown
    public void createAccount(Account account) {
        // This method is executed only if current subject has permission 'account:create'
        // When not, an AuthorizationException is thrown

Note that these annotation-based security checks are implemented with method interception and are subject to its limitations.

Programmatic checks

If annotation-based security checks cannot be used, or if a programmatic style is preferred, the SecuritySupport facade can be injected:

public class SomeClass {
	private SecuritySupport securitySupport;
	public void doChecks() {
        // To check if the current subject, if any, is authenticated:
        if (securitySupport.isAuthenticated()) {
        // To check if the current subject, if any, has a specific role:
        if (securitySupport.hasRole("admin")) {
        // To check if the current subject, if any, has a specific permission:
        if (securitySupport.isPermitted("cache:invalidate")) {

Access to subject principals

The SecuritySupport facade provides access to current subject principals:

public class SomeClass {
	private SecuritySupport securitySupport;
	public void retrievePrincipals() {
        // Get current subject id
        // Get current subject first name, if any

HTTP access-control

In a Web application, security can also be enforced at the HTTP-level by a servlet filter using URL filtering patterns. This feature requires the following dependency in your project:

Show version
dependencies {

The security servlet filter is automatically added on /* and has the ability to intercept all application URLs.

URL patterns

You can configure URL patterns to intercept in configuration:

      # List of secured URL patterns
          pattern: /some/path/specific
          filters: [ filter1, filter2 ]
          pattern: /some/path/**
          filters: [ filter3, filter4, filter5 ]
          pattern: /other/path/*
          filters: [ filter6 ]
          pattern: /**
          filters: fallbackFilter

To dump the security.web.urls configuration options:

mvn -q -Dargs="security.web.urls" seedstack:config

The URL patterns are Ant-style path expressions relative to your Web application’s context root.

Order is important as the first pattern to match the incoming request is applied and subsequent patterns are ignored. This behavior allows to define a catch-all default pattern at the end that will apply if no above filters matched.


When a pattern is matched, the filters relative to this pattern are applied in sequence.

Built-in filters

Various built-in filters are directly available by specifying their names (and eventual parameters) in the filter chain:

  • anon: immediately allows access to the path without performing security checks of any kind (unless you add other filters after it in the chain).
  • authc: authenticates the subject using the request params (username and password). This can be used for form authentication.
  • authcBasic: triggers and checks a basic authentication.
  • cert: extracts the certificates found by the JEE server and provides them to a X509CertificateRealm. You can specify the optional parameter to allow the request even if certificate authentication fails: cert[optional].
  • logout: logs out the current subject. Note that it will clear the subject session and will invalidate the corresponding security caches. Note that basic authentication credentials are kept by user-agents (like browsers), meaning that authentication will automatically happen again during the next request.
  • noSessionCreation: will prevent the creation of a security session.
  • perms: checks for the permission specified as a parameter. Only allows access if the current subject has the specified permission. Multiple permissions can be specified with commas: perms[users:delete, cache:invalidate] for instance.
  • port: requires the request to be on the specified port: port[8080] for instance.
  • rest: similar to the perms filter but appends a CRUD verb derived from the HTTP method to the specified permission(s). For instance, rest[users] will check the following permissions depending on the HTTP verb:
    • DELETE checks for the users:delete permission,
    • GET checks for the users:read permission,
    • HEAD checks for the users:read permission,
    • OPTIONS checks for the users:read permission,
    • POST checks for the users:create permission,
    • PUT checks for the users:update permission,
    • TRACE checks for the users:read permission.
  • roles: checks that the subject has the specified role(s). Only allows access if current subject has all the specified roles. Multiple roles can be specified with commas: roles[manager, admin] for instance.
  • ssl: Only allows access if the request is on port 443 and ServletRequest.isSecure() returns true.
  • user: Only allows access if the user is identified.

Custom filters

You can define you own custom security filters by

  1. Creating a class implementing Filter
  2. Annotating it with @SecurityFilter. The annotation value will define the name of the filter that can be used in filter chains.

Consider a filter that always returns HTTP response code 418:

public class TeapotFilter implements Filter {
    public void init(FilterConfig filterConfig) throws ServletException {
        // nothing to do

    public void doFilter(ServletRequest request, 
                         ServletResponse response, 
                         FilterChain chain) throws IOException, ServletException {

    public void destroy() {
        // nothing to do

You can use this filter like this:

          pattern: /teapot
          filters: teapot

When a subject access the /teapot URL, an HTTP response code 418 will be returned. To create advanced security filters, you can extend existing Shiro security filters, or use them as models.


Consider the following configuration:

          pattern: /static/**
          filters: anon
          pattern: /api/users
          filters: [ ssl, authcBasic, 'rest[users]' ]
          pattern: /api/**
          filters: [ authcBasic, 'roles[normal]' ]
          pattern: /**
          filters: authcBasic

This gives the following HTTP security policy:

  • Anything served under /static can be accessed anonymously.
  • The /api/users resource can only be accessed by authenticated subjects in HTTPS with the users:<action> permission, where <action> is dependent upon the HTTP method used (see the rest filter above for details).
  • Anything else served under /api can only be accessed by authenticated subjects with the basic application-role.
  • All others URLs can only be accessed by authenticated subjects.
  • In this example, authentication is handled with the Basic Authentication scheme.


Testing the security model and its effective enforcement is a good practice.

Defining test users

In your test configuration, you can use the ConfigurationRealm realm to define test users like described here.

Subject authentication

To authenticate a subject before a test method is executed, use the @WithUser annotation:

	public class SomeSecurityIT {
	    private SecuritySupport securitySupport;
	    private MySecuredService mySecuredService;

	    @Test(expected = AuthorizationException.class)
	    @WithUser(id = "basic", password = "password")
	    public void unprivilegedUserCannotAccessSecuredService() {
	        fail("securedMethod() shouldn't have been called");
	    @WithUser(id = "admin", password = "password")
	    public void adminUserIsAllowedToAccessSecuredService() {