March 5, 2010

Securing OBIEE Systems Management JMX for remote access

Filed under: jmx, obiee, security, systemsmanagement — rmoff @ 17:21


OBIEE’s Systems Management functionality exposes performance counters and the application’s configuration options through Java MBeans and optionally a protocol called JMX.

It’s extremely useful, and is documented pretty widely :

In this article I’m going to discuss the use of JMX to access these counters remotely, and a possible security issue that’s present in the BI Management Pack manual. The BI Management Pack is an add-on to Oracle’s Enterprise Manager / Grid Control for managing OBIEE, see Mark Rittman’s excellent guide on Oracle’s website.

Security Issue

To access Systems Management data remotely you need to start the JMX agent, having configured it for remote access first. However, if you are lazy, and/or follow the configuration in the BI Management Pack manual, and set com.sun.management.jmxremote.authenticate=false anyone can update your OBIEE configuration if they have network access to your server and a client for JMX (such as jconsole, part of standard java distribution) and time to guess the port number. This is not cool. Ever played with AUTHENTICATION=BYPASS_NQS?

The latest Java documentation (now with an Oracle logo!) does address this:

Caution – This configuration is insecure. Any remote user who knows (or guesses) your JMX port number and host name will be able to monitor and control your Java application and platform. While it may be acceptable for development, it is not recommended for production systems.

To be clear – if you’re not running the JMX Agent, this is all irrelevant. It’s only if you’re running it and haven’t thought through the consequences of the configuration.

Making the JMX Agent more secure

One way to secure the JMX agent is to use password authentication. The other is to set up SSL. The following demonstrates how to enable password authentication.

Please note – the following covers how to password-protect the JMX agent. It isn’t making it bullet-proof, and there’s no reason why a dictionary attack against it wouldn’t work as there’s no lockout. This also means it’s a good reason not to use a default username from the config files. Note also the following warning in the Java documentation: (if anyone can translate it into english I’d be grateful 😉 )

“WARNING: A potential security issue has been identified with password authentication for JMX remote connectors when the client obtains the remote connector from an insecure RMI registry (the default). If an attacker starts a bogus RMI registry on the target server before the legitmate one is started, then the attacker can steal clients’ passwords.”

To enable password authentication you need to edit three files.
The first file to edit is the agent script, runagent.sh. You’ll find this in $ORACLEBI_HOME/systemsmanagement.
By default, the file looks like this:

# this is a template of runagent.sh to be used on Unix.
# The installer will fill in JAVA_HOME, SAROOTDIR, and SATEMPDIR

export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jdk1.6.0_17
export SAROOTDIR=/app/oracle/product/obiee
export SADATADIR=/data
export SATEMPDIR=/data/tmp

java_cmd="${JAVA_HOME}/bin/java -Djava.library.path=${SAROOTDIR}/server/Bin -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote -classpath analytics-jmx.jar:lib/xmlparserv2.jar oracle.bi.analytics.management.StandardConsoleAgent"


To enable remote access to the JMX agent you change the java_cmd to the following:

java_cmd="${JAVA_HOME}/bin/java -Djava.library.path=${SAROOTDIR}/server/Bin -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote -Dcom.sun.man
agement.jmxremote.port=9980 -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote.authenticate=false -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote.ssl=false -
classpath analytics-jmx.jar:lib/xmlparserv2.jar oracle.bi.analytics.management.StandardConsoleAgent"

Note that jmxremote.authenticate is set to false. To secure the JMX agent you change it to true:

java_cmd="${JAVA_HOME}/bin/java -Djava.library.path=${SAROOTDIR}/server/Bin -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote.port=9980 -Dcom.sun.management.jmxremote.authenticate=true -classpath analytics-jmx.jar:lib/xmlparserv2.jar oracle.bi.analytics.management.StandardConsoleAgent"

Now note what JAVA_HOME is set to in the runagent.sh file (in the above example it’s /usr/java/jdk1.6.0_17). Navigate to this directory, and then to jre/lib/management. You should see these four files:


Create a copy of jmxremote.password.template to a file called jmxremote.password. Open the file and you’ll see two default users (or “roles”) as the documentation calls them.

