Spring Security and Attribute-Based Access Control

Spring Security, a project in the wider Spring framework, aims to provide an authentication and authorization framework around the core Spring. Having started its life as Acegi Security in 2003 before getting absorbed into the Spring framework, we recently saw the release of version 4 of Spring Security.

Spring Security examines security as a cross-cutting concern and provides good separation between application, security and business logic. Architecturally and from an implementation point of view, Spring Security provides the right capabilities to support an XACML based externalized policy-driven access control architecture.

The ABAC Angle

Version 3 of Spring introduced the concept of Spring Expression Language (SpEL), a language that “supports querying and manipulating an object graph at runtime”. This can also be used to provide authorization support in the Spring security framework. While Spring Security comes with built-in expressions (like hasRole, hasPermission etc.) that can be used in conjunction with Web and Method security expressions, the existing capability is still not enough to support policy-based, fine-grained, externalized access control systems, like XACML.

Axiomatics provides an SDK for customers who are interested in integrating XACML into their Spring and Spring Security framework based enterprise Java applications. In our webinar “Axiomatics Boot Camp: Spring Security and ABAC” we explore the approach and provide some details about the SDK. We also go into the details about recent enhancement made to the SDK.

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