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Building Secure ASP.NET Applications: Authentication, Authorization, and Secure Communication

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patterns & practices Developer Center

Enterprise Services Security

J.D. Meier, Alex Mackman, Michael Dunner, and Srinath Vasireddy
Microsoft Corporation

Published: November 2002

Last Revised: January 2006

Applies to:

  • Enterprise Services (.NET Framework 1.1)

See the "patterns & practices Security Guidance for Applications Index" for links to additional security resources.

See the Landing Page for the starting point and complete overview of Building Secure ASP.NET Applications.

Summary: This chapter explains how to secure business functionality in serviced components contained within Enterprise Services applications. It shows you how and when to use Enterprise Services (COM+) roles for authorization, and how to configure RPC authentication and impersonation. It also shows you how to securely call serviced components from an ASP.NET Web application and how to identify and flow the original caller's security context through a middle tier serviced component. (30 printed pages)

Contents

Security Architecture
Configuring Security
Programming Security
Choosing a Process Identity
Accessing Network Resources
Flowing the Original Caller
RPC Encryption
Building Serviced Components
DCOM and Firewalls
Calling Serviced Components from ASP.NET
Security Concepts
Summary

Traditional COM+ services such as distributed transactions, just-in-time activation, object pooling, and concurrency management are available to .NET components. With .NET, such services are referred to as Enterprise Services. They are essential for many middle-tier .NET components running within .NET Web applications.

To add services to a .NET component, you must derive the component class from the EnterpriseServices. ServicedComponent base class and then specify precise service requirements using .NET attributes compiled into the assembly that hosts the component.

This chapter describes how to build secure serviced components and how to call them from ASP.NET Web applications.

Security Architecture

The authentication, authorization, and secure communication features supported by Enterprise Services applications are shown in Figure 9.1. The client application shown in Figure 9.1 is an ASP.NET Web application.

Ff649340.f09sn01(en-us,PandP.10).gif

Figure 9.1. Enterprise Services role-based security architecture

Notice that authentication and secure communication features are provided by the underlying RPC transport used by Distributed COM (DCOM). Authorization is provided by Enterprise Services (COM+) roles.

The following summarizes the main elements of the Enterprise Services security architecture:

  • Enterprise Services applications use RPC authentication to authenticate callers. This means that unless you have taken specific steps to disable authentication, the caller is authenticated using either Kerberos or NTLM authentication.
  • Authorization is provided through Enterprise Services (COM+) roles, which can contain Microsoft® Windows® operating system group or user accounts. Role membership is defined within the COM+ catalog and is administered by using the Component Services tool.
    Note   If the Enterprise Services application uses impersonation, caller authorization using Windows ACLs on secured resources is also available.
  • When a client (for example, an ASP.NET Web application) calls a method on a serviced component, after the authentication process is complete, the Enterprise Services interception layer accesses the COM+ catalog to determine the client's role membership. It then checks whether membership of the role or roles permits authorized access to the current application, component, interface, and method.
  • If the client's role membership permits access, the method is called. If the client doesn't belong to an appropriate role, the call is rejected, and a security event is optionally generated to reflect the failed access attempt.
    Important   To implement meaningful role-based authorization within an Enterprise Services application called by an ASP.NET Web application, Windows authentication and impersonation must be used within the ASP.NET Web application in order to ensure that the original caller's security context flows through to the serviced component.
  • To secure the DCOM communication link between client and server applications, either the RPC Packet Integrity authentication level can be used (to provide message integrity), or the RPC Packet Privacy authentication level can be used (to provide message confidentiality).

Gatekeepers and Gates

The Enterprise Services runtime acts as the gatekeeper for serviced components. The individual gates (authorization points) within an Enterprise Services application are shown in Figure 9.2. You configure these gates by using Enterprise Services roles, which you must populate with the appropriate Windows group and user accounts.

Note   You must also ensure that access checking (role-based security) is enabled for your Enterprise Services application and that the appropriate level of authentication is being used. For more information about how to configure security, see Configuring Security later in this chapter.

Ff649340.f09sn02(en-us,PandP.10).gif

Figure 9.2. Gatekeepers within an Enterprise Services application

There are three distinct access checks performed in response to a client issuing a method call on a serviced component. These are illustrated in Figure 9.2 and described below:

  1. An initial access check is performed by the subsystem responsible for activating Enterprise Services applications—the COM Service Control Manager (SCM)—when a call to a serviced component results in an activation request (and the creation of a new instance of the COM+ surrogate process, Dllhost.exe).

    To successfully pass this access check, the caller must be a member of at least one role defined within the application.

  2. A second access check is performed when the client's call enters the Dllhost.exe process instance.

    Once again, if the caller is a member of at least one role defined within the application, this access check succeeds.

  3. The final access check occurs when the client's call enters either a server or library application.

    To successfully pass this access check, the caller must be a member of a role that is associated with either, the interface, class, or method that is the target of the client's call.

    Important   After a call invokes a method on a serviced component, no further access checks are made if the component communicates with other components located in the same application. However, access checks do occur if a component calls another component within a separate application (library or server).

Use Server Applications for Increased Security

If your application needs to enforce an authentication level, for example because it requires encryption to ensure that the data sent to a serviced component remains confidential and tamper proof while in transit across the network, you should use a server application.

The authentication level can be enforced for a server application, while library applications inherit their authentication level from the host process.

To configure the activation type of an Enterprise Services application, use the assembly level ApplicationActivation attribute as shown below.

 [assembly: ApplicationActivation(ActivationOption.Server)]

This is equivalent to setting the Activation Type to Server application on the Activation page of the application's Properties dialog within Component Services.

Security for Server and Library Applications

Role-based security works in a similar fashion for in-process library applications and out-of-process server applications.

