By Marone: November 2020 | last update: December 2020

Secure API with spring method security


In all previous spring security articles we used HttpSecurity to restrict http requests. In this article we will explore another way to use spring security in order to secure spring boot REST API.

The spring security provides a great feature called "Method security", which allows us to use annotations like @PreAuthorize or @Secured to secure API's in fine-grained manner.

@PreAuthorize vs @Secured

There is a lot of stuff about this topic, but the significant difference is the fact that PreAuthorize supports Spring Expression Language (SpEL), which is very powerful.

What we need

Keycloak 8.0.1
Java 11
Maven 3.x
curl 7.65
jq 1.5

Maven dependencies

Additionally to spring security and web dependencies we need also the keycloak spring boot adapter, keycloak-spring-boot-starter.


@KeycloakConfiguration provides other Spring security configuration such as @EnableWebSecurity, @Configuration, ...etc.
Afer that we will enable using MethodSecurity , in this case we enabled exactly the usage of @PreAuthorize, @PostAuthorize and @Secured
On line 11 we use SimpleAuthorityMapper, which adds the prefix ROLE_ to keycloak roles.
Between lines 25 and 26 we specified that all endpoints expect the root / are restricted and requires an Authentication

Securing REST API

Let's take a look on the controller class, it provides four operations::

Keycloak configuration

Keycloak Spring Boot Adapter will read the needed configuration from file.

The three first properties are required, the name of realm is wstutorial, keycloak.auth-server-url points the Keycloak server and with keycloak.resource we define the client-id which is public.


It is common to combine HttpSecurity and method security level. The HttpSecurity can provide some global restrictions, and the method security can provide more fine-grained restrictions.

Let's test