Configuring Digest Authentication


Out of the box GeoServer REST and OGC services support authentication via HTTP Basic authentication. One of the major downsides of basic auth is that it sends user passwords in plain text. HTTP Digest authentication offers a more secure alternative that applies a cryptographic hash function to passwords before sending them over the network.

This tutorial walks through the process of setting up digest authentication.


This tutorial uses the curl utility to issue HTTP request that test authentication. Install curl before proceeding.


Any utility that supports both basic and digest authentication can be used in place of curl. Most modern web browsers support both types of authentication.

Configure the Digest authentication filter

  1. Start GeoServer and login to the web admin interface as the admin user.

  2. Click the Authentication link located under the Security section of the navigation sidebar.

  3. Scroll down to the Authentication Filters panel and click the Add new link.

  4. Click the Digest link.

  5. Fill in the fields of the settings form as follows:

    • Set Name to “digest”

    • Set User group service to “default”

  6. Save.

  7. Back on the authentication page scroll down to the Filter Chains panel.

  8. Select “Default” from the Request type drop down.

  9. Unselect the basic filter and select the digest filter. Position the the digest filter before the anonymous filter.

  10. Save.

Secure OGC service requests

In order to test the authentication settings configured in the previous section a service or resource must be first secured. The Default filter chain is the chain applied to all OGC service requests so a service security rule must be configured.

  1. From the GeoServer home page and click the Services link located under the Security section of the navigation sidebar.

  2. On the Service security page click the Add new rule link and add a catch all rule that secures all OGC service requests requiring the ROLE_ADMINISTRATOR role.

  3. Save.

Test a digest authentication login

  1. Ensure that basic authentication is disabled execute the following curl command:

    curl -v -u admin:geoserver -G "http://localhost:8080/geoserve/wfs?request=getcapabilities"

    The result should be a 401 response signaling that authentication is required. The output should look something like the following:

    * About to connect() to localhost port 8080 (#0)
    *   Trying connected
    * Connected to localhost ( port 8080 (#0)
    * Server auth using Basic with user 'admin'
    > GET /geoserver/wfs?request=getcapabilities HTTP/1.1
    > Authorization: Basic YWRtaW46Z2Vvc2VydmVy
    > User-Agent: curl/7.19.7 (universal-apple-darwin10.0) libcurl/7.19.7 OpenSSL/0.9.8r zlib/1.2.3
    > Host: localhost:8080
    > Accept: */*
    < HTTP/1.1 401 Full authentication is required to access this resource
    < Set-Cookie: JSESSIONID=1dn2bi8qqu5qc;Path=/geoserver
    < WWW-Authenticate: Digest realm="GeoServer Realm", qop="auth", nonce="MTMzMzQzMDkxMTU3MjphZGIwMWE4MTc1NmRiMzI3YmFiODhmY2NmZGQ2MzEwZg=="
    < Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
    < Content-Length: 1491
    < Server: Jetty(6.1.8)
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1"/>
    <title>Error 401 Full authentication is required to access this resource</title>
  2. Execute the same command but specify the --digest option to tell curl to use digest authentication rather than basic authentication:

    curl --digest -v -u admin:geoserver -G "http://localhost:8080/geoserver/wfs?request=getcapabilities"

    The result should be a successful authentication and contain the normal WFS capabilities response.