Note the following differences for library applications:

  • Privileges. The privileges of a library application are determined by the privileges of the client (host) process. For example, if the client process runs with administrator privileges, the library application will also have administrator privileges.
  • Impersonation. The impersonation level of a library application is inherited from the client process and cannot be set explicitly.
  • Authentication. The authentication level of a library application is inherited from the client process. With library applications, you can explicitly enable or disable authentication. This option is available on the Security page of a library application's Properties dialog box.

    This option is typically used to support unauthenticated call-backs from other out-of-process COM components.

Assign roles to classes, interfaces or methods

With library applications you should always assign roles at the class, interface or method level. This is also best practice for server applications.

Users that are defined within library application roles cannot be added to the security descriptor of the client process. This means that you must use at least class-level security to allow a library application to perform role-based authorization.

Code Access Security Requirements

Code Access Security (CAS) requires that code have particular permissions to be able to perform certain operations and access restricted resources. CAS is most useful in a client environment where code is downloaded from the Internet. In this type of situation it is unlikely that the code is fully trusted.

Typically, applications that use serviced components are fully trusted, and as a result CAS has limited use. However, Enterprise Services does demand that the calling code have the necessary permission to call unmanaged code. This implies the following:

  • Unmanaged code permission is required to activate and perform cross context calls on serviced components.
  • If the client of a serviced component is an ASP.NET Web application, this application must have unmanaged code permission.
  • If a reference to a serviced component is passed to untrusted code, methods defined on the serviced component cannot be called from the untrusted code.

Configuring Security

This section shows you how to configure security for:

  • A serviced component running in an Enterprise Services server (out-of-process) application.
  • An ASP.NET Web application client.

Configuring a Server Application

The steps required to configure an Enterprise Services server application are shown in Figure 9.3.

Click here for larger image

Figure 9.3. Configuring Enterprise Services security (click thumbnail for larger image)

Development time vs. deployment time configuration

You can configure most security settings within the COM+ catalog at development time by using .NET attributes within the assembly that contains the serviced component. These attributes are used to populate the COM+ catalog when the serviced component is registered with COM+ by using the Regsvcs.exe tool.

Other configuration steps such as populating roles with Windows group and user accounts and configuring a run-as identity for the server application (Dllhost.exe instance) must be configured using the Component Services administration tool (or programmatically using script) at deployment time.

Configure authentication

To set the application authentication level declaratively, use the ApplicationAccessControl assembly level attribute as shown below.

 [assembly: ApplicationAccessControl(
              Authentication = AuthenticationOption.Call)]

This is equivalent to setting the Authentication Level for Calls value on the Security page of the application's Properties dialog within Component Services.

Note   The client's authentication level also affects the authentication level used by the Enterprise Services application, because a process of high-water mark negotiation is employed, which always results in the higher of the two settings being used.
For more information about configuring the DCOM authentication level used by an ASP.NET client application, see Configuring an ASP.NET Client Application, later in this section.
For more information about DCOM authentication levels and authentication level negotiation, see the Security Concepts section of this chapter.

Configure authorization (component-level access checks)

To enable fine-grained authorization at the component, interface or method level you must:

  • Enable access checks at the application level.

    Use the following .NET attribute to enable application-wide access checks.

     [assembly: ApplicationAccessControl(true)]
    

    This is equivalent to selecting the Enforce access checks for this application check box on the Security page of the application's Properties dialog box within Component Services.

    Important   Failure to set this attribute results in no access checks being performed.
  • Configure the application's security level at the process and component level.

    For meaningful role-based security, enable access checking at the process and component levels by using the following .NET attribute.

    [assembly: ApplicationAccessControl(AccessChecksLevel=
                            AccessChecksLevelOption.ApplicationComponent)]
    

    This is equivalent to selecting the Perform access checks at the process and component levels check box on the Security page of the application's Properties dialog box within Component Services.

    Note   Always enable access checking at the process and component level for library applications.
  • Enable component-level access checks.

    To enable component-level access checks, use the ComponentAccessControl class-level attribute as shown below.

     [ComponentAccessControl(true)]
    public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent
    {
    }
    

    This is equivalent to selecting the Enforce Component Level Access Checks check box on the Security page of the component Properties dialog box within Component Services.

    Note   This setting is effective only if you have enabled application-level access checking and have configured process and component level access checks, as described previously.

Create and assign roles

Roles can be created and assigned at the application, component (class), interface, and method levels.

Adding roles to an application

To add roles to an application, use the SecurityRole assembly level attribute as shown below.

[assembly:SecurityRole("Employee", Description="")]
[assembly:SecurityRole("Manager", Description="")]

This is equivalent to adding roles to an application by using the Component Services tool.

Note   Using the SecurityRole attribute at the assembly level is equivalent to adding roles to the application, but not assigning them to individual components, interfaces, or methods. The result is that the members of these roles determine the composition of the security descriptor attached to the application. This is used solely to determine who is allowed to access (and launch) the application.
For more effective role-based authorization, always apply roles to components, interfaces, and methods as described below.

Adding roles to a component (class)

To add roles to a component apply the SecurityRole attribute above the class definition, as shown below.

[SecurityRole("Manager"), Description=""]
public class Transfer : ServicedComponent
{
}

Adding roles to an interface

To apply roles at the interface level, you must create an interface definition and then implement it within your serviced component class. You can then associate roles with the interface by using the SecurityRole attribute.

Important   At development time, you must also annotate the class with the SecureMethod attribute. This informs Enterprise Services that method level security services may be used. At deployment time, administrators must also add users to the system defined Marshaler role, which is automatically created within the COM+ catalog, when a class that is marked with SecureMethod is registered with Component Services. If SecureMethod is specified, it must not be disabled in the COM+ catalog. If SecureMethod is enabled in the COM+ catalog, it must be specified on the component.
Use of the Marshaler role is discussed further in the next section.