$cp jmxremote.password.template jmxremote.password
$vi jmxremote.password
# Following are two commented-out entries.  The "measureRole" role has
# password "QED".  The "controlRole" role has password "R&D".
# monitorRole  QED
# controlRole   R&D

We’ll come back to this file in a moment. Now open jmxremote.access and you’ll see the access rights for the users (“roles”) in the password file are defined here:

#       "readonly" grants access to read attributes of MBeans.
#                   For monitoring, this means that a remote client in this
#                   role can read measurements but cannot perform any action
#                   that changes the environment of the running program.
#       "readwrite" grants access to read and write attributes of MBeans,
#                   to invoke operations on them, and to create or remove them.
#                   This access should be granted to only trusted clients,
#                   since they can potentially interfere with the smooth
#                   operation of a running program

So, now decide how you want to regulate access. I would strongly recommend that the only access available through remote JMX is readonly. Read/Write access to configuration needs to be through one auditable route, and I’d suggest this isn’t the best one. If that’s how we’re going to configure it, we set the files up like this:
(delete or comment out everything in the files first, having taken a backup first)

jmxobiee  S3cur3Passw0rd


jmxobiee readonly

Finally, secure access to the password file so that it’s only readable by the application owner ID:

chmod 600 jmxremote.password

Now, go back to $ORACLEBI_HOME/systemsmanagement, and start the JMX agent:

nohup ./runagent &

(the nohup and & make it run in the background so it doesn’t quit when you exit your session)

Having started your agent, you can go to JConsole and login to it remotely.

See the document here for the full details of securing JMX, including use of SSL and alternative password file locations.

Using JConsole

JConsole should be in your PATH, so enter JConsole from Start -> Run (Windows), or alternatively find it in the bin directory of your JAVA home directory (Windows/Linux/Unix).

To see the OBIEE counters click on MBeans tab :

and then expand the “Oracle BI Management” folder:

You’ll notice if you’re connected as a readonly user and try to change any values you get an error:

When OBIEE is running you get some very detailed performance counters:

(If you only see Configuration folders within BI then it’s because OBIEE isn’t running 🙂 )

One nice thing you can do is see a graph of the metrics, by clicking on Attributes in the left tree, and then double-clicking on the number you want to graph in the right pane:


I find the possibilities of the JMX interface to BI counters very interesting, and am surprised there is so little discussed about it. Maybe everyone else is merrily using it and feels no need to brag 😉

The counters in particular that BI Server exposes gives a peek under the covers of an application that has no detailing logging other than NQQuery.log. Using these counters through JMX we can look at things such as the current state of a connection pool, or the BI Server Cache.

Does anyone know of a freeware tool for collecting data from JMX? I know I could use the BI Management Pack but we don’t have it. JConsole or JManage give visualisation of the data realtime, but the latter is very rough around the edges.



  1. I think you’ve written a very interesting series of articles about exposing the BI counters with JMX. With the help of your articles, we’ve been able to start analyzing the counters on the BI server. We don’t have the BI Management pack either, so we are currently using Zenoss. There is an open-source version of this app that may interest you. Personally, I haven’t been crazy about the app so far, but it may be an option for you to at least consider.

    Comment by Matt — March 9, 2010 @ 17:25

    • Thanks, I’ll give it a look.
      What are your reservations about the app?

      Comment by rnm1978 — March 10, 2010 @ 14:35

      • Building graphs is a pretty cumbersome process. I also haven’t been able to figure out how to do much more than the default graph type. I should mention, though, that I have relatively little experience with the application.

        Also, just so you are aware you’ll want to grab the JMX plug-in for Zenoss, if you haven’t figured that out already.

        Comment by Matt — March 11, 2010 @ 23:28

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