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Basic auth with Apache and Tomcat

This is a short "recipe" article explaining how to configure basic authentication for the following setup:
  • Apache Tomcat with some application that need be partially password-protected
  • Apache HTTP Server 2.4 as a proxy
  • CentOS 7 Linux server
Although basic authentication can be configured within Tomcat itself, my target is to use Apache for that purpose. In addition, as passing unencrypted credentials over the web is insecure, I'm going to install SSL certificates to enable HTTPS for the part of my application. This setup can be used when a part of an internal application need be secured to make it publicly accessible using a separate firewall/proxy (out of scope of this article), that part will be password-protected and SSL-encrypted.

  1. Copy certificates into /etc/ssl/certs/
  2. Create symlink:
  3. cd /etc/httpd
    sudo ln -s /etc/ssl/certs/
  4. Install Apache mod_ssl
  5. sudo yum -y install mod_ssl
  6. Create file with user credentials for basic authentication
  7. sudo htpasswd -c /usr/local/apache/password/.htpasswd_application username
  8. Modify VirtualHost
  9. sudo vi /etc/httpd/conf.d/vhosts.conf
    The following are examples of virtual hosts:
    <VirtualHost *:443>
        SSLEngine on
        SSLCertificateFile /etc/httpd/
        SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/httpd/
        SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/httpd/
        # Password-protected part of the application is available under HTTPS
        <Location /application/protected_service>
            ProxyPass ajp://localhost:8009/application/protected_service
            AuthType Basic
            AuthName "Protected application"
            # By default, credentials are loaded from the file
            # There are smarter alternatives
            # As a default, the following directive can be omitted
            AuthBasicProvider file
            # Path to the file with user credentials
            AuthUserFile /usr/local/apache/password/.htpasswd_application
            # If Authorization header is not unset
            # Tomcat will return HTTP 401 Unauthorized
            RequestHeader unset "Authorization"
            # Require any valid user, can be limited to specific users
            Require valid-user
    <VirtualHost *:80>
        # The whole application is available under HTTP
        ProxyPass /application ajp://localhost:8009/application
  10. Restart Apache
  11. sudo service httpd restart

As a result, the following URLs will be accessible without password:
The following URL won't be accessible:
The following URL will be password-protected:
Once again, only the last HTTPS URL is supposed to be made publicly accessible in this setup. HTTP URLs are supposed to be internal-only, hidden behind the firewall. That was an idea but the firewall configuration is out of scope of this article.


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