The following example shows how to add the Manager role to a particular interface.

 [SecurityRole("Manager")]
public interface ISomeInterface
{
  void Method1( string message );
  void Method2( int parm1, int parm2 );
}

[ComponentAccessControl]
[SecureMethod]
public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent, ISomeInterface
{
  public void Method1( string message )
  {
    // Implementation
  }
  public void Method2( int parm1, int parm2 )
  {
    // Implementation
  }
}

Adding roles to a method

To ensure that the public methods of a class appear in the COM+ catalog, you must explicitly implement an interface that defines the methods. Then, to secure the methods, you must use the SecureMethod attribute on the class, or the SecureMethod or SecurityRole attribute at the method level.

Note   The SecureMethod and SecurityRole attributes must appear above the method implementation and not within the interface definition.

To enable method level security, perform the following steps:

  1. Define an interface that contains the methods you want to secure. For example:
    public interface ISomeInterface
    {
      void Method1( string message );
      void Method2( int parm1, int parm2 );
    }
    
  2. Implement the interface on the serviced component class:
     [ComponentAccessControl]
    public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent, 
      ISomeInterface
    {
      public void Method1( string message )
      {
        // Implementation
      }
      public void Method2( int parm1, int parm2 )
      {
        // Implementation
      }
    }
    
  3. If you want to configure roles administratively by using the Component Services tool, you must annotate the class with the SecureMethod attribute, as shown below.
     [ComponentAccessControl]
     [SecureMethod]
    public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent, 
      ISomeInterface
    {
    }
    
  4. Alternatively, if you want to add roles to methods at development time by using .NET attributes, apply the SecurityRole attribute at the method level. In this event, you do not need to apply the SecureMethod attribute at the class level (although the ComponentAccessControl attribute must still be present to configure component level access checks).

    In the following example only members of the Manager role can call Method1, while members of the Manager and Employee roles can call Method2.

     [ComponentAccessControl]
    public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent, 
      ISomeInterface
    {
      [SecurityRole("Manager")]
      public void Method1( string message )
      {
        // Implementation
      }
      [SecurityRole("Manager")]
      [SecurityRole("Employee")]
      public void Method2( int parm1, int parm2 )
      {
        // Implementation
      }
    }
    
  5. At deployment time, administrators must add any user that requires access to methods or interfaces of the class to the predefined Marshaler role.
    Note   The Enterprise Services infrastructure uses a number of system-level interfaces that are exposed by all serviced components. These include IManagedObject, IDisposable, and IServiceComponentInfo. If access checks are enabled at the interface or method levels, the Enterprise Services infrastructure is denied access to these interfaces.
    As a result, Enterprise Services creates a special role called Marshaler and associates the role with these interfaces. You can view this role (and the aforementioned interfaces) with the Component Services tool.
    At deployment time, application administrators need to add all users to the Marshaler role who needs to access any methods or interface of the class. You can automate this in two different ways:
    • Write a script that uses the Component Services object model to copy all users from other roles to the Marshaler role.
    • Write a script that assigns all other roles to these three special interfaces and delete the Marshaler role.

Register serviced components

Register serviced components in:

  • The Global Assembly Cache. Serviced components hosted in COM+ server applications require installation in the global assembly cache, while library applications do not.

    To register a serviced component in the global assembly cache, run the Gacutil.exe command line utility. To register an assembly called MyServicedComponent.dll in the global assembly cache, run the following command.

    Gacutil-i MyServicedComponent.dll
    
    Note   You can also use the Microsoft .NET Framework Configuration Tool from the Administrative Tools program group to view and manipulate the contents of the global assembly cache.
  • The COM+ Catalog. To register an assembly called MyServicedComponent.dll in the COM+ catalog, run the following command.
    regsvcs.exe MyServicedComponent.dll
    

    This command results in the creation of a COM+ application. The .NET attributes present within the assembly are used to populate the COM+ catalog.

Populate roles

Populate roles by using the Component Services tool, or by using script to program the COM+ catalog using the COM+ administration objects.

Use Windows groups

Add Windows group accounts to Enterprise Services roles for maximum flexibility. By using Windows groups, you can effectively use one administration tool (the Users and Computers Administration tool) to administer both Windows and Enterprise Services security.

  • Create a Windows group for each role in the Enterprise Services application.
  • Assign each group to its respective role.

    For example, if you have a role called Manager, create a Windows group called Managers. Assign the Managers group to the Manager role.

  • After you assign groups to roles, use the Users and Computers Administration tool to add and remove users in each group.

    For example, adding a Windows user account named David to the Windows group Managers effectively maps David to the Manager role.

To assign Windows groups to Enterprise Services roles by using Component Services

  1. Using the Component Services tool, expand the application that contains the roles to which you want to add Windows 2000 groups.
  2. Expand the Roles folder and the specific role to which you want to assign Windows groups.
  3. Select the Users folder under the specific role.
  4. Right-click the folder, point to New, and then click User.
  5. In the Select Users or Groups dialog box, add groups (or users) to the role.

More information

For more information about programming the COM+ catalog by using the COM+ administration objects, see Automating COM+ Administration within the Component Development section of the MSDN Library.

Configure identity

Use the Component Services tool (or script) to configure the identity of the Enterprise Services application. The identity property determines the account used to run the instance of Dllhost.exe that hosts the application.

To configure identity

  1. Using the Component Services tool, select the relevant application.
  2. Right-click the name of the application, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Identity tab.
  4. Click This user and specify the configured service account used to run the application.

