EJBCA Security

Security is critical for a CA and protection of the CA's private key is essential. Compromising the CA's private key allows anyone issue false certificates, which can then be used to gain access to systems relying on the CA for authentication and other security services.

Study the following sections and take a pragmatic approach to security, suitable for your policy, application and environment:

Firewall Ports

Only a few ports need to be open to the outside to allow a functional EJBCA installation:


Public HTTP port of your application server, used for clients to access the public web for information. Not to be used for enrollment since it's not encrypted.


Public HTTPS port (server side only SSL) of your application server, used for clients to access the public web for enrollment.


SSL protected HTTPS port used to access the EJBCA Admin GUI. 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, depending on your specific setup and services used. You do not need outgoing SMTP if you do not 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

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.

For an example on how to configure an IPTables firewall in Linux for protecting EJBCA running on JBoss, see ejbcafirewall.sh.

For information on ports used in JBoss and for information on how to set up SSL with JBOSS, see documentation on jboss.org.

Securing JBoss 7 Management Interfaces

In addition to the services made available by the running application server or servers, JBoss AS 7 also makes available two management interfaces to allow remote clients to connect for the purpose of managing the running JBoss AS 7 installation. For information on how these interfaces are used and how they can be secured, refer to the jboss.org documentation on Securing the Management Interfaces.

To remove the JMX console completely, remove the following part from standalone.xml (JBoss EAP 6.2):

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

To remove the welcome pages, set 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 its web applications, but if you are unsure you can further enforce it.

You can use an Apache front-end, or you can use a RewriteValve in standalone.xml according to the following example:

<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 implemented in browsers to mitigate cross site scripting attacks. For more information, refer to Mozilla Developer Network and Content Security Policy Reference.

CSP has been added to EJBCA Web Interfaces as of ECA-3519 in EJBCA 6.2.0.

To implement CSP 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 configuration.

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.

For more information on how to secure a default installation of JBoss, refer to the JBoss documentation on Securing JBoss Application Server.

You should also ensure that sensitive files (like the server.xml file storing password for the SSL keystores) only can be read by the JBoss user.

Setting up SSL

To set up 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.

JBoss is most likely by default unpacked with read access to all. To make the files readable only by the JBoss user, run the following in the JBOSS_HOME directory to also make this the default permission for files copied to this location:

umask 077
chmod -R go-rwx *

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 cannot 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, you can use the following functions 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. For more information, see User Password Expire Service in Services.

  • Use password expiry with the Maximum number of failed login attempts setting when registering users. For more information, see End Entity Profiles.

  • 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 (except for password.encryption.key which can be used to decrypt encrypted passwords stored elsewhere, for example, external database server).

It is very important to restrict the access to the server to only a very few trusted individuals and promote separation of duties and the principle of least privilege. For example, a DBA should not have access to the application server and will thus (if password.encryption.key has been customized in the application server) not be able to decrypt passwords stored in the database he has access to.

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

Passwords used by EJBCA taken from property files

Some of the passwords are used directly by the EJBCA code. All these passwords may be configured encrypted in the same way as PINs used for auto activation could be encrypted (except for password.encryption.key which is itself used for encrypting the other passwords). For more information, see Auto-activation of Crypto Tokens in Hardware Security Modules (HSM).

List of these passwords across several configuration files:

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 do not define superadmin.password in web.properties, then ant install will prompt for it. Since this password does not have 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 rowProtection column in all protected tables.

For flexibility, 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: conf/databaseprotection.properties.


  • 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 cannot 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 cannot 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:


Using the Local Database CLI tool, you can verify a whole table and the tool indicates if a row in the table cannot be verified. For the AuditRecordData table. it will also be checked with the sequence number that no row is missing. For more information on the Local Database CLI tool, see Command Line Interfaces.

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 if 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 be documented why it 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, matching 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

External Log Signing

Signing logs as they are being archived (rotated) can be done in several ways, for example:

  • Logs are sent to syslog and the syslog rotation can sign files when they are rotated, using OpenSSL or a Time Stamp Server (TSA).

