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Java Security Tutorial 2022-A Guide To Create SSL Connection

Java Security Tutorial 2022-A Guide To Create SSL ConnectionIn this tutorial, we’ll discuss about SSL (Secured Socket Layer) and investigate the different ways to implement it in Java Applications. If you are looking to secure your Java applications, here is everything you need to know about establishing a secure SSL connection for your applications. In this article ‘Java Security Tutorial 2022-A Guide to Create SSL Connection’, we are going to discuss about how to secure your Java Applications with SSL in detail.

Why are Secure SSL Connections so Important?

The Java programming language offers type-safe and automatic garbage collection features, improving security. It inherently provides secure class loading and verification mechanism, which only allows the execution of legitimate Java code. The Java security architecture includes different APIs, tools, encryption algorithms, and protocols. Unfortunately, despite such extensive security protocols and pre-built features, the Java ecosystem has been exposed to several vulnerabilities.

For example, Log4J is one of the most significant vulnerabilities in Java versions. However, cryptographic and public critical infrastructure (PKI) provides a secure basis for developing applications with Java. Specifically, SSL certificates can help your apps avoid cyber attacks like man-in-the-middle attacks, SQL injections, and more.

That is why making a secure SSL connection for your applications is essential.  Even if you want to secure multiple subdomains, SSL certificates are the best choice. For example, you can get a low cost or cheap SSL wildcard certificate and install it to secure multiple sub-domains for the java app.

Therefore, here in this article ‘Java Security Tutorial 2022-A Guide to Create SSL Connection’, we will discuss how to make a secure SSL connection for your Java applications.

First, let’s understand what are the vulnerabilities that affects Java Applications.

Top Java Vulnerabilities that you need to Secure the Applications

Java has a strict, concise, and static development paradigm that is popular among developers. However, it is essential to make apps secure through SSL connections. Before you employ security measures, understanding Java-based vulnerabilities and attacks are critical.

Cross-site Scripting

One of the most potent attacks that Java apps can face is persistent cross-site scripting (XSS). It is stored when an attacker injects a corrupted script into the web app content. However, what makes it a more dangerous vulnerability is its autonomous function. It does not require user interaction to execute the script.

Persistent XSS does not need user interaction for execution, but injection occurs when a customer interacts with the app. For example, users post on social media platforms, and attackers use it to inject malicious scripts.

SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection vulnerabilities occur when malicious code is injected into database query strings or web form input fields. This code then has access to the data in your database and can be used to steal information or commit other attacks.

In addition, Java vulnerabilities allow attackers to execute arbitrary commands as the system user remotely. By exploiting vulnerabilities in this coding language, attackers can take complete control of a computer or network-connected device.

Injection Flaws

Attackers can inject malicious code into web applications or Java applets, which the application user or applet can execute. This vulnerability is often exploited in phishing attacks, where hackers exploit vulnerabilities in websites to obtain users’ personal information (such as passwords).

Broken Authentication and Session Management

Websites that use cookies to track a user’s login credentials sessions across multiple websites may leak this data if those cookies are stolen or compromised by attackers. Session fixation attacks are also possible when an attacker captures a user’s session ID and uses this to hijack subsequent sessions.

Security Misconfiguration

Poorly configured web applications or Java applets can open them to attack through vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS) or Broken Authentication and Session Management (BASM). In particular, it is crucial not to store passwords in clear text or reuse the same password across multiple websites.

Insufficient Guarding of Critical Infrastructure Data

Many attacks against online systems exploit security weaknesses in code that accesses or controls critical infrastructure data, such as control systems or data access applications. Additionally, many of these attacks are facilitated through vulnerabilities in web-based management interfaces or weak passwords.

Insecure Communications

Poorly designed network protocols and cabled infrastructure can open networks to attacks, such as denial of service (DDoS) attacks or hijacking web traffic by malicious insiders.