More information

For more information about choosing an appropriate identity to run an Enterprise Services application, see Choosing a Process Identity later in this chapter.

Configuring an ASP.NET Client Application

You must configure the DCOM authentication level and impersonation levels used by client applications when communicating with serviced components using DCOM.

Configure authentication

To configure the default authentication level used by an ASP.NET Web application when it communicates with a serviced component, edit the comAuthenticationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element in Machine.config.

Machine.config is located in the following folder.

%windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.0.3705\CONFIG

Set the comAuthenticationLevel attribute to one of the following values.

comAuthenticationLevel=
            "[Default|None|Connect|Call|Pkt|PktIntegrity|PktPrivacy]"

More information

For more information about DCOM authentication levels, see Authentication within the "Security Concepts" section later in this chapter.

Configure impersonation

The impersonation level set by the client determines the impersonation level capabilities of the server. To configure the default impersonation level used by a Web-based application when it communicates with a serviced component, edit the comImpersonationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element in Machine.config. Set it to one of the following values.

comImpersonationLevel="[Default|Anonymous|Identify|Impersonate|Delega
  te]"

More information

For more information about DCOM impersonation levels, see Impersonation within the "Security Concepts" section later in this chapter.

Configuring Impersonation Levels for an Enterprise Services Application

If a serviced component in one application needs to call a serviced component within a second (server) application, you may need to configure the impersonation level for the client application.

Important   The impersonation level configured for an Enterprise Services application (on the Security page of the application's Properties dialog box) is the impersonation level used by outgoing calls made by components within the application. It does not affect whether or not serviced components within the application perform impersonation. To impersonate clients within a serviced component, you must use programmatic impersonation techniques, as described in "Flowing the Original Caller," later in this chapter.

To set the application impersonation level declaratively, use the ApplicationAccessControl assembly level attribute as shown below.

 [assembly: ApplicationAccessControl(
              ImpersonationLevel=ImpersonationLevelOption.Identify)]

This is equivalent to setting the Impersonation Level value on the Security page of the application's Properties dialog within Component Services.

Programming Security

The Enterprise Services security features are available to .NET components using the ContextUtil, SecurityCallContext, and SecurityIdentity classes.

Programmatic Role-Based Security

For fine-grained authorization decisions, you can programmatically test role membership using the IsCallerInRole method of the ContextUtil class. Prior to calling this method, always check that component-level access checks are enabled, as shown in the following code fragment. If security is disabled, IsCallerInRole always returns true.

public void Transfer(string fromAccount, string toAccount, double 
  amount)
{
  // Check that security is enabled
  if (ContextUtil.IsSecurityEnabled) 
  {
    // Only Managers are allowed to transfer sums of money in excess 
    // of $1000
    if (amount > 1000)
    {
      if (ContextUtil.IsCallerInRole("Manager"))
      {
        // Caller is authorized
      }
      else
      {
        // Caller is unauthorized
      }
    }
}

Identifying Callers

The following example shows how to identify all upstream callers from within a serviced component.

 [ComponentAccessControl]
public class MyServicedComponent : ServicedComponent
{
  public void ShowCallers()
  {
    SecurityCallContext context = SecurityCallContext.CurrentCall;
    SecurityCallers callers = context.Callers;
    foreach(SecurityIdentity id in callers)
    {
      Console.WriteLine(id.AccountName);
    }
  }
}
Note   The original caller identity is available via the SecurityCallContext.OriginalCaller property.

Choosing a Process Identity

Server activated Enterprise Services applications run within an instance of the Dllhost.exe process. You must configure the account used to run the process in the COM+ catalog by using the Component Services tool.

Note   You cannot specify the run as identity by using a .NET attribute.

Never Run as the Interactive User

Do not run server applications using the identity of the interactively logged on user (this is the default setting). There are two main reasons to avoid this:

  • The privileges and access rights of the application will vary and will be dependent upon who is currently logged on interactively at the server. If an administrator happens to be logged on, the application will have administrator privileges.
  • If the application is launched while a user is interactively logged on and then the user logs off, the server application will be shut down. It will not be able to restart until another user logs on interactively.

The interactive user setting is designed for developers to use at development time, and should not be considered a deployment setting.

Use a Least-Privileged Custom Account

Create a least privileged account to mitigate the threat associated with a process compromise. If a determined attacker manages to compromise the server process, he or she will easily be able to inherit the privileges and access rights granted to the process account. An account configured with minimum privileges restricts the potential damage that can be done.

If you need to access network resources with the process account, the remote computer must be able to authenticate the process account. In this scenario, you have two options:

  • You can use a domain account if the two computers are in the same or trusting domains.
  • You can use a local account and then create a duplicate account (with the same user name and password) on the remote computer. With this option, you must ensure that the passwords of the two accounts remain synchronized.

    You may be forced to use the duplicated local account approach if the remote computer is located in a separate domain (with no trust relationship), or if the remote computer is behind a firewall (where closed ports do not permit Windows authentication).

Accessing Network Resources

Your serviced components may need to access remote resources. It is important to be able to identify the following:

  • The resources the components need to access. For example, files on file shares, databases, other DCOM servers, Active Directory® directory service objects, and so on.
  • The identity used to perform the resource access. If your serviced component accesses remote resources, the identity used (which by default is the process identity) must be capable of being authenticated by the remote computer.
    Note   For information specific to accessing remote SQL Server databases, see Chapter 12, Data Access Security.

