Masking Passwords

By default all passwords in Apache ActiveMQ Artemis server's configuration files are in plain text form. This usually poses no security issues as those files should be well protected from unauthorized accessing. However, in some circumstances a user doesn't want to expose its passwords to more eyes than necessary.

Apache ActiveMQ Artemis can be configured to use 'masked' passwords in its configuration files. A masked password is an obscure string representation of a real password. To mask a password a user will use an 'encoder'. The encoder takes in the real password and outputs the masked version. A user can then replace the real password in the configuration files with the new masked password. When Apache ActiveMQ Artemis loads a masked password, it uses a suitable 'decoder' to decode it into real password.

Apache ActiveMQ Artemis provides a default password encoder and decoder. Optionally users can use or implement their own encoder and decoder for masking the passwords.

In general, a masked password can be identified using one of two ways. The first one is the ENC() syntax, i.e. any string value wrapped in ENC() is to be treated as a masked password. For example

ENC(xyz)

The above indicates that the password is masked and the masked value is xyz.

The ENC() syntax is the preferred way of masking a password and is universally supported in every password configuration in Artemis.

The other way is to use a mask-password attribute to tell that a password in a configuration file should be treated as 'masked'. For example:

<mask-password>true</mask-password>
<cluster-password>xyz</cluster-password>

This method is now deprecated and exists only to maintain backward-compatibility. Newer configurations may not support it.

Password Masking in Server Configuration File

General Masking Configuration

Besides supporting the ENC() syntax, the server configuration file (i.e. broker.xml) has a property that defines the default masking behaviors over the entire file scope.

mask-password: this boolean type property indicates if a password should be masked or not. Set it to "true" if you want your passwords masked. The default value is "false".

password-codec: this string type property identifies the name of the class which will be used to decode the masked password within the broker. If not specified then the default org.apache.activemq.artemis.utils.DefaultSensitiveStringCodec will be used.

Specific Masking Behaviors

cluster-password

If it is specified in ENC() syntax it will be treated as masked, or

If mask-password is true the cluster-password will be treated as masked.

Connectors & Acceptors

In broker.xml connector and acceptor configurations sometimes needs to specify passwords. For example, if a user wants to use an acceptor with sslEnabled=true it can specify keyStorePassword and trustStorePassword. Because Acceptors and Connectors are pluggable implementations, each transport will have different password masking needs.

When a connector or acceptor is initialised, Apache ActiveMQ Artemis will add the aforementioned mask-password and password-codec values to the connector or acceptor parameters using the keys activemq.usemaskedpassword and activemq.passwordcodec respectively. The Netty and InVM implementations will use these as needed and any other implementations will have access to these to use if they so wish.

The preferred way, however, is to use the ENC() syntax.

Core Bridges

Core Bridges are configured in the server configuration file and so the masking of its password properties follows the same rules as that of cluster-password. It supports ENC() syntax.

For using mask-password property, the following table summarizes the relations among the above-mentioned properties

mask-password cluster-password acceptor/connector passwords bridge password
absent plain text plain text plain text
false plain text plain text plain text
true masked masked masked

It is recommended that you use the ENC() syntax for new applications/deployments.

Examples

Note: In the following examples if related attributed or properties are absent, it means they are not specified in the configure file.

  • Unmasked

    <cluster-password>bbc</cluster-password>
    

    This indicates the cluster password is a plain text value bbc.

  • Masked 1

    <cluster-password>ENC(xyz)</cluster-password>
    

    This indicates the cluster password is a masked value xyz.

  • Masked 2

    <mask-password>true</mask-password>
    <cluster-password>80cf731af62c290</cluster-password>
    

    This indicates the cluster password is a masked value and Apache ActiveMQ Artemis will use its built-in decoder to decode it. All other passwords in the configuration file, Connectors, Acceptors and Bridges, will also use masked passwords.

Passwords in bootstrap.xml

The broker embeds a web-server for hosting some web applications such as a management console. It is configured in bootstrap.xml as a web component. The web server can be secured using https protocol, and it can be configured with a keystore password and/or truststore password which by default are specified in plain text forms.

To mask these passwords you need to use ENC() syntax. The mask-password boolean is not supported here.

You can also set the passwordCodec attribute if you want to use a password codec other than the default one. For example

<web bind="https://localhost:8443" path="web" 
     keyStorePassword="ENC(-5a2376c61c668aaf)"
     trustStorePassword="ENC(3d617352d12839eb71208edf41d66b34)">
    <app url="activemq-branding" war="activemq-branding.war"/>
</web>

Passwords for the JCA Resource Adapter

Both ra.xml and MDB activation configuration have a password property that can be masked preferably using ENC() syntax.

Alternatively it can use a optional attribute in ra.xml to indicate that a password is masked:

UseMaskedPassword -- If setting to "true" the passwords are masked. Default is false.

