12/Flux Role-based Access Control
This document describes the how Flux message credentials are used to secure access to services.
Jim Garlick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
Define valid message credentials.
Define how message credentials are assigned and propagated.
Describe how message credentials are used to protect services against unauthorized access in a multi-user Flux instance.
Describe pub/sub message privacy.
A Flux instance consists of one or more Flux brokers communicating over a tree-based overlay network. Most of Flux’s distributed systems and services that aren’t directly associated with a running job are embedded in the Flux broker executable or its dynamically loaded plugins. Brokers run as an unprivileged user referred to as the instance owner. The instance owner has complete control within the Flux instance.
In a single-user Flux instance, only the instance owner is permitted to connect to Flux and send messages. Jobs are launched directly by Flux brokers and all jobs run as the instance owner. An example of single user Flux instance is a Flux batch job.
In a multi-user Flux instance, the instance owner is typically the
system user and guest users are permitted connect to Flux and send messages.
Jobs are launched indirectly by a privileged helper called the IMP. Security
in a multi-user Flux instance may be decomposed into two main topics:
Job requests are signed by guest users (RFC 39) and validated by a privileged helper called the IMP (RFC 15), which launches work on the guest’s behalf.
Messages sent by guest users are stamped at ingress with a credential that may be checked by Flux services to limit guest access.
This RFC describes how message credentials are used to implement role-based access control in a multi-user Flux instance.
Flux credentials use numerical POSIX user IDs. It is assumed that all users accessing Flux have a consistent UID mapping across participating systems.
The Flux message credential consists of (userid, rolemask) tuple as described in RFC 3.
The userid is a 32 bit unsigned integer that SHALL be interpreted as the message sender’s POSIX User ID.
The rolemask is a 32 bit mask that SHALL be interpreted as a set of capabilities.
A newly allocated message SHALL be initialized with an invalid credential,
In a valid credential, the userid SHALL be set to any value other than
0xffffffff and the rolemask SHALL include one of the following roles:
1) SHALL confer the maximum privilege upon the user, and is
REQUIRED to be assigned to the instance owner.
2) SHALL confer guest access.
Additional roles MAY be added to the rolemask:
4) SHALL indicate that the sender is attached to the
same broker rank as the receiver (see below).
Unless explicitly configured, guests SHALL NOT be permitted to connect directly to any component of a Flux instance.
As noted in RFC 3, connections from the local connector’s UNIX domain socket
are authenticated using the SO_PEERCRED socket option. A connection SHALL
be assumed to be from the instance owner if its peer UID matches the return
getuid(3) when the acceptor is known to be running as the
Flux brokers are interconnected via a tree-based overlay network that uses
ipc:// socket types. Overlay network security is
outsourced to 0MQ. For this RFC, it is sufficient to note that guests SHALL
NOT be permitted to directly connect to the overlay network, therefore all
overlay network peers MAY be assumed to be running as the instance owner.
When a message is received from a peer known to be the instance owner:
If the message credential is invalid, it SHALL be set to (owner_userid, FLUX_ROLE_OWNER).
If the message credential is valid, it SHALL NOT be changed.
When a message is received from a peer authenticated as a guest:
If the guest user ID is 0 and the instance has been explicitly configured to allow root to act as the instance owner, then the credential SHALL be set to (owner_userid, FLUX_ROLE_OWNER).
Otherwise the credential SHALL be set to (guest_userid, FLUX_ROLE_USER).
Although the natural flow is to send messages with invalid credentials and allow the initial receiver to assign them, a consequence of the credential assignment rules above is that the instance owner is permitted to assign any valid credential to a message before sending, and thus impersonate a guest. This is useful for testing and not harmful since the the owner already has complete control over the Flux instance.
The Local Role
FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL is special in that it is not a capability assigned to the user.
Rather, it reflects whether the message was sent from the same broker rank as
the receiver. It MAY be used to limit remote access to sensitive services such
rexec, even for the instance owner.
FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL is managed as follows:
When a credential is assigned, FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL SHALL be added to the message rolemask if the connection is local (e.g. the local and shmem connectors).
When a message is received by the overlay network from a remote broker, FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL SHALL be cleared from the message rolemask.
Service Security Policy
The Flux broker routes all requests addressed to a registered service to their destinations as per RFC 6, without regard for the message credentials. Flux services that act upon request messages MUST assume that requests can be received from guests and implement appropriate protections.
When a request message is denied because of inadequate credentials, and the request does not have the FLUX_MSGFLAG_NORESPONSE flag, the service SHOULD respond with the POSIX EPERM (1) error.
Role-based access control MAY be implemented by associating an “allow” rolemask with each service. A message is accepted if one of the following is true
a logical AND is performed between the message credential rolemask and the allow rolemask and the result is nonzero
the message credential contains FLUX_ROLE_OWNER
Messages that fail role based access control receive an automatic EPERM error. Messages that pass reach the service message handler callback.
Once the message handler is called, the message handler MAY implement further checks on the message credential. For example, some services allow FLUX_ROLE_USER, then accept messages if one of the following is true
the message credential contains FLUX_ROLE_OWNER
the message credential userid matches a target userid (for example a job owner).
RFC 3 describes Flux’s publish-subscribe event messages. Some event messages MAY be inappropriate to share with all users in a multi-user Flux instance.
The credential assignment rules described above apply equally to requests and event messages. When an event is published with the FLUX_MSGFLAG_PRIVATE flag, event message publication SHALL only be performed to a peer if one of the following is true:
the peer is known to be the instance owner
the peer’s authenticated userid matches the event message credential userid
It may be helpful to trace the path of a request message sent by a guest to a service on another broker rank.
flux pingcommand connects to Flux as a guest user with POSIX UID of
5500and sends a request message to the KVS module on rank 1. The request message has an invalid credential (
The Flux instance’s connector-local broker module is configured to allow guests, so the connection is permitted. Because the connection is authenticated as a guest and the connection is local, the credential (
5500, FLUX_ROLE_USER | FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL) is assigned and the message is forwarded to the next hop, broker 0.
Broker 0 knows that the connector-local module, which is a local thread communicating over shared memory, is running as the instance owner, so the message is forwarded as-is to the next hop, broker 1, using the overlay network.
Broker 1 knows that the overlay network only connects remote brokers running as the instance owner, so it clears FLUX_ROLE_LOCAL and forwards the message to the local kvs module.
The KVS module knows that the broker is running as the instance owner so it accepts the request as-is. The request credential (
5500, FLUX_ROLE_USER) is compared against the allow rolemask for
kvs.ping, which contains FLUX_ROLE_USER, and the request is accepted and processed.