You can access remote resources from a component within an Enterprise Services application by using any of the following identities:

  • The original caller (if you are explicitly impersonating by using CoImpersonateClient)
  • The current process identity (configured in the COM+ catalog for server applications)
  • A specific service account

Using the Original Caller

To use the original caller's identity for remote resource access, you must:

  • Programmatically impersonate the original caller by calling CoImpersonateClient.
  • Be able to delegate the caller's security context from the application server hosting the Enterprise Services application to the remote computer. This assumes that you are using Kerberos authentication between your Enterprise Services application and client application.
Scalability Warning   If you access the data services tier of your application using the original caller's impersonated identity, you severely impact the application's ability to scale, because you prevent database connection pooling from working efficiently; it doesn't work efficiently because the security context of each database connection is tied to many individual callers.

More information

For more information about impersonating callers, see Flowing the Original Caller, later in this chapter.

Using the Current Process Identity

If your application is configured to run as a server application, you can use the configured process identity for remote resource access (this is the default case).

If you want to use the server process account for remote resource access, you must either:

  • Run the server application using a least-privileged domain account. This assumes that client and server computers are in the same or trusting domains.
  • Duplicate the process account using the same username and password on the remote computer.

If ease of administration is your primary concern, you should use a least-privileged domain account.

If your application is configured to run as a library application, the process identity is inherited from the host process (which will often be a Web-based application). For more information about using the ASP.NET process identity for remote resource access, see Chapter 8, ASP.NET Security.

Using a Specific Service Account

Your Enterprise Services application could access remote resources by using a specifically configured service account (that is, a non-user Windows account). However, this approach is not recommended on Windows 2000 because it relies on you calling the LogonUser API.

The use of LogonUser on Windows 2000, forces you to grant the "Act as part of the operating system" privilege to the Enterprise Services process account. This significantly reduces the security of your application.

Note   If you are running Microsoft Windows Server 2003, you do not need to grant the "Act as part of the operating system" privilege to the Enterprise Services process account.

Flowing the Original Caller

By default, outgoing calls issued by serviced components (for example, to access local or remote resources) are made using the security context obtained from the host process. For server applications, this is the configured run-as identity. For library applications, this is the identity of the (host) client process (for example, ASP.NET process identity when an ASP.NET Web application is the client).

To flow the original caller's context through an Enterprise Services application

  1. Call CoImpersonateClient.

    This creates and attaches a thread impersonation token to the current thread.

  2. Perform operation (access local or remote resource).

    As impersonation is enabled, the outgoing call is made using the client's security context (as defined by the impersonation token).

    If local resources are accessed, the caller (client process) must have specified at least Impersonate level impersonation. If remote resources are accessed, the caller must have specified Delegate level impersonation.

    If the caller is an ASP.NET Web application, the default impersonation level for the ASP.NET worker process is Impersonate. Therefore, to flow the original caller to a downstream remote computer, you must change this default to Delegate (on the <processModel> element of Machine.config on the client computer).

    Note   To use the original caller's security context to access remote resources you must use Kerberos authentication, with accounts configured for delegation. The account used to run the Enterprise Services server application must also be marked in Active Directory as "Trusted for delegation."
  3. Cease impersonation by calling CoRevertToSelf.

    This removes the impersonation token. Any subsequent call from the current method uses the process security context. If you fail to call CoRevertToSelf, it is called implicitly by the runtime when the method ends.

Note   The identity of the original caller automatically flows to an Enterprise Services application and is available using SecurityCallContext.OriginalCaller. This can be useful for auditing purposes.

Calling CoImpersonateClient

CoImpersonateClient (and CoRevertToSelf) are located within OLE32.dll. You must import their definitions by using the DllImport attribute in order to be able to call them through P/Invoke. This is illustrated in the following code fragment.

class COMSec
{ 
  [DllImport("OLE32.DLL", CharSet=CharSet.Auto)]
  public static extern uint CoImpersonateClient();

  [DllImport("OLE32.DLL", CharSet=CharSet.Auto)]
  public static extern uint CoRevertToSelf();
} 
. . .
void SomeMethod()
{
  // To flow the original caller's security context and use it to
  // access local or remote resources, start impersonation
  COMSec.CoImpersonateClient();
  // Perform operations as the caller
  // Code here uses the context of the caller - not the context of
  // the process
  . . .
  COMSec.CoRevertToSelf();
  // Code here reverts to using the process context
}

More information

For more information about how to configure a complete Kerberos delegation scenario that shows how to flow the original caller's security context through an ASP.NET Web application, an Enterprise Services application, and onto a database, see Flowing the Original Caller to the Database in Chapter 5, Intranet Security.

RPC Encryption

To secure the data sent from a client application to a remote serviced component over DCOM, use the RPC Packet Privacy authentication level between client and server. This provides message confidentiality and integrity.

You must configure the authentication level at the client and server.

To configure ASP.NET (where an ASP.NET Web application is the client), set the comAuthenticationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element in machine.config to PktPrivacy.

To configure an Enterprise Services server application, set the application-level authentication level either by using the Component Services tool or the following .NET attribute within the serviced component assembly.

 [assembly: ApplicationAccessControl(
              Authentication = AuthenticationOption.Privacy)]

More Information

  • For more information about configuring security (including authentication levels), see Configuring Security earlier in this chapter.
  • For more information about RPC/DCOM authentication levels, see Authentication later in this chapter.
  • For more information about authentication-level negotiation, see Authentication Level Negotiation later in this chapter.

Building Serviced Components

For a step-by-step walkthrough that shows you how to build a serviced component, see How To: Use Role-based Security with Enterprise Services in .NET 1.1 in the Reference section of this guide.

DLL Locking Problems

When you rebuild a serviced component, if the DLL is locked:

  • Use Component Services to shut down the COM+ server application.
  • If you are developing a library application, the application may still be loaded into the ASP.NET worker process. Run IISReset from a command prompt or use Task Manager to stop the ASP.NET worker process.
  • Use the FileMon.exe tool from www.sysinternals.com to help troubleshoot file locking problems.