There is another property in ra.xml that can specify a codec:

PasswordCodec -- Class name and its parameters for the Decoder used to decode the masked password. Ignored if UseMaskedPassword is false. The format of this property is a full qualified class name optionally followed by key/value pairs. It is the same format as that for JMS Bridges. Example:

Example 1 Using the ENC() syntax:

<config-property>
  <config-property-name>password</config-property-name>
  <config-property-type>String</config-property-type>
  <config-property-value>ENC(xyz)</config-property-value>
</config-property>
<config-property>
  <config-property-name>PasswordCodec</config-property-name>
  <config-property-type>java.lang.String</config-property-type>
  <config-property-value>com.foo.ADecoder;key=helloworld</config-property-value>
</config-property>

Example 2 Using the "UseMaskedPassword" property:

<config-property>
  <config-property-name>UseMaskedPassword</config-property-name>
  <config-property-type>boolean</config-property-type>
  <config-property-value>true</config-property-value>
</config-property>
<config-property>
  <config-property-name>password</config-property-name>
  <config-property-type>String</config-property-type>
  <config-property-value>xyz</config-property-value>
</config-property>
<config-property>
  <config-property-name>PasswordCodec</config-property-name>
  <config-property-type>java.lang.String</config-property-type>
  <config-property-value>com.foo.ADecoder;key=helloworld</config-property-value>
</config-property>

With this configuration, both passwords in ra.xml and all of its MDBs will have to be in masked form.

Passwords in artemis-users.properties

Apache ActiveMQ Artemis's built-in security manager uses plain properties files where the user passwords are specified in a hashed form by default. Note, the passwords are technically hashed rather than masked in this context. The default PropertiesLoginModule will not decode the passwords in artemis-users.properties but will instead hash the input and compare the two hashed values for password verification.

Please use Artemis CLI command to add a password. For example:

    ./artemis user add --username guest --password guest --role admin

This will use the default org.apache.activemq.artemis.utils.DefaultSensitiveStringCodec to perform a "one-way" hash of the password and alter both the artemis-users.properties and artemis-roles.properties files with the specified values.

Passwords in artemis-users.properties are automatically detected as hashed or not by looking for the syntax ENC(<hash>). The mask-password parameter does not need to be true to use hashed passwords here.

Password in login.config

Artemis supports LDAP login modules to be configured in JAAS configuration file (default name is login.config). When connecting to a LDAP server usually you need to supply a connection password in the config file. By default this password is in plain text form.

To mask it you need to configure the passwords in your login module using ENC() syntax. To specify a codec using the following property:

passwordCodec - the password codec class name. (the default codec will be used if it is absent)

For example:

LDAPLoginExternalPasswordCodec {
    org.apache.activemq.artemis.spi.core.security.jaas.LDAPLoginModule required
        debug=true
        initialContextFactory=com.sun.jndi.ldap.LdapCtxFactory
        connectionURL="ldap://localhost:1024"
        connectionUsername="uid=admin,ou=system"
        connectionPassword="ENC(-170b9ef34d79ed12)"
        passwordCodec="org.apache.activemq.artemis.utils.DefaultSensitiveStringCodec;key=helloworld"
        connectionProtocol=s
        authentication=simple
        userBase="ou=system"
        userSearchMatching="(uid={0})"
        userSearchSubtree=false
        roleBase="ou=system"
        roleName=dummyRoleName
        roleSearchMatching="(uid={1})"
        roleSearchSubtree=false
        ;
};

Choosing a decoder for password masking

As described in the previous sections, all password masking requires a decoder. A decoder uses an algorithm to convert a masked password into its original clear text form in order to be used in various security operations. The algorithm used for decoding must match that for encoding. Otherwise the decoding may not be successful.

For user's convenience Apache ActiveMQ Artemis provides a default decoder. However a user can implement their own if they wish.

The Default Decoder

Whenever no decoder is specified in the configuration file, the default decoder is used. The class name for the default decoder is org.apache.activemq.artemis.utils.DefaultSensitiveStringCodec. It has hashing, encoding, and decoding capabilities. It uses java.crypto.Cipher utilities to hash or encode a plaintext password and also to decode a masked string using same algorithm and key. Using this decoder/encoder is pretty straightforward. To get a mask for a password, just run the mask command:

./artemis mask <plaintextPassword>

You'll get something like

result: 32c6f67dae6cd61b0a7ad1702033aa81e6b2a760123f4360

Just copy 32c6f67dae6cd61b0a7ad1702033aa81e6b2a760123f4360 and replace your plaintext password in broker.xml with it.

Using a custom decoder

It is possible to use a custom decoder rather than the built-in one. Simply make sure the decoder is in Apache ActiveMQ Artemis's classpath. The custom decoder can also be service loaded rather than class loaded, if the decoder's service provider is installed in the classpath. Then configure the server to use it as follows:

<password-codec>com.foo.SomeDecoder;key1=value1;key2=value2</password-codec>

If your decoder needs params passed to it you can do this via key/value pairs when configuring. For instance if your decoder needs say a "key-location" parameter, you can define like so:

<password-codec>com.foo.NewDecoder;key-location=/some/url/to/keyfile</password-codec>

Then configure your cluster-password like this:

<cluster-password>ENC(masked_password)</cluster-password>

When Apache ActiveMQ Artemis reads the cluster-password it will initialize the NewDecoder and use it to decode "mask_password". It also process all passwords using the new defined decoder.

Implementing Custom Codecs

To use a different decoder than the built-in one, you either pick one from existing libraries or you implement it yourself. All decoders must implement the org.apache.activemq.artemis.utils.SensitiveDataCodec<T> interface:

public interface SensitiveDataCodec<T>
{
   T decode(Object mask) throws Exception;

   void init(Map<String, String> params);
}

This is a generic type interface but normally for a password you just need String type. So a new decoder would be defined like

public class MyNewDecoder implements SensitiveDataCodec<String>
{
   public String decode(Object mask) throws Exception
   {
      //decode the mask into clear text password
      return "the password";
   }

   public void init(Map<String, String> params)
   {
      //initialization done here. It is called right after the decoder has been created.
   }
}

Last but not least, once you get your own decoder please add it to the classpath otherwise the broker will fail to load it!

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