Jenkins : Making your plugin behave in secured Jenkins

If you are just getting started with writing a Jenkins plugin, then this is not something you need to worry about right now. Come back to this page when you got something working.

Security Architecture of Jenkins

Jenkins has a security mechanism in place so that the deployer of Jenkins can control who gets access to what part of Jenkins. The key components of this mechanism are the followings:

  • Permission, which represents an activity that requires a security privilege. This is usually a verb, like "configure", "administer", "tag", etc.
  • Authentication, which represents the current user and roles (AKA groups) he/she has. When a thread runs in Jenkins, it always carry an Authentication object implicitly, which represents the user that the thread is serving. (If a thread is a part of Jenkins and not serving any user request, like Executors, then it carries an almighty "system" Authentication object.)
  • ACL, which decides whether the Authentication object carried by the current thread has the given permission or not.
  • AccessControlled, which is implemented by an object who owns ACL.

So the overall picture is this; various objects in Jenkins (such as Job, Jenkins, User, View, etc.) are AccessControlled objects, and therefore they own ACLs. The code is then written in such a way that before a security-sensitive operation is performed, it checks ACL.

For example, the following code is taken from the Jenkins class, which lets you shut down the JVM by requesting http://server/jenkins/exit. You can easily imagine that in a security sensitive environment you don't want random users to invoke this, so it makes sure that the caller has the "ADMINISTER" permission of the system before proceeding to do the work:

     * Shutdown the system.
     * @since 1.161
    public void doExit( StaplerRequest req, StaplerResponse rsp ) throws IOException {
        LOGGER.severe(String.format("Shutting down VM as requested by %s from %s",
                getAuthentication(), req.getRemoteAddr()));
        PrintWriter w = rsp.getWriter();
        w.println("Shutting down");


If the deployer configured no security mechanism, the checkPermission method simply becomes no-op. The deployer could configure matrix-based ACL, in which case every AccessControlled object will share the single ACL (whose contents is controlled by the configuration done by the deployer.) In more elaborate case, each AccessControlled object might have different ACLs. In all cases, this is the code you need to write.

What do plugins need to do?

  • Identify the operations in code that can be potentially security sensitive. This includes anything that can change state in the server. These methods should perform checkPermission.
  • Identify the nearest AccessControlled objects to check permissions with. If your 'this' object is already access-controlled, then that's obviously it. Otherwise, try to look for the nearest logical ancestor. If all else fails, use the Jenkins singleton.
  • Identify the Permission object to use. If you extend from one of the ExtensionPoint-s, they might already define some permission objects as public static final fields in them. If you are defining a sub-system of a substantial size, you might want to create new Permission objects (see the end of the View class for this example.) If you don't know, you can use Jenkins.ADMINISTER as a starting point.

With these three information, you can now insert:

AccessControlled ac = ... do the step 2 above ...
Permission p = ... do the step 3 above ...

Checking permissions in Jelly files

If your entire HTML page rendered by Jelly needs to be protected, you can use the attributes of the <l:layout> tag, like this:

<l:layout permission="${app.ADMINISTER}">

The permission is always checked against the "it" object, so that needs to be an AccessControlled object.

Disabling a part of page rendering if the user doesn't have a permission

Sometimes you'd like to change the page rendering, based on the user's permissions. For example, if the user cannot delete a project, it doesn't make sense to show a link to do that. To do this, write Jelly like this:

<j:if test="${h.hasPermission(app.ADMINISTER)}">

This is not to be confused with the checkPermission invocation in your operation. Users can still hit the URL directly, so you still need to protect the operation itself, in addition to disabling the UI rendering