Versioning

The default AssemblyVersion attribute that is generated by Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET development system when you create a new project is shown below.

[assembly: AssemblyVersion("1.0.*")]

Each time you rebuild the project, a new assembly version is generated. This also results in the generation of a new class identifier (CLSID) to identify the serviced component classes. If you repeatedly register the assembly with component services using Regsvcs.exe, you will see duplicated components (strictly classes) with different CLSIDs listed beneath the Components folder.

While this complies with strict COM versioning semantics and will prevent existing managed and unmanaged clients from breaking, it can be an annoyance during development.

During test and development, consider setting an explicit version by using the assembly level AssemblyVersion attribute shown below.

 [assembly: AssemblyVersion("1.0.0.1")]

This setting will prevent a new CLSID being generated with each successive project build. You may also want to fix the interface identifiers (IIDs). If your class implements explicit interfaces, you can fix the IID for a given interface by using the GUID attribute as shown below.

 [Guid("E1FBF27E-9F11-474d-8DF6-58916F798E9D")]
public interface IMyInterface
{
}

To generate new GUIDs

  1. On the Tools menu of Visual Studio .NET, click Create GUID.
  2. Click Registry Format.
  3. Click New GUID.
  4. Click Copy.
  5. Paste the GUID from the clipboard into your source code.
    Important   Prior to deploying your serviced component assembly for test and production, remove any fixed GUIDs and revert to an automated assembly versioning mechanism (for example, by using "1.0.*"). Failure to do so increases the likelihood that a new release of your component will break existing clients.

More information

For more information about versioning for deployment, see Understanding Enterprise Services (COM+) in .NET on MSDN.

QueryInterface Exceptions

If you see a QueryInterface call for the IRoleSecurity interface failing, this indicates that you have updated an interface definition within your assembly, but have not re-registered the assembly with Component Services using Regsvcs.exe.

Important   Each time you run Regsvcs.exe you will need to reconfigure a server application's run-as identity and will also need to add users to groups again. You can create a simple script to automate this task.

DCOM and Firewalls

Windows 2000 (SP3 or QFE 18.1) or Windows Server 2003 allow you to configure Enterprise Services applications to use a static endpoint. If a firewall separates the client from the server, you only need to open two ports in the firewall. Specifically, you must open port 135 for RPC and a port for your Enterprise Services application.

As an alternative to this approach consider exposing your Enterprise Services application as a Web service. This allows you to activate and call serviced components by using SOAP over port 80. The main issue with this approach is that it doesn't allow you to flow transaction context from client to server. You would need to initiate your transaction at the remote serviced component.

More Information

For more information, see the following Knowledge Base articles:

Calling Serviced Components from ASP.NET

This section highlights the main issues you will encounter when an ASP.NET application calls a serviced component.

Caller's Identity

When you call a serviced component from an ASP.NET application, the security identity for the call is obtained from the application's Win32® thread identity. If the Web application is configured to impersonate the caller, this is the caller's identity. Otherwise, this is the ASP.NET process.

From an ASP.NET application, you can retrieve the current Win32 thread identity by calling WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent().

From a serviced component, you can retrieve the original caller identity by using SecurityCallContext.OriginalCaller.

Use Windows Authentication and Impersonation Within the Web-based Application

To enable meaningful role-based security within your Enterprise Services application, you must use Windows authentication and enable impersonation. This ensures that the serviced components are able to authenticate the original callers and make authorization decisions based on the original caller's identity.

Configure Authentication and Impersonation within Machine.config

DCOM authentication levels are negotiated between client (for example, the Web-based application) and server (the Enterprise Services application). The higher of the two security settings is used.

Configure ASP.NET authentication levels by using the comAuthenitcation attribute on the <processModel> element of Machine.config.

Impersonation levels are controlled by the client (for example, a Web-based application). The client can determine the degree of impersonation that it is willing to allow the server to use.

Configure ASP.NET impersonation levels (for all outgoing DCOM calls), by using the comImpersonationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element of Machine.config.

Configuring Interface Proxies

The security settings that apply to individual interface proxies are usually obtained from the default process level security settings. In the case of ASP.NET, default security settings such as the impersonation level and authentication level are configured in Machine.config, as described earlier.

If necessary, you can alter the security settings used by an individual interface proxy. For example, if your ASP.NET application communicates with a serviced component that exposes two interfaces and sensitive data is passed through only one interface, you may choose to use the encryption support provided by the packet privacy authentication level only on the sensitive interface and to use, for example, packet authentication on the other interface. This means that you do not experience the performance hit associated with encryption on both interfaces.

Collectively, the set of security settings that apply to an interface proxy are referred to as the security blanket. COM provides the following functions to allow you to query and manipulate security blanket settings on an individual interface proxy:

  • CoQueryProxyBlanket
  • CoSetProxyBlanket
  • CoCopyProxy

You must use P/Invoke to call these functions from an ASP.NET Web application (the DCOM client), The following code shows how to configure a specific interface to use the Packet Privacy authentication level (which provides encryption). This code can be used from an ASP.NET Web application that communicates with a remote serviced component.

