EJBCA - Open Source PKI Certificate Authority
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EJBCA 6.6.1 Enterprise (r24787)


Security is CRITICAL for a CA. Protection of the CA's private key is essential, since compromise of the CA's private key will let anyone issue false certificates, which can then be used to gain access to systems relying on the CA for authentication and other security services.

After realizing this, please read on and take a pragmatic approach to security, suitable for your policy, application and environment.

Firewall ports

To have a functional EJBCA installation there are only two (or three) ports that need to be open to the outside:

  • 8080 - the public HTTP port of you application server, used for clients to access the public web for information, should not be used for enrollment since it's not encrypted.
  • 8442 - the public HTTPS port (server side only SSL) of you application server, used for clients to access the public web for enrollment.
  • 8443 - the SSL protected HTTPS port used to access the Admin GUI of EJBCA. This port requires client certificate for access.

You can choose to have both 8080 and 8442, or only one of them open whichever suits your needs.

Additional ports that you may need to open are SSH, outgoing SMTP, outgoing LDAP, etc. Which additional ports that need to be opened depends on your specific setup and which services you use. You do not need outgoing SMTP if you don't use email notification, for example.

Locally on the host, a number of ports are used in order for your application server to function.

Securing JBoss

JBoss 7

*** Secure Management Interfaces ***

See Securing JBoss 7 Management Interfaces.

You can remove the JMX console completely by removing the following part from standalone.xml (JBoss EAP 6.2):

<subsystem xmlns="urn:jboss:domain:jmx:1.3">

You can remove the welcome pages by setting enable-welcome-root to false (JBoss EAP 6.2):

<virtual-server name="default-host" enable-welcome-root="false"

By default the management web console is only accessible if you configure user access to it, and it is not configured by default.

*** Disable specific HTTP methods ***

EJBCA by default limits the use of PUT|DELETE|TRACE|OPTIONS in it's web applications, but if you are unsure you can further enfoce it.

You can use an Apache front end, or you can use a RewriteValve in standalone.xml

<subsystem xmlns="urn:jboss:domain:web:1.1" default-virtual-server="default-host" native="false">
    <connector name="http" protocol="HTTP/1.1" scheme="http" socket-binding="http"/>
    <virtual-server name="default-host" enable-welcome-root="true">
        <rewrite pattern=".*" substitution="-" flags="F">
            <condition test="%{REQUEST_METHOD}" pattern="^(PUT|DELETE|TRACE|OPTIONS)$" flags="NC" />
*** Content Security Policy ***

CSP is something implemented in browsers to mitigate cross site scripting attacks. See the description over at Mozilla Developer Network, or Content Security Policy Reference.

CSP has been added to EJBCA web interfaces as of ECA-3519.

You can also implement if globally if you use an Apache front end with mod_headers):

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header set Content-Security-Policy "default-src 'self'"

The above apache configuration is just an example and will probably not work well. See the headers returned by EJBCA for a working config.

*** Write protect deploy ***

After deploying EJBCA you can write protect the standalone/deployments directory. In runtime files are only read from this directory, and write protecting it (owned by root, JBoss runs as jboss user) can prevent malicious code to be deployed.

JBoss has a description how to secure a default installation of JBoss. You should read this document before putting your application in production.

Check out: SecureJBoss

You should also make sure all sensitive files can only be read by the JBoss user. These files are for example the server.xml file where the password for the SSL keystores are stored.

Configuring for security

The easiest way to keep the installation secure is to block all default JBOSS ports (1099, 1476, 4444, 8082, 8083) from the outside and only allow traffic to Tomcat ports (8442 and 8443). This is because the public end-user actions can be performed through the public servlets, while administration tasks are performed directly on the beans.

See 'ejbcafirewall.sh' for an example how to configure an Iptables firewall in Linux for protecting EJBCA running on JBoss.

See JBoss documentation for a list of ports used in JBoss and for information about security in JBOSS/EJB and for how to set up SSL with JBOSS.

Setting up SSL

To set upp SSL communication for all HTTP traffic to the server follow the instructions for installing EJBCA, this will set up HTTPS for the admin-GUI automatically.

This will set up an SSL port open for the public at 8442 and an SSL port which require client certificate to access the Admin GUI at 8443.

File permission

The application server should be run as a special user. Files should be protected so the ONLY the user running the application server can access them.

By default JBoss is probably unpacked with read access to all, you should issue:

umask 077
chmod -R go-rwx *

In the JBOSS_HOME directory, to make the files readable only by the jboss user, and make this the default permission for files copied here.

If PKCS12 files are generated for users, the subdirectory ('p12') where they are stored and the generated files should be protected in the same way.

User authentication

Default user authentication for enrollment in EJBCA is done with a one-time password scheme. When a user has enrolled for a certificate his status is set to GENERATED and the password can not be used again to enroll for a new certificate. An administrator must re-set the user's status and preferably set a new password.

