Authentication Verifiers

Liferay DXP includes a centralized and extensible authentication layer called the authentication verification layer. This layer is mainly used for authenticating 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 is able to verify request credentials, an authorization context supporting non-authenticated access is created for a guest user. This allows each Liferay DXP 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.

Liferay DXP offers built-in AuthVerifier implementations for the most common situations. These include situations where 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 Liferay DXP’s OSGi runtime.

Note: The authentication verification layer’s focus is on verifying authentication, not on providing credentials. The authentication verification layer is NOT responsible for issuing tokens, credentials, or displaying Sign In portlets. Instead, the layer verifies existing credentials and authenticated sessions and is therefore a complement to authentication endpoints. However, to ensure backwards compatibility, the default portal implementations support requests providing username 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 Liferay DXP 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.

For more detailed technical information, please see the AuthVerifiers (not yet written) tutorial.

(Coming Soon)

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