Insufficient Security Checks on Untrusted Input

Untrusted inputs, such as unauthenticated user input or data entered into unauthorized forms on websites, can lead to attacker code being executed within the context of a vulnerable application or applet.

Broken Access Controls

Insufficiently protected resources or improperly managed access rights can allow unauthorized users to modify, damage, or destroy data or confidential information.

Misconfigured Components

Poorly configured or untested software can introduce vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. For example, unpatched Java versions are often targeted in attacks due to their popularity on web servers and web applications.

As of now, we knew some top vulnerabilities. Now it’s time to understand how SSL certificates can help you avoid them.

How do SSL Certifications help Authenticate Java Applications?

A certificate authority issues SSL certificates. Every browser has a list of valid root certificates. Browsers can check for SSL compatibility by matching the certificate of each website or web app with the ones on the list.

Browsers ask for information from the sites and apps regarding certification. CAs provide the data, and browsers check if the root certificate is valid. If the root certificate does not match the list browser will not allow Java-based websites or web apps to access the server. Therefore, there is no denying that you need an SSL certificate for your Java apps. Nevertheless, before you install it, here is how you can get one.

SSL Certification Process

SSL certification process begins by generating a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). SSL certificates use asymmetric encryptions where there are two sets of security pairs. Therefore, if you want an SSL certificate for your Java apps, you first need to generate a security key paired with the CSR.

After CSR generation, you must submit it to a CA with your credentials. CA will verify the credentials and issue the certificate for your Java app. Once you receive the certificate, you must download and install it to create an SSL connection.

Let’s understand how to create an SSL connection for your Java application.

Top Ways to Create the SSL connection for your Java Application

There are several ways to create an SSL connection for your Java application. But before we discuss some of the best ways to make an SSL connection, let’s understand some prerequisites.

If you want to install and configure the secure connection, the first prerequisite is the SSL HTTPS connector enabled in the app server.  The connector may not be enabled if you use a different app server than the Java app. So, you need to access the documentation of that server to enable the SSL connector.

Here are some of the top issues that you need to address to enable SSL connector,

1) Check for a connector element for an SSL connector

2) Check for valid security Keystore and certificate files

3) Also, check if the Keystore file and password are specified in the server deployment descriptor

Now that we know, the prerequisites let us discuss some of the top ways to secure SSL connections. The most popular way is to use the java.net package and its SSL () method. This method accepts a server name, private key file name, certificate chain file name, and password as arguments.

Use Java APIs

You can also create an SSL connection using javax.net.* packages and Jeremie Berthaud’s j Connector Toolkit (jCT). The jCT provides a variety of convenient methods for creating self-signed or certificate-based connections that work with all major web browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

Here is how you can create a connection using the Java packages,

1) Use the java.net.ssl package to create a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection between your application and a server certificate authority (CA).

2) Use java. security package to configure your application to use SSL when communicating with other applications or websites over HTTPS connections

3) Using HTTPS protocol, use the java.net.https package to create a secure connection between your application and a web server.

4) Use the keytool certificate generation tool to create a self-signed certificate for your application and store it in a secure location.

5) Use the javax.net.ssl package to create a secure connection between your application and a secured server.

6) Using HTTPS protocol, use the java.net.httpsclient package to provide secure connection support for web browser clients.

7) Use the java.net.https connection pooling feature of Java SE 8 or later to create a series of temporary connections to an HTTPS server. Pool them together for improved performance.

Apart from the Java packages, you can use an application’s deployment descriptor to create a secure SSL connection.

Specify Secure Connection in the Application’s Deployment Descriptor

You need to specify the requirements where secured resources are received only over an SSL connection. Further, you need to specify a data constraint in the app deployment descriptor. Here is an example of an app deployment descriptor with a specified secure SSL connection.