If you are exposing your public web pages to a wider audience there are a few functions you can use in order to counter perceived threats such as brute-force attacks.

  • Enable password expiry using the User Password Expire Service. If a user forgets to use his/her one-time password it will be automatically disabled.
  • Use password expiry with the Maximum number of failed login attempts setting when registering users.
  • Increase the number of BCrypt rounds, making password hashing slower. See the setting of ejbca.passwordlogrounds in conf/ejbca.properties.sample.

If implementing other user authentication scenarios you should remember that certificate authentication is stronger than password based authentication (for example LDAP). If EJBCA users authenticate with some other (not one-time) password instead of usual one-time password, a strong authentication mechanism will be built on a weaker one.

Passwords defined when configuring EJBCA.

The configuration files (in $EJBCA_HOME/conf) contain some passwords. It is not considered to be a security risk to declare all these passwords in clear text. Anyone that can log on to the server with EJBCA can, apart from reading these files, also do anything he wants with the CLI of EJBCA. If an unauthorized person can use the CLI, then this is a severe security risk. Access to these passwords is itself not much of a problem, since they have no use outside of the server

It is very important to restrict the access to the server to only a very few trusted individuals.

If you anyway want to do something about these passwords the subsections of this section describes what should be done:

Passwords used by EJBCA taken from property files

Some of the passwords are used directly by EJBCA code. All these passwords may be configured encrypted in the same way as PINs used for auto activation could be encrypted.

List of these passwords in ejbca.properites :

List of these passwords in databaseprotection.properties :

Passwords used by the application server

Some of the passwords are not used by EJBCA but by the application server. If these passwords should be encrypted, it must be in a way so that they can be decrypted by the application server. You have to consult the documentation of the application server to find out how to encrypt them (example: datasource password in JBoss).

These passwords are:
mail.password in mail.properties
database.password in database.properties

Passwords prompted for by 'ant install'

If you don't define superadmin.password in web.properties, then 'ant install' will prompt for it. Since this password does not has to be known by EJBCA after the super admin token has been created, it will not exist in any file after the installation.

The passwords java.trustpassword and httpsserver.password, also in web.properties, are used to generate keystore files at 'ant install'. If either of these passwords are not predefined, then they will be prompted for during deploy and install.

If you let 'ant' prompt for these passwords you must set them (encrypted, if possible) in the application server configuration. The file for the application server is copied to the application server at 'ant web-configure' (e.g. jboss-5.1.0.GA/server/default/deploy/jbossweb.sar/server.xml) You must then manually substitute the strings 'changeThisToThePassword' in the configuration file with clear text or possible encrypted (application server specific) passwords.

Database Integrity Protection

Database integrity protection consists of an additional column in all protected tables, "rowProtection".

In order to be flexible, versions and keyid are embedded in the rowProtection line. Versions allow the tables themselves to be modified safely because the entity class can create "version 2" of the protect string with new fields, but still verify "version 1" and other legacy versions rows without the additional field. ProtectData can update the algorithm used, etc. by iterating the version number. The protection key can be changed because the user defines the keyid of the crypto token and always verifies using a specific keyid. The keyids are specified in configuration and multiple keyids can be active at any moment.


Database integrity protection should be configured before EJBCA is installed and used the first time, otherwise unprotected data will be inserted into the database; once the system is configured for database protection, using that data will fail.

Database protection is configured in the file:



  • One limitation on the application using this protection scheme is that we can now not do bulk updates using a JPQ query with UPDATE where xyz. This is because the @Pre/Post events are not triggered for JPA beans when doing that. This is a limitation that can be severe in very large installations;
  • We can not do direct database updates, this is of course the whole idea of the database protection, but it is also a limitation nonetheless;
  • When using an HSM for the protection, only digital signature protection is currently available, not HMAC.

Integrity Protected Security Audit

The IntegrityProtectedDevice security audit implementation stores the log entries to the database and relies on the Database Integrity Protection in EJBCA for protecting the authenticity of the log events. Each log event is given an identifier consisting of a "nodeId" and a "sequenceNumber" that is part of the integrity protected data. The nodeId is configurable and must be unique for each JVM in a cluster with shared database access. The "sequenceNumber" is unique per nodeId and starts with 0. The sequenceNumber for a node (JVM) is read when the first log entry is written to this device and then kept in memory for duration of the JVM's lifetime.

The security of this implementation relies on:

  • Database integrity protection token.
  • The sequence number in memory for each node (JVM).

Using a sequence number will prevent that a single log entry is removed without detection being possible. Keeping the sequence number in the JVM will prevent that all log entries up to a previous point in time is removed without detection being possible.

This implementation can not detect:

  • Removal of all the latest log entries for a node up to a previous point in time if the node's JVM is not running.
  • Forged log entries if the database integrity protection token is compromised.