// Define a wrapper class for the P/Invoke call to CoSetProxyBlanket
class COMSec
{ 
  // Constants required for the call to CoSetProxyBlanket
  public const uint RPC_C_AUTHN_DEFAULT           = 0xFFFFFFFF;
  public const uint RPC_C_AUTHZ_DEFAULT           = 0xFFFFFFFF;
  public const uint RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_PKT_PRIVACY = 6;
  public const uint RPC_C_IMP_LEVEL_DEFAULT       = 0;
  public const uint COLE_DEFAULT_AUTHINFO         = 0xFFFFFFFF;
  public const uint COLE_DEFAULT_PRINCIPAL        = 0;
  public const uint EOAC_DEFAULT                  = 0x800;

  // HRESULT  CoSetProxyBlanket( IUnknown * pProxy,
  //                             DWORD dwAuthnSvc,
  //                             DWORD dwAuthzSvc,
  //                             WCHAR * pServerPrincName,
  //                             DWORD dwAuthnLevel,
  //                             DWORD dwImpLevel,
  //                             RPC_AUTH_IDENTITY_HANDLE pAuthInfo,
  //                             DWORD dwCapabilities );
[DllImport("OLE32.DLL", CharSet=CharSet.Auto)] 
public unsafe static extern uint CoSetProxyBlanket( 
                                      IntPtr pProxy,
                                      uint dwAuthnSvc,
                                      uint dwAuthzSvc,
                                      IntPtr pServerPrincName,
                                      uint dwAuthnLevel,
                                      uint dwImpLevel,
                                      IntPtr pAuthInfo,
                                      uint dwCapababilities);
} // end class COMSec


// Code to call CoSetProxyBlanket
void CallComponent()
{
  // This is the interface to configure
  Guid IID_ISecureInterface = new Guid("c720ff19-bec1-352c-bb4b-
    e2de10b858ba");
  IntPtr pISecureInterface;

  // Instantiate the serviced component
  CreditCardComponent comp = new CreditCardComponent();
  // Get its IUnknown pointer
  IntPtr pIUnk = Marshal.GetIUnknownForObject(comp);
  // Get the interface to configure
  Marshal.QueryInterface(pIUnk, ref IID_ISecureInterface,
                         out pISecureInterface);
  try
  {
    // Configure the interface proxy and set packet privacy
    //authentication
    uint hr = COMSec.CoSetProxyBlanket( pISecureInterface, 
                                        COMSec.RPC_C_AUTHN_DEFAULT,
                                        COMSec.RPC_C_AUTHZ_DEFAULT,
                                        IntPtr.Zero,
                                COMSec.RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_PKT_PRIVACY,
                                COMSec.RPC_C_IMP_LEVEL_DEFAULT,
                                        IntPtr.Zero,
                                        COMSec.EOAC_DEFAULT );
    ISecureInterface secure = (ISecureInterface)comp;
    // The following call will be encrypted as ISecureInterface is
    // configured for packet privacy authentication. Other interfaces
    // use the process level defaults (normally packet
    // authentication).
    secure.ValidateCreditCard("123456789");
  }
  catch (Exception ex)
  {
  }
}

More information

  • For more information about configuring an ASP.NET client application to call serviced components, see Configuring an ASP.NET Client Application, earlier in this chapter.
  • For more information about DCOM authentication levels, see Authentication, later in this chapter.
  • For more information about DCOM impersonation levels, see Impersonation, later in this chapter.
  • For more information about using Windows authentication and enabling impersonation within a Web-based application, see Chapter 8, ASP.NET Security.

Security Concepts

This section provides a brief overview of Enterprise Services security concepts. If you are already experienced with COM+, many of the concepts will be familiar.

For background information on Enterprise Services, see the MSDN article Understanding Enterprise Services (COM+) in .NET.

The following are summaries of key security concepts that you should understand:

  • Security settings for serviced components and Enterprise Services applications are maintained within the COM+ catalog. Most settings can be configured using .NET attributes. All settings can be configured by using the Component Services administration tool or Microsoft Visual Basic® Scripting Edition development system scripts.
  • Authorization is provided by Enterprise Services (COM+) roles, which can contain Windows group or user accounts. These are not the same as .NET roles.
    • Role-based security can be applied at the application, interface, class, and method levels.
    • Imperative role checks can be performed programmatically within methods by using the IsCallerInRole method of the ContextUtil class.
  • Effective role-based authorization within an Enterprise Services application relies on a Windows identity being used to call serviced components.
    • This may require you to use Windows authentication coupled with impersonation within an ASP.NET Web application—if the Web application calls serviced components that rely on Enterprise Services (COM+) roles.
    • When you call a serviced component from an ASP.NET Web application or Web service, the identity used for the outgoing DCOM call is determined by the Win32 thread identity as defined by WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent().
  • Serviced components can run in server or library applications.
    • Server applications run in separate instances of Dllhost.exe.
    • Library applications run in the client's process address space.
    • Role-based authorization works in a similar fashion for server and library applications, although there are some subtle differences between library and server applications from a security perspective. For details, see "Security for Server and Library Applications" earlier in this chapter.
  • Authentication is provided by the underlying services of DCOM and RPC. The client and server's authentication level combined to determine the resulting authentication level used for communication with the serviced component.
  • Impersonation is configured within the client application. It determines the impersonation capabilities of the server.

Enterprise Services (COM+) Roles and .NET Roles

Enterprise Services (COM+) roles are used to represent common categories of users who share the same security privileges within an application. While conceptually similar to .NET roles, they are completely independent.

Enterprise Services (COM+) roles contain Windows user and group accounts (unlike .NET roles that can contain arbitrary non-Windows user identities). Because of this, Enterprise Services (COM+) roles are only an effective authorization mechanism for applications that use Windows authentication and impersonation (in order to flow the caller's security context to the Enterprise Services application).

