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From "Becker, Michael" <Michael.Bec...@archongroup.com>
Subject JSSE 1.4: 'Want' vs. 'Need' Client Certificate Authentication
Date Thu, 22 Jan 2004 18:38:50 GMT
One of the additional features that has been introduced in JSSE 1.4 is
the ability to 'want' client certificates instead of 'require'ing them
(http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/docs/guide/security/jsse/JSSERefGuide.ht
ml#NewMethods).  It also appears that this functionality is not
available in the PureTLS implementation of the SSL protocol (at least
that I could find).  This feature could be useful in scenarios where
some users have client side certificates and some do not.  This would
still allow both sets of users to connect to the same host, but using
different modes of authentication.  Another nice thing that this feature
would give us is the ability to provide a friendly "You don't have a
client certificate and contact this help desk to get your client
certificate" instead of not allowing any requests to get into the
container.

Considering the fact that this is only applicable to a JDK 1.4.x VM, is
this something that could be built into the current distribution?  Here
are some options that I came up with to get this functionality in
Tomcat.

1.  Provide an additional argument to the
org.apache.coyote.tomcat4.CoyoteServerSocketFactory in server.xml to
'want' certificate authentication.  If the underlying SSL implementation
does not support that feature, log an error/warning and revert to 'need'
certificate authentication.

2.  For the org.apache.tomcat.util.net.jsse.JSSE14* classes, change the
functionality to 'want' certificates instead of 'need' them.  This gives
the application and container the ability to give the user an error if
they do not have a certificate instead of closing the socket and making
the browser show the 'Page can not be displayed' error.  This would
change existing behavior and thus could be a really bad thing to do.

3.  Make my own modifications and don't incorporate into the default
distribution.


Regards, 
Mike Becker

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