Personal tools
You are here: Home / OSCAR EMR version 12.x / 4.0 Developers / 4.2 Installation 12.x / 4.2.3 Security Hardening

4.2.3 Security Hardening

In the modern environment, production use of Oscar demands basic security hardening.


The basic install is adequate for a local instance of Oscar for development work or for a local production setup (eg single laptop/tablet).  Once you are accessing the Oscar server from other machines there are certain security considerations.  General firewall and similar issues are beyond the scope of this document.  The following are specific issues for running Oscar on a network and/or the internet.  They assume a Linux installation, but almost identical instructions apply for other operating systems.

Document Version History

  • v1.0 – initial public release on – May 9, 2010
  • v1.1 – corrections to Tomcat configuration – June 2, 2010
  • v1.2 – ported to – June 26, 2010
  • v1.3 – updated for version 10_06 – July 1, 2010
  • v1.4 – added screen shot – Aug 23, 2010
  • v1.5 – added amendment to allow local http access to drugref – Aug 31, 2010
  • v1.6 – added whole disk encryption – June 19, 2011
  • v1.7 – dropped SQL to expire default credentials as this is now in the install scripts – Aug 30, 2011
  • v1.8 – added information to support printing and faxing on non standard ports – Sept 7, 2012
This document is copyright by Peter Hutten-Czapski 2010-2012 © under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License


  1. Preface
    1. Document Version History
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Level One Defenses:
    1. Set up Tomcat to use SSL connections
      1. Prepare a Certificate
      2. Edit Tomcat Configuration
  4. Level Two Defenses: Disk Encryption
  5. Level Three Defenses: Secure SSH
  6. Level Four Defences: Harden Tomcat 6
    1. Prune Tomcat of Unused Resources
    2. Hide the Tomcat Version
    3. Set permissions on Tomcat
    4. Use Client Side Authentication (untested)


It is assumed that
  1. You have the Ubuntu 10.4 LTS "Lucid" alternate installation CD
  2. You have a basic level of Linux knowledge
  3. You can open a Linux terminal
  4. You can use a Linux text editor
  5. You can cut and paste EXACTLY the following instructions
NOTE: Firefox will copy with Control+C while a linux terminal requires Shift+Control+V for paste

Level One Defences: SSL

Level One Defenses are necessary if you do not expose Oscar to the internet but have a network where a machine can be compromised.

TIP: New installs of Oscar 12_1 Build 48 and above can be configured to automatically setup SSL connections for Oscar

Set up Tomcat to use SSL connections

SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, is a technology which allows web browsers and web servers to communicate over a secured connection. This has several security advantages

  • The sever presents authentication to the user as a "Certificate", as proof the site is who and what it claims to be.
  • The data being sent is encrypted by one side, transmitted, then decrypted by the other side before processing
You can set up SSL connection via Tomcat with the instructions below.  If you need lower port numbers or need to run a full web server you can set up SSL with Apache (see Installing Oscar to run on port 443)

a) Prepare a Certificate

Use the Java keytool to generate a key for tomcat using standard RSA encryption.  Don't use the password changeit that is shown but do use the same password for both the keypass and the storepass for Tomcat 6 or earlier. 

sudo $JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool -genkey -alias tomcat -validity 3650 -keyalg RSA -keystore /etc/tomcat6/.keystore -keypass changeit -storepass changeit

You will be prompted for your name (your server IP or domain),  organisational unit (clinic), organisation (.),  city, province and country. The result is a hidden .keystore file in the /etc/tomcat6 directory. 

b) Edit Tomcat Configuration

The final step is to configure the Connector for the Tomcat 6 instance.

sudo nano $CATALINA_BASE/conf/server.xml

Add the following code

<Connector port="8443" protocol="HTTP/1.1" 
keystorePass="changeit"   />
Review server.xml for connectors that you are not using.  Oscar needs only need the connector you defined in the section above.  If you followed the default instructions, then drugref 2/3 only needs to be accessed locally on the server, so limit the connections to the local address which is called internally.  For drugref 2/3 it should also be configured to transmit UTF-8 encoded data to properly handle drug doses.   
<Connector port="8080" protocol="HTTP/1.1" 

Remove or comment out the following default connector that is less secure, unless you need it (You might, usually for integration with the native webserver, eg the Apache Http server).

<Connector port="8009" protocol="AJP/1.3" redirectPort="8443" /

 Now restart Tomcat

sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat6 restart

If you have installed Oscar locally with the instructions in 6.1 you should be able to login to Oscar at https://localhost:8443/oscar otherwise substitute localhost with the IP for the Oscar server. 

