Multiple security domains
The WebSphere Security Domains (WSD) provide the flexibility to use different security configurations in WebSphere Application Server. The WSD is also referred to as multiple security domains, or simply, security domains. You can configure different security attributes, such as the UserRegistry, for different applications.
Note: Multiple security domain support was introduced in WebSphere Application Server Version 7.0. You can create different security configurations and assign them to different applications in WebSphere Application Server processes. By creating multiple security domains, you can configure different security attributes for both administrative and user applications within a cell environment. You can configure different applications to use different security configurations by assigning the servers or clusters or service integration buses that host these applications to the security domains. Only users assigned to the administrator role can configure multiple security domains.
WebSphere Security Domains provide two major benefits:
WebSphere Application Server administrative applications can be configured with a different set of security configurations from those for user applications.
They enable one set of applications to have a different set of security configurations from another set of applications.
In previous versions of WebSphere Application Server, all administrative and user applications share most of the security attributes. All administrative and user applications in WebSphere Application Server use global security attributes by default. For example, a user registry defined in global security is used to authenticate a user for every application in the cell.
In this release of WebSphere Application Server, however, you can use multiple security attributes for user applications other than the global security attributes, create a security domain for those security attributes that must differ, and associate them with the servers and clusters that host those user applications. You also can associate a security domain with the cell. All of the user applications in the cell use this security domain if they do not have a domain previously associated with them. However, global security attributes are still required for administrative applications such as the administrative console, naming resources and MBeans.
If you have used server level security in previous releases of WebSphere Application Server, you should now use multiple security domains since they are more flexible and easier to configure.
Relationship between global security and security domains
Global Security applies to all administrative functions and the default security configuration for user applications. Security domains can be used to define a customized configuration for user applications.
You must have a global security configuration defined before you can create security domains. The global security configuration is used by all of the administrative applications such as the administrative console, naming resources, and Mbeans. If no security domains are configured, all of the applications use information from the global security configuration. User applications such as Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), servlets and administrative applications use the same security configuration.
When you create a security domain and associate it with a scope, only the user applications in that scope
use the security attributes that are defined in the security domain. The administrative applications as well
as the naming operations in that scope use the global security configuration. Define the security attributes
at the domain level that need to be different from those at the global level. If the information is common,
the security domain does not need to have the information duplicated in it. Any attributes that are missing
in the domain are obtained from the global configuration. The global security configuration data is stored
security.xml file, which is located in
The following figure provides an example of a security multiple domain where the cell, a server and a cluster are associated with different security domains. As shown in the figure, the user applications in server S1.1 as well as the cluster use security attributes that are defined in Domain2 and Domain3 respectively (since these scopes are associated with these domains). Server S2.2 is not associated with a domain. As a result, the user application in S2.2 uses the domain that is associated with the cell (Domain1) by default . Security attributes that are missing from the domain level are obtained from the global configuration.
The following figure shows the various high-level security attributes that can be defined at the global security configuration and those that can be overridden at the domain level:
Creating security domains
Use the administrative console tasks or scripting commands to create security domains. In the administrative console, access security domains by clicking Security > Security domains. Help is available for each administrative console panel.
When you create a security domain you must supply a unique name for the domain, the security attributes you want to configure for the security domain, and the scopes that need to use the security domain. Once configured, the servers that use the security domain must be restarted. The user applications in those scopes then use the attributes that are defined in the security domain. Any attributes that are not configured at the domain level are obtained from the global security configuration. Administrative applications and naming operations in the scopes always use the security attributes from the global security configuration. You must actively manage these attributes.
Any new security domain attributes must be compatible with those global security attributes that are inherited by the user applications that are assigned to the domain.
Other than for JAAS and custom properties, once global attributes are customized for a domain they are no longer used by user applications.
The security domains panel in the administrative console enables you to assign resources and to select the appropriate security attributes for your domain. The panel displays the key security attributes at the global configuration; you can make the decision to override them at the domain level if necessary. Once you have configured and saved the attributes at the domain level, the summary value on the panel displays the customized value for the domain (tagged with the word "customized" in black text).
A scope (a server, cluster, service integration bus or a cell) can be associated with only one domain. For example, you cannot define two domains that both have the cell-wide scope. Multiple scopes, however, can be defined in the same security domain. For example, a domain can be scoped to Server1 and to Server2 only within the cell.
The assigned scopes section on the security domain panel displays two views: one view that enables you to select and assign scopes to the domain, and another view that enables you to see a list of the currently assigned scopes. For convenience, you also have the flexibility to copy all of the security attributes from an existing security domain or the global configuration into a new security domain, and then modify only those attributes that must be different. You must still associate the scopes to these copied domains.
Scripting commands also provide you with the ability to create, copy and modify security domains. Once you create a domain, you must run the appropriate commands to associate security attributes and scopes to it.
Configuring attributes for security domains
Security attributes that can be configured at the domain level in WebSphere Application Server Version 8.5 are:
Java 2 security
User realm (registry)
Simple and Protected GSS-API Negotiation (SPNEGO) web authentication
RMI/IIOP security (CSIv2)
JAAS logins (Application, System and J2C Authentication Data)
Java Authentication SPI
Authentication mechanism attributes
The security domains panels in the administrative console display all of these security attributes.
Associating scopes to security domains
In WebSphere Application Server Version 8.5, you can associate a security domain at the cell level, the server level, the cluster level and the service integration bus level.
When a security domain is associated with a server that is not part of a cluster, all user applications in that server use the attributes from the security domain. Any missing security attributes are obtained from the global security configuration. If the server is part of a cluster, you can associate the security domain with the cluster but not with the individual members in that cluster. The security behavior then remains consistent across all of the cluster members.
If a server is to be part of a cluster, create a cluster first and associate the security domain to it. You might have associated a domain to a server before it was a member of a cluster. If so, even though the domain is associated with the server directly, the security runtime code does not look at the domain. When a server is a cluster member, the security runtime disregards any security domains associated directly to the server. Remove the server scope from the security domain and associate the cluster scope to it instead.
A security domain can also be associated to the cell. This is usually done when you want to associate all user applications in WebSphere Application Server to a security domain. In this scenario, all of the administrative applications and the naming operations use the global security configuration while all of the user applications use the domain level configuration. If you want to split the security configuration information for administrative and user applications, this is all that is needed.
If you are on a base profile server that has its own security domain defined, which is then federated to a deployment manager, associate the server scope to the security domain and not the cell scope. When you federate that node, the security domain information is propagated to the deployment manager. If the cell scope is associated to it, the network deployment configuration uses this security configuration, which might impact existing applications. During federation, the cell scope is changed to the server scope that is being federated. If the server scope is associated with the security domain, only that server uses the security domain after the federation. Other applications in other servers and clusters are not impacted. However, if this base profile server is registered to the Administrative Agent process you can associate the cell scope to the security domain if you want all of the servers from the base profile to use the same security domain for all of their user applications.
You can have a security domain associated at the cell level and also other security domains associated to various clusters or individual servers (those that are not part of any clusters). In this case, the security runtime first checks if any security domains are associated with the server or a cluster. If there is a security domain associated with the server or a cluster, the security attributes defined in it are used for all of the applications in that server or cluster. Any security attributes missing from this server or cluster domain are obtained from the global security configuration, and not from the domain configuration associated with the cell.
If the server or cluster does not have its own domain defined, the security runtime code uses the security attributes from the domain associated with the cell (if one is defined). Any security attributes missing from the cell domain are inherited from the global security configuration.