Best Practices for Configuring Confluence Security

The best way to harden a system is to look at each of the involved systems individually. Contact your company's security officer or department to find out what security policies you should be using. There are many things to consider, such as the configuration of your underlying operating systems, application servers, database servers, network, firewall, routers, etc. It would be impossible to outline all of them here.

This page contains guidelines on good security practices, to the best of our knowledge.

Secure your installation and data directories

It's important to make sure your Confluence installation directory, home directory, and any storage locations you may define for attachments, space exports, or data pipeline exports are secure. 

We strongly recommend you:

  • run Confluence with a dedicated user account.
  • limit the user accounts who can access any Confluence directories. 

To find out how to do this, see Creating a Dedicated User Account on the Operating System to Run Confluence

Configuring the Web Server

Please refer to the following guides for system administrators:

Configuring the Application

The way you set up Confluence roles, permissions and processes makes a big difference in the security of your Confluence site.

Below are some more Confluence-specific items to consider. None of these provides 100% security. They are measures to reduce impact and to slow down an intruder in case your system does become compromised.

  • Keep the number of Confluence administrators extremely low. For example, 3 system administrator accounts should be the maximum.
  • Similarly, restrict the number of users with powerful roles or group memberships. If only one department should have access to particularly sensitive data, then do restrict access to the data to those users. Do not let convenience over-rule security. Do not give all staff access to sensitive data when there is no need.
  • The administrators should have separate Confluence accounts for their administrative roles and for their day to day roles. If John Doe is an administrator, he should have a regular user account without administrator access to do his day to day work (such as writing pages in the wiki). This could be a 'john.doe' account. In addition, he should have an entirely separate account (that cannot be guessed by an outsider and that does not even use his proper name) for administrative work. This account could be 'jane smith' – using a username that is so obscure or fake that no outsider could guess it. This way, even if an attacker singles out the actual person John Doe and gets hold of his password, the stolen account would most likely be John's regular user account, and the attacker cannot perform administrative actions with that account.
  • Lock down administrative actions as much as you can. If there is no need for your administrators to perform administrative actions from outside the office, then lock down access to those actions to known IP adresses, for example. See Using Apache to limit access to the Confluence administration interface.
  • Put documented procedures in place for the case of employees leaving the company.
  • Perform security audits regularly. Know who can help in case a security breach occurs. Perform 'what if' planning exercises. ('What is the worst thing that could happen if a privileged user's password were stolen while he's on vacation? What can we do to minimize damage?').
  • Make sure the Confluence database user (and all datasource database users) only has the amount of database privileges it really needs.
  • Monitor your binaries. If an attacker compromises an account on your system, he will usually try to gain access to more accounts. This is sometimes done by adding malicious code, such as by modifying files on the system. Run routine scripts that regularly verify that no malicious change has been made.

As another precaution:

  • Regularly monitor the above requirements. There are many things that could start out well, but deteriorate over time:
    • A system may start out with just 3 administrators, but over the course of a year this could grow to 30 administrators if no one prevents expansion.
    • Apache administration restrictions may be in place at the start of the year, but when the application server is migrated after a few months, people may forget to apply the rules to the new system.

Again, keep in mind that the above steps may only be a fraction of what could apply to you, depending on your security requirements. Also, keep in mind that none of the above rules can guarantee anything. They just make it harder for an intruder to move quickly.

Last modified on Aug 3, 2021

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