The OnlineGlom demo does not require a login. However, the code does let you set up a server that requires a login, and I noticed that a successful login for one person became a login for everybody else. So after the first login, it was as if no login was required for anybody. Yes, really. Of course, this would not do.
So I fixed that, I think, learning some things about Java Servlet sessions along the way. This text is mostly for my own reference, and so that people can tell me how wrong I am, because I’d like to know about that.
In the server-side code
I now store the username and password (Yes, that’s not good, so keep reading), associated with the session ID, in a structure that’s associated with the ServletContext, via the javax.servlet.ServletContext.setAttribute() method. I get the ServletContext via the ServletConfig.getServletContext() method. I believe that this single instance is available to the entire web “app”, and it seems to work across my various servlets. For instance, if I login to view a regular page, the images servlet can also then provide images to show in the page. I’d really like to know if this is not the right thing to do.
However, it still stores your PostgreSQL username and password in memory, so it can use it again if you have the cookie from your last successful login. It does not store the password on disk, but that is still not good, because it could presumably still allow someone to steal all the passwords after a breakin, which would then endanger users who use the same password on other website. I cannot easily avoid this because it’s the PostgreSQL username and password that I’m using for login. PostgreSQL does store a hash rather than the plaintext password, but still requires the plaintext password to be supplied to it. I think I’ll have to generate PostgreSQL passwords and hide them behind a separate login username/password. Those passwords will still be stored in plaintext, but we won’t be storing the password entered by the user. I’d like to make this generic enough that I can use other authentication systems, such as Google’s for App Engine.
The login servlet now checks that it has been called via HTTPS, by using the ServletRequest.isSecure() method, and uses HTTPS when testing via mvn gwt:run. It refuses to do any authentication if HTTPS was not used, logging an error on the server.
In the client side code
I added a check for what protocol is used. If it’s not https then I warn that login cannot work. This does not add any security, but it’s a helpful hint.
Actually, the entire site must therefore be served via HTTPS, not just the login page, or we would violate the Same Origin Policy by mixing protocols, which the browser would rightfully complain about. At this point I noticed that most serious sites with logins now use HTTPS for their entire site. For instance, Google, Amazon, Facebook. This seems like a good simple rule, though I wonder if many projects don’t enforce it just to make debugging easier.