Table 9.1. Comparing Enterprise Services (COM+) roles with .NET roles

FeatureEnterprise Services (COM+) Roles.NET Roles
AdministrationComponent Services Administration ToolCustom
Data StoreCOM+ CatalogCustom data store (for example, SQL Server or Active Directory)
DeclarativeYes
[SecurityRole("Manager")]
Yes
[PrincipalPermission(
SecurityAction.Demand,
Role="Manager")]
ImperativeYes
ContextUtil.IsCallerInRole()
Yes
IPrincipal.IsInRole
Class, Interface, and Method Level GranularityYesYes
ExtensibleNoYes
(using custom IPrincipal implementation)
Available to all .NET componentsOnly for components that
derive from ServicedComponent base class
Yes
Role MembershipRoles contain Windows group or user accountsWhen using WindowsPrincipals,
roles ARE Windows groups—no extra level of abstraction
Requires explicit Interface implementationYes
To obtain method level authorization, an interface must be explicitly defined and implemented
No

Authentication

Because Enterprise Services rely on the underlying infrastructure provided by COM+ and DCOM/RPC, the authentication level settings available to Enterprise Services applications are those defined by RPC (and used by DCOM).

Table 9.2. Enterprise Services applications authentication settings

Authentication LevelDescription
DefaultChoose authentication level using normal negotiation rules
NoneNo authentication
ConnectOnly authenticate credentials when the client initially connects to the server
CallAuthenticate at the start of each remote procedure call
PacketAuthenticate all data received from the client
Packet IntegrityAuthenticate all data and verify that none of the transferred data has been modified
Packet PrivacyAuthenticate all data and encrypt parameter state for each remote procedure call

Authentication level promotion

You should be aware that certain authentication levels are silently promoted. For example:

  • If the User Data Protocol (UDP) datagram transport is used, Connect and Call levels are promoted to Packet, because the aforementioned authentication levels only make sense over a connection oriented transport such as TCP.
    Note   Windows 2000 defaults to RPC over TCP for DCOM communications.
  • For inter-process calls on a single computer, all authentication levels are always promoted to Packet Privacy. However, in a single computer scenario, data is not encrypted for confidentiality (because the data doesn't cross the network).

Authentication level negotiation

The authentication level used by Enterprise Services to authenticate a client is determined by two settings:

  • The process level authentication level. For a server-activated application (running within Dllhost.exe), the authentication level is configured within the COM+ catalog.
  • The client authentication level. The configured authentication level of the client process that communicates with the serviced component also affects the authentication level that is used.

    The default authentication level for an ASP.NET Web application is defined by the comAuthenticationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element in Machine.config.

The higher of the two (client and server) authentication level is always chosen. This is illustrated in the Figure 9.4.

Ff649340.f09sn04(en-us,PandP.10).gif

Figure 9.4. Authentication level negotiation

More information

For information about how to configure authentication levels for an Enterprise Service application, see Configuring Security earlier in this chapter.

Impersonation

The impersonation level defined for an Enterprise Services application determines the impersonation level to be used for all outgoing DCOM calls made by serviced components within the application.

Important   It does NOT determine whether or the not serviced components within the application impersonate their callers. By default, serviced components do not impersonate callers. To do so, the service component must call CoImpersonateClient, as described in "Flowing the Original Caller" earlier in this chapter.

Impersonation is a client-side setting. It offers a degree of protection to the client as it allows the client to restrict the impersonation capabilities of the server.

Table 9.3. Available impersonation levels

Impersonation LevelDescription
IdentifyAllows the server to identify the client and perform access checks using the client's access token
ImpersonateAllows the server to access local resources using the client's credentials
DelegateAllows the server to access remote resources using the client's credentials (this requires Kerberos and specific account configuration)

The default impersonation level used by a Web-based application when it communicates with serviced components (or any component using DCOM) is determined by the comImpersonationLevel attribute on the <processModel> element in Machine.config.

Cloaking

Cloaking determines precisely how client identity is projected through a COM object proxy to a server during impersonation. There are two forms of cloaking:

  • Dynamic Cloaking. Enterprise Services server applications use dynamic cloaking (this is not configurable). Cloaking for library applications is determined by the host process, for example the ASP.NET worker process. Web-based applications also use dynamic cloaking—again this is not configurable.

    Dynamic cloaking causes the thread impersonation token to be used to represent the client's identity during impersonation. This means that if you call CoImpersonateClient within a serviced component, the client's identity is assumed for subsequent outgoing calls made by the same method, until either CoRevertToSelf is called or the method ends (where CoRevertToSelf is implicitly called).

  • Static Cloaking. With static cloaking, the server sees the credentials that are used on the first call from client to server (irrespective of whether or not a thread is impersonating during an outgoing call).

More information

  • For information about how to configure impersonation levels for Enterprise Service applications, see Configuring Security, earlier in this chapter.
  • For more information about cloaking, see Cloaking (COM) on MSDN.

Summary

This chapter has described how to build secure serviced components within an Enterprise Services application. You have also seen how to configure an ASP.NET Web-based client application that calls serviced components. To summarize:

  • Use server activated Enterprise Services applications for increased security. Additional process hops raise security.
  • Use least-privileged, local accounts to run server applications.
  • Use Packet Privacy level authentication (which must be configured at the server and client) if you need to secure the data sent to and from a serviced component across a network from a client application.
  • Enable component-level access checks for a meaningful role-based security implementation.
  • Use Windows authentication and enable impersonation in an ASP.NET Web application prior to calling a component within an Enterprise Services application that relies on role-based security.
  • Use secured gateway classes as entry points into Enterprise Service applications.

    By reducing the number of gateway classes that provide entry points for clients into your Enterprise Service applications, you reduce the number of classes that need to have roles assigned. Other internal helper classes should have role-based checks enabled but should have no roles assigned to them. This means that external clients will not be able to call them directly, while gateway classes in the same application will have direct access.

  • Call IsSecurityEnabled immediately prior to checking role membership programmatically.
  • Avoid impersonation in the middle tier because this prevents the effective use of database connection pooling and dramatically reduces the scalability of your application.
  • Add Windows groups to Enterprise Services (COM+) roles for increased flexibility and easier administration

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