Spring 3 and Spring Security: Setting your Own Custom /j_spring_security_check Filter Processes URL


Sat Jul 24 20:20:00 2010 -0700

While working on a new personal project, I decided to pick up and dig into Spring 3 MVC and Spring Security. I’ve touched both of these technologies here and there in a number of other projects, but this new opportunity has really opened the door for a deep dive into Spring.

I setup a few Spring 3 controllers, and integrated Spring Security into my web-app. All went great and so I added a simple form-based login to my Spring Security XML configuration.

Problem: Overriding UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter

When setting up a form-based login via a default Spring Security <http:security> configuration, Spring auto generates and configures a UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter bean. This filter, by default, responds to the URL /j_spring_security_check when processing a login POST from your web-form. First, I want to override Spring Security’s default login process URL to /login instead of /j_spring_security_check. Second, I’ve configured a Spring 3 controller to display my login web-form when a user visits /login.

That said, here’s the underlying problem with Spring Security’s default UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter: I want it to accept and process POST’s to /login, but a GET or any HTTP method to /login should be forwarded to the next filter in the chain. Not surprisingly, you cannot do this with Spring Security’s default UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter because it does not @Override the doFilter() method of AbstractAuthenticationProcessingFilter. In short, there’s no way to get and check the incoming HTTP request method and re-route it using the default UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter.

Solution: Write your own Spring Security Authentication Filter

If you want a Spring controller to process GET requests to /login, but Spring Security to intercept and process a POST to /login, then you’ll need to write your own Spring Security authentication filter. Here’s the idea:

public class MyFilter extends AbstractAuthenticationProcessingFilter {

  private static final String DEFAULT_FILTER_PROCESSES_URL = "/login";
  private static final String POST = "POST";

  public MyFilter () {

  public Authentication attemptAuthentication(HttpServletRequest request,
    HttpServletResponse response) throws AuthenticationException,
    IOException, ServletException {
    // You'll need to fill in the gaps here.  See the source of
    // UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter for a working implementation
    // you can leverage.

  public void doFilter(ServletRequest req, ServletResponse res,
    FilterChain chain) throws IOException, ServletException {
    final HttpServletRequest request = (HttpServletRequest) req;
    final HttpServletResponse response = (HttpServletResponse) res;
    if(request.getMethod().equals(POST)) {
      // If the incoming request is a POST, then we send it up
      // to the AbstractAuthenticationProcessingFilter.
      super.doFilter(request, response, chain);
    } else {
      // If it's a GET, we ignore this request and send it
      // to the next filter in the chain.  In this case, that
      // pretty much means the request will hit the /login
      // controller which will process the request to show the
      // login page.
      chain.doFilter(request, response);


Note the good stuff inside of doFilter(). If the incoming request method is a POST, then we send it up to our AbstractAuthenticationProcessingFilter to actually process the login. If it’s a GET, or any other HTTP request method for that matter, we simply send it to the next filter in the chain.

Finally, remember that you’ll need to define your own FORM_LOGIN_FILTER inside of your <security:http> Spring Security XML configuration to override the default /j_spring_security_check URL:

<security:http auto-config="false" use-expressions="true"
  <security:custom-filter position="FORM_LOGIN_FILTER" ref="MyFilter" />

<bean id="LoginUrlAuthenticationEntryPoint"
  <property name="loginFormUrl" value="/login" />


spring java http