Saturday, July 18, 2009


WebLogic 11g (10.3.1) has support for WS-SecureConversation. What is WS-SecureConversation? According to Wikipedia, not much more than a specification from IBM, MSFT and others. Recently, I've had a couple of customers asking about WS-SecureConversation and how WLS can support it so I wanted to take a little time to discuss what WS-SecureConversation is and explain how to configure WS-SecureConversation on WLS 11g.

WS-SecureConversation enables the creation of a SecurityContext between a web-service producer and consumer. The SecurityContext is essentially a shared key. The SecurityContext is created first, and then the message exchange begins. WS-SecureConversation uses the WS-Trust specification to establish the SecurityContext. One common approach is to use WS-Trust to communicate with a SecurityTokenService (STS). Another is for the consumer and the producer to negotiate the SecurityContext directly. In WebLogic Server, this process is called "bootstrapping". The difference among the policies is just how the two parties establish trust so that they can securely exchange the shared key. Often, the shared key for the security context is used to calculate DerivedKey. Using the concept of DerivedKeys it is common to have one key used for signing the message and another to encrypt the message.

The sample client illustrates how to configure a client application to use WS-SecureConversation. The details on the setting up the server are not obvious, so I'll cover them here.

You'll need a client public/private key-pair and a server public/private key-pair. For demos, I'll just use utils.CertGen and utils.ImportPrivateKey. You'll need both of them in their own java keystore, as well as the certificate in PEM format. Once the SecurityContext is established, messages will be secured with the DerivedKeys, but to establish the SecurityContext, X.509 certificates and either WS-Security or SSL is used to exchange the keys. This is why you need the keys.

In order to configure the server to use DerivedKeys and the SecurityContext, you need to configure a domain level webservice configuration, and set-up the appropriate certificates and credential-providers (DerivedKeys and SecureConversation). This can be very tedious manual process. Fortunately, there is a sample that has a WLST script that does it for you.


Run the script as follows:

java weblogic.WLST weblogic welcome1 localhost 7001 serverkeystore.jks serverkeystorepass serveralias serverkeypassword

You'll also need to create a CertPath provider, mark it as the default builder, and then configure both the client certificate and server certificates as trusted.

Finally, deploy a web-service protected by the bootstrapping policy, for example:

@Policy(uri = "policy:Wssp1.2-2007-Wssc1.3-Bootstrap-Wss1.1.xml")

This will sign the message with the DerivedKeys. If you want the body encrypted as well, use the following policies:

{@Policy(uri = "policy:Wssp1.2-2007-Wssc1.3-Bootstrap-Wss1.1.xml"),
@Policy(uri = "policy:Wssp1.2-2007-EncryptBody.xml")}

You'll need to modify the sample to use your generated stubs. Make sure that you use JAX-RPC web-service stub.

This is probably the first of a few posts of WS-SecureConversation. I'll definitely need to cover the topics of WS-SecureConversation and WS-Trust, WS-SecureConversation and WS-ReliableMessaging. If there are more topics of interest, let me know.

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