AndreaNobili AndreaNobili - 3 months ago 9
Java Question

Difference between @Secured vs @RolesAllowed in Spring? And the concept of Role Based Security?

I am studying Spring Security and I have the following doubts related the difference between the use of the @Secured annotation and the @RolesAllowed annotation.

I know that both have to been used at method level, on my study material I found the followings 2 examples:


  • @RolesAllowed annotation:

    import javax.annotation.security.RolesAllowed;
    public class ItemManager {
    @RolesAllowed("ROLE_MEMBER")
    public Item findItem(long itemNumber) {
    ...
    }
    }

  • @Secured annotation:

    import org.springframework.security.annotation.Secured;
    public class ItemManager {
    @Secured("ROLE_MEMBER")
    public Item findItem(long itemNumber) {
    ...
    }
    }



It seems to me that these 2 annotations works in the same way. What are the differences? What am I missing?

Another doubt that I have is: what exactly represent the ROLE_MEMBER?

I think that this is something like role based security, so it could mean something like: only if the user is a member it could access to the annoted resource (is it correct?). But where and how is definied the fact that the user have setted this role (it is a member)? How exactly works?

Tnx

Answer

@Secured and @RolesAllowed are the same. They do the same operation in Spring.

But

  • @RolesAllowed - Standard annotation of Java.

    Java has defined Java Specification Request, basically change requests for the Java language, libraries and other components. For the development of annotations, they have provided JSR 250. @RolesAllowed is included in it. This link contains further info in JSR 250

  • @Secured - Spring security annotation

ROLE_MEMBER is the role which is set to the security user details.

Refer this example from my current project. Here I'm using the user data object and mapping the roles given to the user to the security user details.

public class CustomUserDetails implements UserDetails {
...
...
... 

    @Override
    public Collection<? extends GrantedAuthority> getAuthorities() {
        Collection<GrantedAuthority> grantedAuthorities = new ArrayList<GrantedAuthority>();
        for (Role role : this.user.getRoles()){
            grantedAuthorities.add(new SimpleGrantedAuthority(role.getRole()));
        }
        return grantedAuthorities;
    }
}

These roles are then set for the security approvals using the @Secured or @RolesAllowed or @PreAuthorize("hasRole('ROLE_USER')") for the methods.

By design it's good to put the security in the Service layer. So when I'm securing my service actions, I check for the roles, not for the users.

This way, we can concentrate on the business logic and the security for the business logic via small security units called roles.

Then I assign the roles to the user. Users can have multiple roles. So you have to see the relationship here. Users given the roles. And roles given the access to the business logic. Users are given the access to the business logic via the roles. This concept is called, Role Based Access Control.

And in complex situations we can also manage hierarchical roles. Where one role has many other roles. But int he userDetails, we have to flat the role hierarchy and provide the list of roles to the Spring framework to process.

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