Trustwave SpiderLabs Exposes Unique Cybersecurity Threats in the Public Sector. Learn More

Trustwave SpiderLabs Exposes Unique Cybersecurity Threats in the Public Sector. Learn More

Managed Detection & Response

Eliminate active threats with 24/7 threat detection, investigation, and response.

Co-Managed SOC (SIEM)

Maximize your SIEM investment, stop alert fatigue, and enhance your team with hybrid security operations support.

Advisory & Diagnostics

Advance your cybersecurity program and get expert guidance where you need it most.

Penetration Testing

Test your physical locations and IT infrastructure to shore up weaknesses before exploitation.

Database Security

Prevent unauthorized access and exceed compliance requirements.

Email Security

Stop email threats others miss and secure your organization against the #1 ransomware attack vector.

Digital Forensics & Incident Response

Prepare for the inevitable with 24/7 global breach response in-region and available on-site.

Firewall & Technology Management

Mitigate risk of a cyberattack with 24/7 incident and health monitoring and the latest threat intelligence.

Offensive Security
Solutions to maximize your security ROI
Microsoft Exchange Server Attacks
Stay protected against emerging threats
Rapidly Secure New Environments
Security for rapid response situations
Securing the Cloud
Safely navigate and stay protected
Securing the IoT Landscape
Test, monitor and secure network objects
Why Trustwave
About Us
Awards and Accolades
Trustwave SpiderLabs Team
Trustwave Fusion Security Operations Platform
Trustwave Security Colony
Technology Alliance Partners
Key alliances who align and support our ecosystem of security offerings
Trustwave PartnerOne Program
Join forces with Trustwave to protect against the most advance cybersecurity threats
SpiderLabs Blog

ModSecurity for Java - BETA Testers Needed

12703_f48dcc8f-fb82-4311-99bd-c79bf4b821238087_172d5223-2367-4514-9d70-b5b5eb1f3696Over the course of the summer of 2013, the ModSecurity team participated in Google's Summer of Code (GSoC) program through OWASP. We helped by mentoring Mihai Pitu who developed a port of ModSecurity for Java!

The main problem this project solves is that you will no longer have to front-end your Java app servers with a reverse proxy in order to gain ModSecurity protections! ModSecurity
standalone code uses JNI to hook into Java servers (Tomcat, Spring, Stuts, etc...) as a Servlet Filter
. We need BETA testers to help us ensure that the code is working properly. Please see the steps below and send us feedback.

Installation Steps

Step 1: Compile ModSecurity native library

Install required packages for compilation. For example, on Debian/Ubuntu like systems:

sudo apt-get install g++ make automake autoconf libtool

Install required dependent packages:

sudo apt-get install libxml2 libxml2-dev libxml2-utils libaprutil1 libaprutil1-dev apache2-prefork-dev

The native libraries (.so, .dll, etc.) needed for ModSecurity for Java are:

  1. zlib1 (Windows only)
  2. libxml2
  3. pcre
  4. libapr-1
  5. libapriconv-1 (Windows only)
  6. libaprutil-1
  7. ModSecurityJNI (JNI wrapper for mod_security code)

These native libraries are used by the ModSecurityFilter.

Download mod_security source code from GitHub, compile and install:

git clone
cd ModSecurity/
./configure --enable-standalone-module --enable-java-module

Copy compiled library in a convenient folder:

sudo cp ./java/.libs/ /usr/lib/

The file is the connector that plugs the "standalone" ModSecurity code into the Java application as a Filter.

Step 2: Add ModSecurity Java/Class Files to the App

To use the ModSecurity filter in your Java web application, you will need to copy either the source .java files or the compiled .class files into your application.

Scenario 1: Add ModSecurity source java files to application and create WAR

If you would like to add ModSecurity into your application and create a WAR file, then you should copy the source files from the ModSecurity/java/ModSecurityTestApp/src/java/org directory into your app directory structure and then create the WAF file:

# pwd
# ls -R
apache modsecurity



./apache/commons/fileupload: package.html

[root@localhost org]#

Scenario 2: Add ModSecurity compiled class files to an already compiled app

If you already have a compiled app and you would like to add in ModSecurity filtering without recompiling a new WAF file, you can instead use the compiled .class files. Simple unpack the ModSecurityTestApp.war file and copy the files into the running app's directory structure.

# jar xvf ModSecurityTestApp.war
created: META-INF/
created: WEB-INF/
created: WEB-INF/classes/
created: WEB-INF/classes/org/
created: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/
created: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/
created: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/
created: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/
extracted: META-INF/context.xml
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/DefaultFileItem.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/DefaultFileItemFactory.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/DeferredFileOutputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/DiskFileUpload.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileItem.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileItemFactory.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUpload.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUploadBase$InvalidContentTypeException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUploadBase$SizeLimitExceededException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUploadBase$UnknownSizeException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUploadBase.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/FileUploadException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/MultipartStream$IllegalBoundaryException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/MultipartStream$MalformedStreamException.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/MultipartStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/ThresholdingOutputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/apache/commons/fileupload/package.html
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/ModSecurity.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/ModSecurityFilter.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest$1.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest$BodyDiskServletInputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest$BodyMemoryServletInputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest$InterceptServletInputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest$Parameter.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletRequest.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpServletResponse.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsHttpTransaction.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsOutputStream.class
extracted: WEB-INF/classes/org/modsecurity/MsWriter.class
extracted: WEB-INF/web.xml
extracted: help.html
extracted: index.jsp
# cp -R /tmp/ModSecurity/java/ModSecurityTestApp/dist/WEB-INF/classes/org/* /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/webapps/WebGoat/WEB-INF/classes/org

Step 3: Activate the ModSecurityFilter in web.xml

The next step add the following entry for the filter tag in your web.xml file:

<!-- Path to the main configuration file of ModSecurity. You can activate the core
rules by including in modsecurity.conf file:
Include modsecurity_crs_10_setup.conf
Include activated_rules\*.conf
OPTIONAL parameters for loading native libraries from absolute paths. This is an alternitive to specifying
-Djava.library.path=/path/to/libs/ variable to the JVM which

zlib1 and libapriconv-1 are Windows only libraries

Step 4: Configure ModSecurity Settings

In the web.xml file, you added a path to the main modsecurity.conf file holding directives such as SecRuleEngine, SecAuditEngine, etc... You should update this file as needed for your environment.