<security-constraint>
    <web-resource-collection>
        <web-resource-name>view dept data</web-resource-name>
        <url-pattern>/hr/employee/*</url-pattern>
        <http-method>GET</http-method>
        <http-method>POST</http-method>
    </web-resource-collection>

    <auth-constraint>
        <role-name>DEPT_ADMIN</role-name>
    </auth-constraint>

    <user-data-constraint>
        <transport-guarantee>CONFIDENTIAL</transport-guarantee>
    </user-data-constraint>
</security-constraint>

The specification of user data constraint is key to ensuring that all the URL patterns and HTTP methods are received in a secure transport layer connection. You need to specify the  <user-data-constraint> in the deployment descriptor by specifying the following definitions,

1) Specify CONFIDENTIAL when the app needs data transmission to be anonymous from hackers or other entities

2) Specify INTEGRAL when an app requires that the data exchanged between the client and server remains immutable

3) Specify NONE to indicate that only constrained requests need to be accepted by containers for every connection.

The user data constraint specification process is critical if you use a basic and form-based authentication approach. In such an authentication approach, third parties can access the data exchanged between the client and server. However, by specifying the data constraint, you block access to third parties by specifying the data constraint.

Apart from the data constraint specifications, there are security-based APIs that Java provides to establish secure connections, like,

1) Java Secured-Socket Extension (JSSE)

2) Java Cryptography Architecture (JCA)

You can use these APIs and establish secure SSL connections. But first, let’s discuss how to use them.

Use Java Secured-Socket Extension (JSSE) for SSL connection

JSSE uses a Factory design pattern to establish a secure SSL connection. Javax.net.sssl.SSLSocketFactory helps create SSLSocket objects. There are several groups of APIs within this class,

The first group includes a single static getDefault() method, which helps retrieve the default instance to create SSLSocket instances. The second group contains five methods that also help in creating SSLSocket instances, like,

  • Socket createSocket(String host, int port)
  • Socket createSocket(String host, int port, InetAddress clientHost, int clientPort)
  • Socket createSocket(InetAddress host, int port)
  • Socket createSocket(InetAddress host, int port, InetAddress clientHost, int clientPort)
  • Socket createSocket(Socket socket, String host, int port, boolean autoClose)

Further SSLsocketFactory class extends SSLSocket and adds an extra layer of security for the underlying network protocol. For example, you can use the SSLSocket to construct an SSL connection at a specific port.

Similarly, SSLServerSocketFactory is another class that helps in establishing SSL connections. Here is an example of how to use all these classes to create a secured SSL connection,

String host = getHost(...);

Integer port = getPort(...);

SSLSocketFactory sslsocketfactory = SSLSocketFactory.getDefault();

SSLSocket sslsocket = (SSLSocket) sslsocketfactory.createSocket(host, port);

InputStream in = sslsocket.getInputStream();

OutputStream out = sslsocket.getOutputStream();

out.write(1);

while (in.available() > 0) {

    System.out.print(in.read());

}

System.out.println("Secured connection performed successfully");

Java Cryptography Architecture (JCA)

The Java platform emphasizes app security, including language safety, PKI, multi-factor authentication, and access control. In addition, JCA offers a “provider” architecture and a set of APIs. You can leverage these APIs for certificate validation, encryptions, key generation, and management.

It is essential when you are looking to install SSL certificate for more than one app. Now, if you want multiple secure subdomains and validate secure connections, you may get a SSL Certificate from cheapsslcouponcode.com. Further, you can use the JCA to validate secure connections for all the subdomains.

JCA offers a set of security APIs that allow users to determine which providers are installed and what services they support. As a result, providers have all the information needed to implement cryptographic algorithms. In other words, JCA ensures a secure SSL connection for your applications.

Conclusion

The Java platform has an ecosystem of several classes, tools, and APIs for security purposes. A higher emphasis on security makes Java preferable for many businesses. First, however, it is essential to understand that secure SSL connections are crucial to data security in Java applications. Here in our article ‘Java Security Tutorial 2022-A Guide to Create SSL Connection’, we have discussed many ways to establish secure SSL connections.

If you are looking for how to secure a Spring Boot application, kindly visit our series of articles on Spring Boot Security Tutorials.

 

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