Spring Security Config - One Minute Overview

Posted on July 15, 2020

The common way to configure Spring Security is by extending WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter and annotating with @Configuration. e.g., from the Java docs:

class SimpleSecurityConfiguration extends WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter {
        protected void configure(HttpSecurity http) throws Exception {

If you need to have multiple configurations, for instance, for different paths, then you can either http.antMatchers(...), or you can provide multiple configurations. But these achieve different things, and this distinction needs to be understood.

Each WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter sets up a filter chain, which is in turn used by the FilterChainProxy. This will have a set of filters which add authentication, authorisation, and whatever other checks and rewrites that are configured.

When you use an http.antMatchers(...) within a configuration it simply narrows the path of the authorisation processing, until the next and() which will ten return the original HttpSecurity object. It simply makes chaining the calls together easier, but in a lot of cases, it makes it more confusing.

The HttpSecurity object can however, set a base antMatcher(...) that determines if the filter chain applies.


In order to use multiple filters, it is important to understand how they are matched. The FilterChainProxy will go through each filter chain in order, and will apply the first one that matches based on the antMatcher(...). This means that:

  1. You can not have multiple filter chains that match the same path, and
  2. Any default filter chain must be last.

Use the @Order(1) annotation to set the order, ordered from lowest number to highest number. If this is excluded then the default is to match last.

Finally, each filter chain has its own AuthenticationManager which is accessed using the authenticationManager() method.


  1. Each WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter is a filter chain, with its own set of filters and rules,
  2. The first filter chain matching the path to the antSelector(...) will be used, orderd by Order(1),
  3. The antMatchers(...) can be used to apply authorisation to a specific path,
  4. The and() method returns the HttpSecurity object for that filter chain,
  5. There is one AuthenticationManager per filter chain.