# head /root/modsecurity-apache_2.7.2/modsecurity.conf
# -- Rule engine initialization ----------------------------------------------

# Enable ModSecurity, attaching it to every transaction. Use detection
# only to start with, because that minimises the chances of post-installation
# disruption.
SecRuleEngine DetectionOnly

Step 5: Add in Rule Files

The ModSecurity filter knows how to handle "Apache Include" directives in the "conf" param value. This means that if you want to create your own rule files or utilize the OWASP ModSecurity CRS, you should add appropriate Include directives to the main modsecurity.conf file:

# tail /root/modsecurity-apache_2.7.2/modsecurity.conf
# Specify your Unicode Code Point.
# This mapping is used by the t:urlDecodeUni transformation function
# to properly map encoded data to your language. Properly setting
# these directives helps to reduce false positives and negatives.
#SecUnicodeCodePage 20127
#SecUnicodeMapFile unicode.mapping

Include /root/owasp-modsecurity-crs/modsecurity_crs_10_setup.conf
Include /root/owasp-modsecurity-crs/base_rules/*.conf

Step 6: Start Java Server and Confirm ModSecurity Initialization

# /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/bin/
Using CATALINA_BASE: /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42
Using CATALINA_HOME: /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42
Using CATALINA_TMPDIR: /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/temp
Using JRE_HOME: /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.6.0-openjdk
Using CLASSPATH: /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/bin/bootstrap.jar:/opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/bin/tomcat-juli.jar
# cat /opt/apache-tomcat-7.0.42/logs/localhost*.log
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity for Java (STABLE)/2.7.5 ( configured.
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity: APR compiled version="1.3.9"; loaded version="1.3.9"
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity: PCRE compiled version="7.8 "; loaded version="7.8 2008-09-05"
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity: LUA compiled version="Lua 5.1"
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity: LIBXML compiled version="2.7.6"
Sep 27, 2013 6:35:18 PM org.apache.catalina.core.ApplicationContext log
INFO: ModSecurity started.

Step 7: Test Rules

The next step is to send some example attacks to your application to ensure that the it is working properly. If you send some XSS attacks for instance, you should see logs similar to the following in the Tomcat logs directory:


Step 8: Verify Audit Logging

In addition to the short, 1-line alert messages sent to the Tomcat logs, ModSecurity will also generate appropriate Audit log entries depending on your configuration. You can review the corresponding Audit log entry for your test request(s) to see fully request/response payloads:




Bonus Testing: BeanShell scripting with ModSecurity

You can use BeanShell scripts in SecRule ModSecurity directives using the exec action. First you need to put the bsh.jar file (which can be downloaded from into the current directory of your server (for example $CATALINA_HOME/bin in Tomcat). An example of an exec can be the following:

# Alert and Block based on Anomaly Scores
SecRule TX:ANOMALY_SCORE "@gt 0" \
"chain,phase:2,id:'981176',t:none,deny,log,msg:'Inbound Anomaly Score Exceeded (Total Score: %{TX.ANOMALY_SCORE}, SQLi=%{TX.SQL_INJECTION_SCORE}, XSS=%{TX.XSS_SCORE}): Last Matched Message: %{tx.msg}',logdata:'Last Matched Data: %{matched_var}',setvar:tx.inbound_tx_msg=%{tx.msg},setvar:tx.inbound_anomaly_score=%{tx.anomaly_score}"
SecRule TX:ANOMALY_SCORE "@ge %{tx.inbound_anomaly_score_level}" chain
SecRule TX:ANOMALY_SCORE_BLOCKING "@streq on" chain
SecRule TX:/^\d+\-/ "(.*)" "setenv:block_session=1,exec:/usr/local/apache/conf/beanshell_script.bsh"

The environment variable set in the SecRule can be accessed in BeanShell scripts using some pseudo-code like this to instruct the app to block the current session:

import org.owasp.webgoat.session.WebSession;
if (block_session != null) {
session.setAttribute(BLOCKED, "true");


We encourage Java application server users to test out the new ModSecurity version and to give us feedback on any issues found. If you find any bugs, please contact through one of the following:


Latest SpiderLabs Blogs

Important Security Defenses to Help Your CISO Sleep at Night

This is Part 13 in my ongoing project to cover 30 cybersecurity topics in 30 weekly blog posts. The full series can be found here.

Read More

2024 Public Sector Threat Landscape: Trustwave Threat Intelligence Briefing and Mitigation Strategies

Trustwave SpiderLabs’ 2024 Public Sector Threat Landscape: Trustwave Threat Intelligence Briefing and Mitigation Strategies report details the security issues facing public sector security teams as...

Read More

How to Create the Asset Inventory You Probably Don't Have

This is Part 12 in my ongoing project to cover 30 cybersecurity topics in 30 weekly blog posts. The full series can be found here.

Read More