Monday, December 27, 2010

Spring Security 3 - MVC: Using a Simple User-Service Tutorial

In this tutorial we will build a simple Spring MVC 3 application and provide security using Spring Security 3. We will provide a simple configuration. Our users will be authenticated based on Spring's built-in in-memory user-service (that's a lot of dashes). If you need to authenticate based on an existing database and provide a custom provider, please read my other tutorial Spring Security 3 - MVC Integration Tutorial (Part 2) instead.

Note: I suggest reading the following tutorial as well which uses the latest Spring Security 3.1
Spring Security 3.1 - Implement UserDetailsService with Spring Data JPA

What is Spring Security?
Spring Security is a powerful and highly customizable authentication and access-control framework. It is the de-facto standard for securing Spring-based applications

Spring Security is one of the most mature and widely used Spring projects. Founded in 2003 and actively maintained by SpringSource since, today it is used to secure numerous demanding environments including government agencies, military applications and central banks. It is released under an Apache 2.0 license so you can confidently use it in your projects.

Source: Spring Security
We'll build first the Spring MVC part of our application, then add Spring Security.

Let's declare our primary controller first.


This controller declares two mappings:
/main/common - any registered user can access this page
/main/admin - only admins can access this page
Each mapping will resolve to a specific JSP page. The common JSP page is accessible by everyone, while the admin page is accessible only by admins. Right now, everyone has access to these pages because we haven't enabled Spring Security yet.

Here are the JSP pages:



We've finished setting-up the primary controller and the associated JSP views. Now, we add the required XML configurations to enable Spring MVC and Spring Security at the same time.

We start by adding the web.xml:


Notice the url-patterns for the DelegatingFilterProxy and DispatcherServlet. Spring Security is placed at the root-path
Whereas, Spring MVC is placed at a sub-path

We also referenced two important XML configuration files:

spring-security.xml contains configuration related to Spring Security.


The elements are self-documenting. If you're using an IDE, like Eclipse or STS, try pointing your mouse to any of these elements and you will see a short description of the element.

Notice that the bulk of the security configuration is inside the http element. Here's what we observe:

1. We declared the denied page URL in the

2. We provided three URLs with varying permissions. We use Spring Expression Language (SpEL) to specify the role access. For admin only access we specified hasRole('ROLE_ADMIN') and for regular users we use hasRole('ROLE_USER'). To enable SpEL, you need to set use-expressions to true

3. We declared the login URL

4. We declared the login failure URL

5. We declared the URL where the user will be redirected if he logs out

6. We declared the logout URL

7. We declared a default authentication-manager that references an in-memory user-service

8. We declared an in-memory user-service:

This basically declares two users with corresponding passwords and authorities. This user-service is a good way to prototype and test a Spring Security application quickly.

9. We also declared an Md5 password encoder:

When a user enters his password, it's plain string. The password we have in our database (in this case, an in-memory lists) is Md5 encoded. In order for Spring to match the passwords, it's need to encode the plain string to Md5. Once it has been encoded, then it can compare passwords.

Now we need to create a special controller that handles the login and logout requests.


This controller declares two mappings:
/auth/login - shows the login page
/auth/denied - shows the denied access page
Each mapping will resolve to a specific JSP page.

Here are the JSP pages:



That's it. We got a working Spring MVC 3 application that's secured by Spring Security. We've managed to build a simple and quick configuration Spring Security configuration.

To access the common page, enter the following URL:
To access the admin page, enter the following URL:
To login, enter the following URL:
To logout, enter the following URL:
I suggest you read my other tutorial Spring Security 3 - MVC Integration Tutorial (Part 2) for comparison purposes.

The best way to learn further is to try the actual application.

Download the project
You can access the project site at Google's Project Hosting at

You can download the project as a Maven build. Look for the in the Download sections.

You can run the project directly using an embedded server via Maven.
For Tomcat: mvn tomcat:run
For Jetty: mvn jetty:run
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  1. I have uploaded a new tutorial using Spring Security 3.1 (see

    1. Rajib( 4, 2012 at 10:55 PM

      Hi krams, it's definitely a very useful tutorial. This really helped me when I tried the service provider initiated SSO between my sample application and an IDP (e.g. Google).

      However I have a different requirement where I have to do an Identity Provider initiated SSO. I would really appreciate if you can give me the steps for the same.

      The high level requirement is:

      >> I have to first login to the identity provider (e.g. google).

      >> After successful login, I land up on the home page of the IDP (e.g. google), where I have the link to my sample application which is protected by spring-security.

      >> On click of the link it will go to the requested page of the sample application directly, as I am already authenticated by IDP

      >> I have to return few user attributes from identity provider (e.g. google) to the sample application.

  2. can't run it with Spring Security 3.1... I'm getting some strange error at spring-security.xml ( entry):

    Multiple annotations found at this line:
    - The classes from the spring-security-web jar (or one of its dependencies) are not available. You need these to use
    - Configuration problem: The classes from the spring-security-web jar (or one of its dependencies) are not available. You need these to use

  3. @Anonymous, you're following the Spring Security 3.1 tutorial, right? I suggest doing a mvn clean to cleanup your project's workspace. Then try building the project again.

  4. ty, I will try it.

  5. well, I tried to adapt Spring Security 3.1 - Implement UserDetailsService with Spring Data JPA (Part 1) tutorial to this one, but I still get this error at spring-security.xml

    it's probably something obvious, but I'm just starting to play with spring :|

    1. I see the same error in spring-security.xml.

  6. this is kinda helpful

  7. hi,
    Thanks for this nice tutorial.
    while trying to run it from eclipse its showing some error,
    its working fine when run from command prompt. please assist me,
    I m trying to run it in debug mode of eclipse.

  8. Hi,
    I have a questions Kram plz help.

    1. if I have two roles say R1 and R2 and hierarchy says R1>R2 and on a object i granted R1 access permission and R2 denied permission .But the final result coming is denied permission. ? Why not the access Permission as R1>R2 .Am i predicting something Wrong.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi,

    How do I display images using this application? I tried adding security:intercept-url pattern="/*" access="permitAll" in spring- security.xml but still I am unable to see any image.

    Please advise on this ASAP. It would be a great help.

  11. I have a question Krams. I am completely new to Spring , so if this question sounds really dumb to you please let me know. Why have you use 2 controllers here? 1. Main Contriller , 2. Login Logout controller. Can not Main controller handle login, logout and denied page redirection. Thanks for reply.

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