  • Logs are stored by JBoss, a special log4j appender can be used to sign files when they are rotated, using a time stamp server (TSA).

Log Signing using Logrotate and OpenSSL

Save and enable the below logrotate configuration for syslog, normally stored as the file syslog in the directory /etc/logrotate.d. If a previous syslog configuration exists, remove it and merge changes if required. Syslog is normally not rotated in most Linux distributions.

After enabling the configuration, ensure that logrotate is run as often as you require. Normally logrotate is run every night and to run more frequently for syslog, add a crontab entry to run logrotate hourly for example. Call logrotate with the specified configuration file logrotate syslog.conf.

/var/log/syslog {
rotate 5
/usr/bin/killall -HUP syslogd
FILE="$LOGFILE.`date +%F.%H:%M:%S`.log"

Note that when stored in logrotate.d, the syslog configuration will be called when logrotate is normally run. qc1.priv is the private key used for signing the logfile.

A simple shell script below for signing and verifying using OpenSSL, as well as to convert a pkcs12 file to the public key and private key files that OpenSSL uses.

To verify, you can issue the command: log-sign.sh verify qc1.pub logfile.log lofile.log.sign.

# Openssl command for signing and verifying
#openssl dgst -sign superadmin.key -sha1 test.txt > test.txt.sign
#openssl dgst -verify superadmin.pubkey -signature test.txt.sign -sha1 test.txt
# Openssl command to convert a p12 file to cert and key files in pem
# First cert:
#openssl pkcs12 -in qc1.p12 -nodes -nokeys -clcerts -out qc1.pem
# Then public key
#openssl x509 -in qc1.pem -pubkey -noout > qc1.pub
# Then private key:
#openssl pkcs12 -in qc1.p12 -nodes -nocerts -out qc1.priv
SCRIPTNAME=`basename $0`
DATE=`date +"%Y-%m-%d"`
if [ "$OPTION" = "sign" ]; then
exit 0
elif [ "$OPTION" = "verify" ]; then
$OPENSSL dgst -verify $PUBLICKEY -signature $SIGNATUREFILE -sha1 $FILE
exit 0
echo "Usage:"
echo "To sign files you have to edit the script and add the files you want signed."
echo "$SCRIPTNAME sign "
echo "$SCRIPTNAME verify "
exit 0

Log Signing using Logrotate and TSA

The same approach is taken for timestamping using a Time Stamp Authority (TSA) server instead of using OpenSSL. The following example uses the Client CLI SignClient and TSA from SignServer.

The new logrotate configuration:

/var/log/syslog {
rotate 5
/usr/bin/killall -HUP syslogd
FILE="$LOGFILE.`date +%F.%H:%M:%S`.log"
$TSACLIENTDIR/bin/signclient timestamp -url "" -infile $FILE -outrep $SIGNATUREFILE -base64

Replace the ip-address and port ( with the ip and port of your actual TSA and the new shell script for verification (or manual signing), log-sign-tsa.sh:

SCRIPTNAME=`basename $0`
DATE=`date +"%Y-%m-%d"`
if [ "$OPTION" = "sign" ]; then
$TSACLIENTDIR/bin/signclient timestamp -url $TSAURL -infile $FILE -outrep $SIGNATUREFILE -base64
exit 0
elif [ "$OPTION" = "verify" ]; then
$TSACLIENTDIR/bin/signclient timestamp -verify -inrep $SIGNATUREFILE -signerfile $PUBLICKEY
sha1sum $FILE
exit 0
echo "Usage:"
echo "To sign files you have to edit the script and add the files you want signed"
echo "$SCRIPTNAME sign"
echo "$SCRIPTNAME verify"
exit 0

When verifying the time stamp token, the sha1 hash from the time stamp token (signed) and the calculated sha1 hash of the file is printed. You must compare them manually.

Log signing using external script in JBoss


There is an implementation that runs an external script when JBoss log files are rolled-over. This can be every hour for example.

