Middle Tier Changes and Upgrades in SAS 9.4 M4

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Since the SAS 9.4 M2 release in December 2014, there have been several refinements and updates to the middle tier that are of interest to installers and administrators. In this blog, I’m going to summarize them for you. What I’m describing here is available in the newest SAS release (9.4 M4). I’ll describe them at a high level, and refer you to the documentation for details and how to implement some of these changes.

Security enhancements

Preserve your TLS Customizations:
For security purposes, many of you will manually add TLS configurations, either to the SAS Web Server, the SAS Web Application Server, or both. In addition, you may prefer to use your own reverse proxy server (such as IIS), either instead of, or in addition to, the SAS Web Server. Before the 9.4 M4 release, when upgrading or applying maintenance, you had to undo these custom configurations, perform the upgrade, and then apply the custom configurations again. Now, the upgrade will preserve them, making the process much easier. See Middle-Tier Security in the Middle Tier Administration Guide, Fourth Edition for full details.

Newer versions of OpenSSL are now provided (see doc for specific version numbers):
A Java upgrade enables enforcement of TLSv2. TLS is now considered the security standard for https connections, (SSL is obsolete) and this can be enforced with configurations to the SAS Web Server and the SAS Web Application Server. The new version of Java SAS is using (Ver 1.7+) now allows for this. One important thing to be aware of is that certificates are completely independent of which protocol you are using, and therefore any certificates you may have been using with SSL should work equally with newer TLS protocols.

Management of the trusted CA (Certificate Authority) bundle:
SAS now has a trusted CA bundle, that can be managed by the SAS Deployment Manager, in a new location:  SASHome/SASSecurityCertificateFramework/1.1/cacerts/. The CA certificates can be root certificates, intermediate certificates, or both. Here’s what the menu item looks like:

Middle Tier Changes and Upgrades in SAS 9.4 M4

Previously it was necessary to manually add your root/intermediate certificates to the Java truststore “cacerts,” located inside the JRE; now it’s done through the new interface. If you are on Windows, you must also add trusted CAs to the Windows store (as before), which will make them available to any browsers running there. This is documented at http://www.sqlservermart.com/HowTo/Windows_Import_Certificate.aspx and elsewhere online.

Security Support for SAS Web Applications – white list external sites, and HTTP request methods:
For added security, web sites hosting SAS web applications can now maintain a white list of external URLs that are allowed to connect in. This provides protection against Cross Site Request Forgeries, and other vulnerabilities. This is what the prompt looks like in the SDW:

Middle Tier Changes and Upgrades in SAS 9.4 M4

HTTP request methods can also be specified as allowed/not allowed. The list of URLs can be specified during installation in the SDW (shown above), or using the SAS Management Console. You can disable whitelist checking entirely, and you can add a “blacklist” or specific sites to always block. You can also block based on request method–ie, GET, POST, PUT, etc. See the Middle Tier Administration Guide for details.

Forward Proxy Configuration:
You can now set up SAS web applications to forward external URL requests through a proxy–here it’s called a forward proxy server. Many organizations do this behind their firewalls. See details for how to set this up in the administration guide.

Other miscellaneous changes:
As an administrator you can now force users to Log Off using SAS Web Administration Console.    You can also send emails to one or more users from the same window.  This is what the menu looks like:

Middle Tier Changes and Upgrades in SAS 9.4 M4

Faster start-up time for the SAS Web Application Server

JMS Broker (ActiveMQ) now uses Version 5.12.2 (fixed bugs).

SAS Web Server now uses version 5.5.2 and includes an updated mod_proxy_connect module for TLS tunneling.

References

SAS 9.4 Intelligence Platform: Middle Tier Administration Guide, Fourth Edition

Encryption in SAS 9.4, Sixth Edition

 

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About Author

Dave Naden

SAS Technical Training Consultant

Dave has been a SAS employee for 16 years, first as a consultant and web developer. The last 10 years, he has served as a technical trainer for other SAS employees, specializing in web technologies, SAS middle tier, and more recently, SAS Environment Manager.

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