The motivation for this design is that each node (JVM) does not have to wait for other nodes in a (shared database only) cluster. Internally in each JVM the only locking between threads happens when the sequence number is atomically updated. This will allow horizontal scaling to a very high degree without any JVM-to-JVM communication when the shared database supports row-locking.

When using this implementation the integrity of each fetched log entry is always validated when loaded from the database, but full validation with checks for missing sequenceNumbers are not performed.

Configuration of integrity protected log device is in the files:


It is possible to verify a whole table with the Local Database CLI tool. If any row in the table can't be verified the tool will show it. For the AuditRecordData table it will also be checked with the sequence number that no row is missing.

*** Repairing sequence gaps ***

The audit log sequence number per node is a counter. Whenever there is a need to write an audit log the counter is fetched and incremented (as an atomic operation). If the write to the database fails:

  • the counter will not be decreased (since multiple threads might be operating on it there is no way of knowing what the missing entry is)
  • there will be a sequence gap in the log
This could also happen in the case where an attacker has removed certain entries in the database to cover his or her tracks. Since failing to write audit log to the database will roll back the transaction that initiated the security event, the security event will not be performed. Most likely you could correlate this with server logs from the time this happen to find that the database was unavailable for technical reasons. For example a MariaDB+Galera cluster that is in the process of reforming a quorum could experience a few failed transactions before being operational again.

There is currently no user friendly way to "repair" such sequence, but it should rather be document why this happened (or rather that the cause was technical and not malicious).

A non-user friendly way to repair sequence gaps follows this principle:

  • In a copy of the database, delete all records except 1 (or as many as you have holes)
  • update the record(s), using sql to change sequenceNumber to the ones missing, and primaryKey to something unique
  • run ejbca-db-cli export from the copy database. This will result in a dump with only these records, metching the holes in the original database
  • run ejbca-db-cli import to import this dump in the original database. This will insert the missing sequenceNumbers, using databaseprotection as configured in your ejbca-db-cli

Datasource Passwords

Before venturing into this chapter, be aware that it increases complexity of management of your system. You should consider if this really increase the security of your system and if it is required from policy.

If you do not like to have your DataSource password available in clear text in EjbcaDS.xml, there is an article in the JBoss Wiki about encrypting them:

There is another explanation for JBoss 7 at Stackoverflow.


  • Run the following script to generate an encrypted encoded password (PLACEHOLDER is your password):
# java -cp /opt/jboss/modules/system/layers/base/org/picketbox/main/picketbox-4.1.1.Final-redhat-1.jar:/opt/jboss/modules/system/layers/base/org/jboss/logging/main/jboss-logging-3.1.4.GA-redhat-2.jar:$CLASSPATH org.picketbox.datasource.security.SecureIdentityLoginModule PLACEHOLDER
  • Copy the encoded password. Paste it into the standalone.xml configuration file.
$ vim /opt/jboss/standalone/configuration/standalone.xml

Paste the following segment into the security-domains segment (where PLACEHOLDER_ENC is the encoded password you got from the above command):

<security-domain name="EjbcaDsEncryptedPassword">
                  <login-module code="SecureIdentity" flag="required">
                        <module-option name="username" value="ejbca"/>
                        <module-option name="password" value="PLACEHOLDER_ENC"/>

Look for the EjbcaDS datasource segment and replace the security segment (where PLACEHOLDER is your old clear text database password):


with the following value:


You can also look into using the vault.sh script, which you can find on the Internet.

Database privileges

During the installation process of EJBCA, JBoss creates all the required database tables. To do this the EJBCA-database user has to have CREATE TABLE privileges. During upgrades EJCBA needs CREATE and ALTER TABLE privileges. (SELECT, UPDATE, INSERT and DELETE privileges are also required.)

After the installation during normal operations only regular SELECT, UPDATE, INSERT and DELETE commands are needed. The table LogEntryData will only be used with SELECT and INSERT.

Instead of changing the privileges of the EJBCA-user, it's recommended to have two different users "ejbca" and "ejbca-admin". For regular operations "ejbca" is used, but for the installation and upgrades, EJBCA is re-deployed with "ejbca-admin" configured in conf/database.properties.

There is a script, doc/howto/mysql-privileges.sh that creates an SQL script that can be run to limit privileges on a MySQL database. The script will set restricted privileges for every table in the EJBCA database. See the script for in-line documentation.

SSL connections in MariaDB

MariaDB have a guide regarding usage of SSL connection for the database connection.

Other precautions

Switching to production mode

Switching to production mode (default) by setting ejbca.productionmode in conf/ejbca.properties will prevent ant from starting JUnit tests and deploying the CA build on an OCSP responder and vice versa.

System accounting in Linux

See your distribution for details about their package, below are general links.

Denial of Service

Due too large data packages

There is no way to limit the datapackages reaching JBoss through a HTTP request from within JBoss. This is due to the way the TCP protocol works. The best way to avoid this kind of DOS attacks is to use a firewall or proxy that can limit the size of request and configure it properly.