  • Stop JBoss

  • Issue the command: ant jbosslogsigning

  • Copy dist/ejbcalogsigning.jar to jboss.home/standalone/lib

  • Configure jboss.home/server/default/conf/log4j.xml, according to below

  • Create the script that is to be run (see example below)

  • Start JBoss

To use the ScriptrunningDailyRollingFileAppender, replace the logging section in standalone.xml with something like the following:

<!-- A time/date based rolling appender that signs rolled over log files using TSA -->
<appender name="FILE" class="org.ejbca.appserver.jboss.ScriptrunningDailyRollingFileAppender">
<errorHandler class="org.jboss.logging.util.OnlyOnceErrorHandler"/>
<param name="File" value="${jboss.server.log.dir}/server.log"/>
<param name="Append" value="false"/>
<param name="Script" value="/home/jboss/log-sign-tsa-jboss.sh"/>
<!-- Rollover at midnight each day -->
<param name="DatePattern" value="'.'yyyy-MM-dd"/>
<!-- Rollover at the top of each hour
<param name="DatePattern" value="'.'yyyy-MM-dd-HH"/>
<!-- Rollover at the beginning of every minute
<param name="DatePattern" value="'.'yyyy-MM-dd-HH-mm"/>
<layout class="org.apache.log4j.PatternLayout">
<!-- The default pattern: Date Priority [Category] Message\n -->
<param name="ConversionPattern" value="%d %-5p [%c] %m%n"/>
<!-- The full pattern: Date MS Priority [Category] (Thread:NDC) Message\n
<param name="ConversionPattern" value="%d %-5r %-5p [%c] (%t:%x) %m"/>

Where /opt/log-sign-tsa-jboss.sh is your script that should be run to do the signing:

SCRIPTNAME=`basename $0`FILE="$1"
$TSACLIENTDIR/bin/signclient timestamp -url $TSAURL -infile $FILE -outfile $SIGNATUREFILE
exit 0

You can verify time stamps with a time stamp client, for example the one that comes with SignServer TSA:

bin/signclient timestamp -verify -signerfile tsa1.pem -inrep server.log
Token was validated successfully.
Token was generated on: Fri Jul 28 18:59:00 CEST 2006
Token hash alg: SHA1
sha1sum server.log.2006-07-28-18-58
1a02dc7e05d06df45d2e0f74da502513852064d5 *server.log.2006-07-28-18-58

If the hashes from the time stamp token (MessageDigest) matches the hash from sha1sum, the file is verified, i.e. has not been changed since the time stamp token was generated.

Datasource Passwords

Note that Datasource passwords increase complexity of management of your system and consider if this really increases the security of your system and is required from a policy point of view.

If you do not like to have your DataSource password available in clear text in EjbcaDS.xml, refer to JBoss Developer information on Encrypting DataSource Passwords and Stackoverflow documentation on DataSource How To Encrypt Password.


  • 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 and paste the encoded password to 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

To allow JBoss to create the required database tables during the EJBCA installation process, the EJBCA database user requires CREATE TABLE privileges. During upgrades, EJCBA needs CREATE and ALTER TABLE privileges in addition to SELECT, UPDATE, INSERT, and DELETE privileges.)

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

Instead of changing the privileges of the EJBCA user, it is recommended to have the following two users:

  • ejbca: Used for regular operations.

  • ejbca-admin: For installation and upgrades, EJBCA is re-deployed with ejbca-admin configured in conf/database.properties.

The script doc/howto/mysql-privileges.sh creates an SQL script, run to limit privileges on a MySQL database. The script sets restricted privileges for every table in the EJBCA database. See the script for in-line documentation.

Denial of Service

Due to Large Data Packages or Slow Connections

There is no way to limit the data packages 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. For example, mod_reqtimeout can be used in an APache proxy.

SSL connections in MariaDB

For information on usage of SSL connection for the database connection, refer to MariaDB documentation on Secure Connections.

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.

Database Transaction Logs in MySQL

For more information, refer to MySQL Reference Manual - The Binary Log.

System Accounting in Linux

See your distribution for details about the package and or refer to general information on Linux Security - User, System, and Process Accounting.