Note that the browser will be concerned about the validity of the Certificate (after all anyone could have signed it!) so you will have to add an exception for the browser to let you access the Oscar webpages.  This varies by browser.  For Firefox 3.x click on "I Understand the Risks" > Add Exemption > Confirm Security Exemption

Add Exception

Troubleshooting and Tweaks

If you mess up the keytool and want to try again you will need to delete the tomcat keytool that you stored

sudo keytool -delete -alias tomcat -keystore /etc/tomcat6/.keystore

If you need to extract the public key for export to say /etc/tomcat6/tomcat.cer

sudo $JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool -export -alias tomcat -file /etc/tomcat6/tomcat.cer -keystore /etc/tomcat6/.keystore -storepass changeit

Oscar printing to pdf and faxing assumes that you have configured https on port 8443.   You can configure other ports to work (eg 88443) by adding the following property value to (or similar named file)


Level Two Defences Full Disc Encryption

An option in the "alternate cd" installation of Ubuntu is to encrypt the entire hard drive.  This will make it very difficult for a thief to access your data even if they physically steal the server (physical theft or access is usually enough to steal data, even in linux)

Note that full disc encryption doesn't protect you from: "Cold Boot Attacks Against Disk Encryption"or "Weak password brute force."

To set up full disc encryption in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS you use the alternate cd and select full disc encryption as below

Full Disc Encryption

Level Three Defences Secure SSH

Most Linux servers are remotely managed by SSH login.  Thus the most common type of attack is by trying to login to your ip on port 22.

Disable SSH root login,  and require a key for SSH access to the box

vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

And add following entries

PermitRootLogin no
PasswordAuthentication yes

That still has your port dealing with login attempts that the box has to (eventually) deny.  Install denyhosts to keep them out the door.

sudo apt-get install denyhosts
it installs, runs, check the logs and updates      /etc/hosts.deny   with a blocked address.   The hackers can only attack a handful of times instead of DOSing the server hundreds of times.

Level Four Defences Harden Tomcat 6

If you want to access Oscar from the Internet it is probably best if you form a tunnel and use SSH access to Oscar

If you actually have to expose your production box to the raw Internet then you should further reduce the ways that your box will be attacked.  First remember that the more services that are running on the server the more ways it can be attacked.  If possible disable other deamons and services or remove to another machine.  Then make sure that Tomcat has the least number of loose ends available to be targeted.

Prune Tomcat of Unused Resources

Remove extraneous Tomcat resources:

rm -rf $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/js-examples  $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/servlet-example $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/webdav \
$CATALINA_HOME/webapps/tomcat-docs  $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/balancer  $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/ROOT/admin $CATALINA_HOME/webapps/examples
If you installed the Manager application by mistake remove it unless you really plan to use it!

apt-get --purge remove tomcat6-admin

Hide the Tomcat Version

Remove the tomcat version and date information from that which the server sends

sudo jar xf catalina.jar org/apache/catalina/util/

Navigate to the util directory that was created and open in an editor

cd org/apache/Catalina/util
sudo vi
Update the following attributes from something like the defaults below to anything else...

server.number= Tomcat/6.0
server.built=Jul 8 2009 11:40:35
Update the catalina.jar with the modified file.

sudo jar uf catalina.jar org/apache/catalina/util/

Set permissions on Tomcat

Many of Tomcats internal files are sensitive and access should be limited to the tomcat6 user (and root)
sudo chown tomcat6.tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME sudo chown tomcat6.tomcat6 $CATALINA_BASE sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/logs sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/temp sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/bin sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/webapps sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/catalina.policy sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 /etc/tomcat6/policy.d sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/context.xml sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/server.xml sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/tomcat-users.xml sudo chown tomcat6:tomcat6 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/web.xml sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/web.xml sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/tomcat-users.xml sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/server.xml sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/context.xml sudo chmod 770 /etc/tomcat6/policy.d sudo chmod 770 $CATALINA_HOME/conf/catalina.policy sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf/ sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/webapps sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/bin sudo chmod o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/temp sudo chmod o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/logs sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME/conf sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_BASE sudo chmod g-w,o-rwx $CATALINA_HOME

Use Client Side Authentication (untested)

We usually use SSL technology just to encrypt traffic to and from the server.  However the server can be also be configured to ask for authentication of the client (user)

sudo vi $CATALINA_HOME/conf/server.xml
Adjust the following code to have clientAuth="true"

<Connector port="8443" protocol="HTTP/1.1"
maxThreads="200" scheme="https" secure="true"
keystorePass="changeit"   />

To create a keystore named client-keystore.jks that contains a client certificate named client.cer, generate the client certificate.

sudo $JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool -genkey -alias client-alias -keyalg RSA -keypass changeit -storepass changeit -keystore keystore.jks
Export the generated client certificate into the file client.cer.

sudo $JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool -export -alias client-alias -storepass changeit -file client.cer -keystore keystore.jks
Add the certificate to the trust-store file $J2EE_HOME/domains/domain1/config/cacerts.jks. Run keytool from the directory where you created the keystore and client certificate. Use the following parameters:

sudo $JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool\bin\keytool -import -v -trustcacerts  -alias client-alias -file client.cer -alias client-alias -file client.cer -keystore <J2EE_HOME>/domains/domain1/config/cacerts.jks -keypass changeit -storepass changeit

Document Actions