Framework 4 Features: Summary of Security enhancements

In the last log entry I mentioned one of the new security features in Oracle Utilities Application Framework 4.0.1. Security is one of the major "tent poles" (to borrow a phrase from Steve Jobs) in this release of the framework.

There are a number of security related enhancements requested by customers and as a result of internal reviews that we have introduced.

Here is a summary of some of the security enchancements we have added in this release:

  • Security Cache Changes - Security authorization information is automatically cached on the server for performance reasons (security is checked for every single call the product makes for all modes of access). Prior to this release the cache auto-refreshed every 30 minutes (or so). This has beem made more nimble by supporting a cache refresh every minute (or so). This means authorization changes are reflected quicker than before.

  • Business Level security - Business Services are configurable services that are based upon Application Services. Typically, the business service inherited its security profile from its parent service. Whilst this is sufficient for most needs, it is now required to further specify security on the Business Service definition itself. This will allow granular security and allow the same application service to be exposed as different Business Services with their own security. This is particularly useful when you base a Business Service on a query zone.

  • User Propogation - As with other client server applications, the database connections are pooled and shared as needed. This means that a common database user is used to access the database from the pool to allow sharing. Unfortunently, this means that tracability at the database level is that much harder. In Oracle Utilities Application Framework V4 the end userid is now propogated to the database using the CLIENT_IDENTIFIER as part of the Oracle JDBC connection API. This not only means that the common database userid is still used but the end user is indentifiable for the duration of the database call. This can be used for monitoring or to hook into Oracle's database security products. This enhancement is only available to Oracle Database customers.

  • Enhanced Security Definitions - Security Administrators use the product browser front end to control access rights of defined users. While this is sufficient for most sites, a new security portal has been introduced to speed up the maintenance of security information.

  • Oracle Identity Manager Integration - With the popularity of Oracle's Identity Management Suite, the Framework now provides an integration adapter and Identity Manager Generic Transport Connector (GTC) to allow users and group membership to be provisioned to any Oracle Utilities Application Framework based product from Oracle's Identity Manager. This is also available for Oracle Utilties Application Framework V2.2 customers. Refer to My Oracle Support KBid 970785.1 - Oracle Identity Manager Integration Overview.

  • Audit On Inquiry - Typically the configurable audit facility in the Oracle Utilities Application Framework is used to audit changes to records. In Oracle Utilities Application Framework the Business Services and Service Scripts could be configured to audit inquiries as well. Now it is possible to attach auditing capabilities to zones on the product (including base package ones).

  • Time Zone Support - In some of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products, the timezone of the end user is a factor in the processing. The user object has been extended to allow the recording of time zone information for use in product functionality.

  • JAAS Suport - Internally the Oracle Utilities Application Framework uses a number of techniques to validate and transmit security information across the architecture. These various methods have been reconciled into using Java Authentication and Authorization Services for standardized security. This is strictly an internal change with no direct on how security operates externally.

  • JMX Based Cache Management - In the last bullet point, I mentioned extra security applied to cache management from the browser. Alternatively a JMX based interface is now provided to allow IT operations to control the cache without the browser interface. This JMX capability can be initiated from a JSR120 compliant JMX console or JMX browser. I will be writing another more detailed blog entry on the JMX enhancements as it is quite a change and an exciting direction for the product line.

  • Data Patch Permissions - The database installer provided with the product required lower levels of security for some operations. At some sites they wanted the ability for non-DBA's to execute the utilities in a controlled fashion. The framework now allows feature configuration to allow delegation for patch execution.

  • User Enable Support - At some sites, the use of temporary staff such as contractors is commonplace. In this scenario, temporary security setups were required and used. A potential issue has arisen when the contractor left the company. Typically the IT group would remove the contractor from the security repository to prevent login using that contractors userid but the userid could NOT be removed from the authorization model becuase of audit requirements (if any user in the product updates financials or key data their userid is recorded for audit purposes). It is now possible to effectively diable the user from the security model to prevent any use of the useridwhilst retaining audit information.

These are a subset of the security changes in Oracle Utilities Application Framework. More details about the security capabilities of the product is contained in My Oracle Support KB Id 773473.1 - Oracle Utilities Application Framework Security Overview.


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Anthony Shorten
Hi, I am Anthony Shorten, I am the Principal Product Manager for the Oracle Utilities Application Framework. I have been working for over 20+ years in the IT Business and am the author of many a technical whitepaper, manual and training material. I am one of the product managers working on strategy and designs for the next generation of the technology used for the Utilities and Tax markets. This blog is provided to announce new features, document tips and techniques and also outline features of the Oracle Utilities Application Framework based products. These products include Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing, Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management, Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management and Oracle Public Service Revenue Management. I am the product manager for the Management Pack for these products.


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