Security

This page gives an overview about how Magnolia handles security.

Overview: JAAS, users, groups, roles and permissions

Magnolia security is based on Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS). JAAS provides a standardized way for:

  • Authentication: Reliably and securely determine who is using the system and provide them with means to sign into the application.

  • Authorization: Ensure that users have the permissions to do the actions required such as editing pages or creating categories.

The system always checks whether a certain user has the required (set of) permissions to access a certain resource such as a web page, document, template or some other type of data. Permissions such as Access Control Lists (ACLs) are assigned to user roles. The roles can be assigned to groups or directly to the users. Finally, users can be assigned to a group.

For more details please refer also to the following pages:

Magnolia Security app

Use the Magnolia Security app to administer Users, Groups and Roles with ACLs that Magnolia provides. By default, the app stores the user, group and role data in the users, usergroups and userroles JCR workspaces.

LDAP, CAS

Magnolia also provides connectors to integrate with third-party systems such as LDAP and CAS.

Web access security

Every request sent to Magnolia is checked by URISecurityFilter. The filter checks whether the role(s) of the requesting user allow(s) the user to request a given path with the given method.

Web permissions are granted as web access lists per role. They grant access to a path for Get or Get & Post.

  • Get – Grants the HTTP GET method for a given URI.

  • Get & Post – Grants the HTTP GET, PUT, POST and DELETE methods for a given URI.

JCR security

Magnolia uses the Jackrabbit reference implementation of the Java Content Repository (JCR) 2.0 standard. ACL checks are performed at the JCR level. This low-level checking has the following benefits:

  • Better performance than checking in the application code.

  • Repository can be exposed to third-party apps. Access Control Lists (ACLs) still apply.

  • Use JCR API directly without the need to wrap objects.

Content security

Since content and templates are usually customized or completely developed by the users of Magnolia, it is the responsibility of the users to ensure that developed content is not exploitable by cross-site scripting, HTML injection or similar attacks. For templates provided with Magnolia, the system tries to ensure that there are no such vulnerabilities.

Freemarker provides various built-in HTML and JavaScript escaping functions which make it easy to ensure that templates do not suffer from the vulnerabilities mentioned above. In case of any concerns regarding the security, Magnolia Support treats all security related issues with the highest possible urgency and will always try to provide its client with a workaround or temporary fix for the issues should there be any.

HTTP requests

HTTP requests can be accessed either with ctx.getRequest() (in templates) or with info.magnolia.context.WebContext#getRequest (in code).

To prevent XSS exploits, the following HTTP request content is always escaped:

  • Header values.

  • Cookie values.

  • Parameters (names and values).

This policy, introduced with Magnolia 6.2.14, may potentially break code functionality or templates which rely on the original unescaped values.

Developers may unescape header values by using:

  • cmsfn.unescapeXss() (in templates)

  • info.magnolia.util.EscapeUtil#unescapeXss(java.lang.String) (in code)

HTTP headers and security best practices

In this subsection, we provide some ideas how you can improve security through select HTTP headers.

Content Security Policy (CSP) header

Content Security Policy governs what a web browser (or a user agent, in general) is allowed to load as part of a page. Setting a CSP header allows the creator of a page to control what other resources might be loaded by the underlying HTML or JavaScript code. This is a powerful way to mitigate many Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

You should list – as part of the header value – the origin and all the endpoints required for the page to function. However, if you allow any endpoint that is not within your control, you are opening a hole through which an attack might be staged. Therefore, be extra careful here.

See also:

Strict-Transport-Security (STS) header

The STS header informs the browser that a page should only be accessed over the HTTPS protocol. The browser will use this knowledge and set all future requests for the same domain to go through HTTPS automatically, thus preventing the extra round trip that might be required otherwise.

Using HTTPS instead of HTTP enables traffic encryption between the page and the client, preventing anyone from intercepting the communication. Using this header is considered more secure than using the 301 redirect on the server when an attempt for the over-the-HTTP access is made.

See also:

X-Content-Type-Options (XCTO) header

XCTO is a marker header that tells the client that the media types (MIME types) advertized as part of the Content-Type headers should be strictly followed and not changed. This helps avoid MIME Type Sniffing.

See also:

X-Frame-Options (XFO) header

Setting the XFO header tells the browser that the given page is not allowed to be embedded in another page. This header setting helps mitigate stealing content, clickjacking (UI redress attack) or allowing malicious sites to pose as the regular ones and fool the users to not check the URLs closely but think instead that they are on a safe page when they are actually not.

See also:

External security

External security is achieved via servlet container features. The strength of the security depends on the container used to run Magnolia. To improve the security, Magnolia recommends that you run the Apache Web Server or another proxy server in front of the application server.

To minimize the risk of attacks on user accounts on a public instance, limit user accounts to the required number and type.

Disable external access to AdminCentral (URIs starting with ./magnolia) from public IP addresses. Then specify the IP addresses from which users should have permission to log into AdminCentral. See IP and HTTP permissions.

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