CAS (Central Authentication Service) Single Sign On Authentication

CAS is an authentication system originally created at Yale University. It is a widely used open source single sign-on solution and was the first SSO product to be supported by Liferay DXP. Liferay DXP’s CAS module includes the CAS client, so there’s no need to install it separately.

The CAS Server application requires your server to have a properly configured Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. To generate one yourself, use the keytool utility that comes with the JDK. First generate the key, then export the key into a file. Finally, import the key into your local Java key store. For public, internet-based production environments, you will need to either purchase a signed key from a recognized certificate authority or have your key signed by a recognized certificate authority. For intranets, you should have your IT department pre-configure users’ browsers to accept the certificate so they don’t get warning messages about the certificate.

To generate a key, use the following command:

keytool -genkey -alias tomcat -keypass changeit -keyalg RSA

Instead of the password in the example (changeit), use a password you will remember. If you are not using Tomcat, you may want to use a different alias as well. For first and last names, enter localhost or the host name of your server. It cannot be an IP address.

To export the key to a file, use the following command:

keytool -export -alias tomcat -keypass changeit -file server.cert

Finally, to import the key into your Java key store, use the following command:

keytool -import -alias tomcat -file server.cert -keypass changeit -keystore $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/security/cacerts

If you are on a Windows system, replace $JAVA_HOME above with %JAVA_HOME%. Of course, all of this needs to be done on the system where CAS is running.

Once your CAS server is up and running, configure Liferay DXP to use it. CAS configuration can be applied either at the system scope or at the scope of a portal instance. To configure the CAS SSO module at the system scope, navigate to the Control Panel, click on ConfigurationSystem Settings, click on the Foundation category, and find the CAS Module entry. The values configured there provide the default values for all portal instances. Enable CAS authentication and then modify the URL properties to point to your CAS server.

Enabled: Check this box to enable CAS single sign-on.

Import from LDAP: A user may be authenticated from CAS and not yet exist in Liferay DXP. Select this to automatically import users from LDAP if they do not exist in Liferay DXP. For this to work, LDAP must be enabled.

The rest of the settings are various URLs, with defaults included. Change localhost in the default values to point to your CAS server. When you are finished, click Save. After this, when users click the Sign In link, they will be directed to the CAS server to sign in to Liferay DXP.

For some situations, it might be more convenient to specify the system configuration via files on the disk. To do so, simply create the following file:


The format of this file is the same as any properties file. The key to use for each property that can be configured is shown below. Enter values in the same format as you would when initializing a Java primitive type with a literal value.

Property LabelProperty KeyDescriptionType
EnabledenabledCheck this box to enable CAS SSO authentication.boolean
Import from LDAPimportFromLDAPUsers authenticated from CAS that do not exist in Liferay DXP are imported from LDAP. LDAP must be enabled separately.boolean
Login URLloginURLSet the CAS server login URL.String
Logout on session expirationlogoutOnSessionExpirationIf checked, browsers with expired sessions are redirected to the CAS logout URL.boolean
Logout URLlogoutURLThe CAS server logout URL. Set this if you want Liferay DXP’s logout function to trigger a CAS logoutString
Server NameserverNameThe name of the Liferay DXP instance (e.g., If the provided name includes the protocol (https://, for example) then this will be used together with the path /c/portal/login to construct the URL to which the CAS server will provide tickets. If no scheme is provided, the scheme normally used to access the Liferay DXP login page will be used.String
Server URLserviceURLIf provided, this will be used as the URL to which the CAS server provides tickets. This overrides any URL constructed based on the Server Name as above.String
No Such User Redirect URLnoSuchUserRedirectURLSet the URL to which to redirect the user if the user can authenticate with CAS but cannot be found in Liferay DXP. If import from LDAP is enabled, the user is redirected if the user could not be found or could not be imported from LDAP.String

To override system defaults for a particular portal instance, navigate to the Control Panel, click on ConfigurationInstance Settings, click on Authentication on the right and then on CAS at the top.

Figure 1 shows the CAS tab on the Instance Settings Authentication section before configuration.

Figure 1 shows the CAS tab on the Instance Setting's Authentication section before configuration.


System administrators sometimes think it’s sufficient to link multiple webapps to a single user directory such as LDAP. This certainly goes a long way towards providing a convenient user experience. However, if this approach is taken, the overall security of your users’ credentials is reduced to that of the weakest webapp. Thus, this approach should only be taken if you’re extremely confident in the security of each linked webapp. If you’re not, you should consider an alternative approach to authentication.

CAS authentication is very straight-forward to set up. Using it removes the risk associated with asking users to enter their credentials into multiple web applications.

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