Retrieve User Information in Spring Security

1. Overview

This article will show how to retrieve the user details in Spring Security.

The current authenticated user is available thorough a number of different mechanisms in Spring – let’s cover the most common solution – programmatic access, first.

2. Get the User in a Bean

The simplest way to retrieve the currently authenticated principal is via a static call to the SecurityContextHolder:

Authentication authentication = SecurityContextHolder.getContext().getAuthentication();
String currentPrincipalName = authentication.getName();

An improvement to this snippet is first checking if there is an authenticate user before trying to access it:

Authentication authentication = SecurityContextHolder.getContext().getAuthentication();
if (!(authentication instanceof AnonymousAuthenticationToken)) {
    String currentUserName = authentication.getName();
    return currentUserName;
}

There are of course downsides to having a static call like this – decreased testability of the code being one of the more obvious. Instead, we will explore alternative solutions for this very common requirement.

3. Get the User in a Controller

In a @Controller annotated bean, there are additional options – the principal can be defined directly as a method argument and it will be correctly resolved by the framework:

import java.security.Principal;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMethod;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;

@Controller
public class SecurityController {

    @RequestMapping(value = "/username", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    @ResponseBody
    public String currentUserName(Principal principal) {
        return principal.getName();
    }
}

Alternatively, the authentication token can also be used:

import org.springframework.security.core.Authentication;
import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMethod;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;

@Controller
public class SecurityController {

    @RequestMapping(value = "/username", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    @ResponseBody
    public String currentUserName(Authentication authentication) {
        return authentication.getName();
    }
}

The API of the Authentication class is very open so that the framework remains as flexible as possible. Because of this, the Spring Security principal can only be retrieved as an Object and needs to be casted to the correct UserDetails instance:

UserDetails userDetails = (UserDetails) authentication.getPrincipal();
System.out.println("User has authorities: " + userDetails.getAuthorities());

And finally, directly from the HTTP request:

import java.security.Principal;

import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;

import org.springframework.stereotype.Controller;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMethod;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.ResponseBody;

@Controller
public class SecurityController {

    @RequestMapping(value = "/username", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    @ResponseBody
    public String currentUserNameSimple(HttpServletRequest request) {
        Principal principal = request.getUserPrincipal();
        return principal.getName();
    }
}

4. Get the User via a Custom Interface

To fully leverage the Spring dependency injection and be able to retrieve the authentication everywhere, not just in @Controller beans, we need to hide the static access behind a simple facade:

public interface IAuthenticationFacade {
    Authentication getAuthentication();
}
@Component
public class AuthenticationFacade implements IAuthenticationFacade {

    @Override
    public Authentication getAuthentication() {
        return SecurityContextHolder.getContext().getAuthentication();
    }
}

The facade exposes the Authentication object while hiding the static state and keeping the code decoupled and fully testable:

@Controller
public class SecurityController {
    @Autowired
    private IAuthenticationFacade authenticationFacade;

    @RequestMapping(value = "/username", method = RequestMethod.GET)
    @ResponseBody
    public String currentUserNameSimple() {
        Authentication authentication = authenticationFacade.getAuthentication();
        return authentication.getName();
    }
}

5. Get the User in JSP

The currently authenticated principal can also be access in JSP pages, by leveraging the spring security taglib support. First, we need to define the tag in the page:

<%@ taglib prefix="security" uri="http://www.springframework.org/security/tags" %>

Next, we can refer to the principal:

<security:authorize access="isAuthenticated()">
    authenticated as <security:authentication property="principal.username" /> 
</security:authorize>

6. Conclusion

This article showed how to get the user information in a Spring application, starting with the common static access mechanism, followed with several better ways to inject the principal.

The implementation of these examples can be found in the github project – this is an Eclipse based project, so it should be easy to import and run as it is. When the project runs locally, the homepage html can be accessed at:

http://localhost:8080/spring-security-rest-custom/foos/1

I usually post about Security on Google+ - you can follow me there:

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  • Vinay P

    Thanks :)

  • Jayakumar Jayaraman

    Hi Baeldung

    Thanks for the article.

    Can you please clarify the reverse of this…. i.e where to set the Authentication object after successfull login ?

    I have created a custom AuthenticationProvider. Should I add the authentication object in this class after successful login , as below ?

    SecurityContextHolder.getContext().setAuthentication(usernamePasswordAuthenticationToken);

    Thanks
    Jay

    • http://www.baeldung.com/ Eugen Paraschiv

      Glad you enjoyed the article.
      There is actually no direct reverse of this – Spring Security handles the process of storing the Authentication object, so in most cases, you won’t need to do that yourself. You can check out my article about implementing security for a REST service and also the Spring Security reference to better understand how to do this.
      Cheers,
      Eugen.

      • Jayakumar Jayaraman

        Sure thanks