Authentication Verifiers

The Authentication Verification Layer is a centralized and extensible way to authenticate remote invocations of Liferay DXP’s API.

The main responsibilities of the authentication verification layer are to

  1. Verify provided credentials using registered AuthVerifier instances

  2. Create portal authorization contexts based on verification results

If no available AuthVerifier can verify request credentials, an authorization context supporting non-authenticated access is created for a guest user. This allows each API to expose only a single API endpoint. In contrast, legacy (prior to 6.2) versions of Liferay DXP exposed two API endpoints for each API: the /api/endpoint URI was for non-authenticated access and the URI /api/secure/endpoint was for authenticated access.

There are built-in AuthVerifier implementations for the most common situations, such as when remote clients use HTTP Basic or HTTP Digest authentication, send credentials in request parameters, send authenticated JSESSIONIDs, or use shared secrets to establish trust. Other AuthVerifier implementations can be deployed as modules containing implementations of the AuthVerifier interface that are registered as services in the OSGi runtime.

Note: The authentication verification layer’s focus is on verifying authentication, not on providing credentials. It does NOT issue tokens, credentials, or display Sign In portlets. Instead, the layer verifies existing credentials and authenticated sessions and is therefore a complement to authentication endpoints. To ensure backwards compatibility, however, the default implementations support requests providing user name and password credentials. Thus, the authentication verification layer stands on the border between authentication and authorization.

Authentication Verification Process Overview

This layer and surrounding processes are provided by the AuthVerifierFilter class that implements the javax.servlet.Filter interface.

Step 1: Verify Request Credentials

The layer uses the chain of responsibility design pattern to support both built-in and third party AuthVerifier implementations. Each AuthVerifier can provide configurations where it specifies mapped URLs and other properties.

Each incoming request is matched against all registered AuthVerifiers to select the final list of AuthVerifiers that is used to process the request. It’s the responsibility of each AuthVerifier to verify the incoming request credentials.

Step 2: Create an Authorization Context

When a request is processed by all matching AuthVerifiers, Liferay DXP creates an authorization context for the resolved user.

This encompasses setting the HttpServletRequest remoteUser to return the resolved user ID setting ThreadLocals to the resolved user.

The resolved user can be the user returned by one of the AuthVerifier instances or a guest user if no instance was able to verify the provided credentials. AuthVerifiers are created by developers, and are processed automatically as long as they’re registered in the OSGi runtime. Each Auth Verifier gets its own configuration in Control PanelSystem SettingsSecurityAPI Authentication. Configuration for Auth Verifiers that ship with the product include

  • Basic Auth Header
  • Digest Authentication
  • HTTP Tunnel Extender
  • Image Request
  • Portal Sessions
  • Request Parameter
  • Tunnel Auth

The following Auth Verifiers are enabled by default and can be used to access remote API out-of-the-box:

  • Basic Auth Header
  • Portal Sessions

Basic Auth Header

This Auth Verifier allows the remote client to authenticate using HTTP Basic Authentication. Configure it by providing URL paths that should be authenticated this way. When Force Basic Authentication field is checked then HTTP Basic Authentication is required.

The default URLs are /api/*,/xmlrpc* for web services. The mapping excludes /api/liferay* to prevent accessing TunnelServlet. For more information please see Tunnel Authentication Verifiers.

Digest Auth Header

This Auth Verifier allows the remote client to authenticate using HTTP Digest Authentication. Configure it by providing URL paths that should be authenticated this way. When Force Digest Authentication field is checked then HTTP Basic Authentication is required.

This Auth Verifier is not enabled by default.

HTTP Tunnel Extender

As Liferay embraced modularity, this extender was written to enable modules to be part of TunnelServlet. It maps TunnelServlet and TunnelingServletAuthVerifier to the module servlet context. Modules with Http-Tunnel in the manifest can make use of the Tunnel Servlet, and can expose the API via /o/_module_/api/liferay/do.

Configure it by setting client IP addresses allowed to tunnel. For more information, please see the properties documentation as well as remote staging.

Note that this is not a recommended way to export remote APIs; it’s far better to expose remote services using JAX-RS or Liferay JSON Web Service technologies.

Image Request Authentication Verifier

When connected to LibreOffice/OpenOffice, the Office process must download images from Liferay DXP to render docs with images. To do this, a JWT Token is created to access the images securely.

Configure this by setting the Hosts Allowed, URLs included, and URLs excluded if necessary.

This Auth Verifier is not enabled by default.

Portal Sessions Auth Verifiers

Enables JavaScript in a browser to access Liferay JSON Web Services using an existing portal session.

In the default configuration, the URLs included field shields access to the legacy JSON remote services layer: /api/json*,/api/jsonws*,/c/portal/json_service*.

Request Parameter Auth Verifiers

For backwards compatibility with RequestParameterAutoLogin you can authenticate and access portal endpoints with credentials inside HTTP request parameters parameterAutoLoginLogin and parameterAutoLoginPassword.

This Auth Verifier is not enabled by default.

Tunnel Authentication Verifiers

TunnelServlet is a legacy remote API endpoint mapped at /api/liferay/do to provide access to the portal remote services. The Tunnel Auth Verifier allows trusted remote clients authenticated access using any user ID provided, on behalf of the user.

An example of a trusted remote client is the Staging remote publishing feature.

Trusted remote clients authenticate using a shared secret stored in the portal property tunneling.servlet.shared.secret. The default value is empty and forbids all access.

Even though the default configuration is enabled by default, access is limited to localhost only. Configure it by setting client IP addresses allowed to tunnel. For more information, please see the properties documentation as well as remote staging.

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