Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hurdles #3 - Apache Pivot - Finding Request IP Address

Hurdles article number and still working with Apache Pivot, this time we are looking at the RESTful services provided by the Pivot libraries. The Pivot WebService libraries are quite handy, they provide a nice, clean wrapper to work with that abstracts out a lot of the complexity around serialization, HTTPServlet objects, and HTTPRequest objects.

Unfortunately there is one, nasty flaw with the v2.0.2 libraries that I have come across so far. And that is the HTTPRequest object has been so thoroughly abstracted away that you cannot access it, or much of the information included within it directly.

The provided QueryServlet implementation discards information such as: the remoteAddr and remoteHost values. So there is no way to retrieve the requesting IP address if you want to do simple things like validating the source request location.

The reason I discovered this issue in the first place is that I wanted to add a nice little authenticated cache component to my service. Nothing complex, I have already established a verified sessionkey, but in order to negate simple man-in-the-middle attacks that involve sessionkey stealing I wanted to add a secondary validation step that associated a sessionkey to a source IP address. Like I said, very simple (and certainly not foolproof), but my application doesn't involve national security. It's just a quick two-factor authentication routine is all I wanted.

Well, no such luck. In order to resolve this issue I had to resort to extending the org.apache.pivot.web.server.QueryServlet class with my own modifications to the service method and then extend that class with my actual Servlet implementations.

Fortunately GrepCode is kind enough to provide us with the source of the QueryServlet class to use as a starting point. So here is a QueryServletExt class that I created that parses the remoteAddr and remoteHost values into properties that can then be accessed via getRemoteHost and getRemoteAddr methods.

public abstract class QueryServletExt extends QueryServlet {
private transient ThreadLocal<String> remoteAddr = new ThreadLocal<String>();
private transient ThreadLocal<String> remoteHost = new ThreadLocal<String>();

   protected void service(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)
       throws IOException, ServletException {
       // Get client's IP address
       String ipAddress = request.getRemoteAddr();
       // Get client's hostname
       String hostname = request.getRemoteHost();
       super.service(request,  response);

public String getRemoteAddr() {
return remoteAddr.get();

public String getRemoteHost() {
return remoteHost.get();

This piece of code doesn't bring all the attributes of the HTTPRequest into your QueryServlet, but at least it will provide a template for how to include whatever pieces you do need in your code.

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