Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Role-based access control for Karaf shell commands and OSGi services

In a previous post I outlined how role-based access control was added to JMX in Apache Karaf. While JMX is one way to remotely manage a Karaf instance, another management mechanism is provided via the Karaf Console/Shell. Up until now security for console commands was very coarse-grained. Once in the console you had access to all the commands. For example, it was not possible to give certain users access to merely changing their own configuration without also giving them access to shutting down the whole karaf instance.

With commit r1534467 this has now changed (thanks again to JB Onofré for reviewing and applying my pull request). You can now define roles required for each shell command and even have different roles depending on the arguments used with a certain command. This is achieved by using a relatively advanced feature of OSGi: Service Registry Hooks. These hooks give you a lot of control on how the OSGi service registry behaves. I blogged about them before. They enable you to:
  • see what service consumers are looking for, so you can register these services on-the-fly. This is often used to import remote services from discovery, but only if there is actually a client for them.
  • hide services from certain service consumers
  • change the service properties the client sees for a service by providing an alternative registration
  • proxy the original service
Every Karaf command is in reality an Apache Felix Gogo command, registered as an OSGi service. Every command has two service registration properties: osgi.command.scope and osgi.command.function. These properties define the name of the command and its scope. With the use of the OSGi Service Registry hooks I can replace the original service with a proxy that adds the role-based security. 

When I originally floated this idea on the Karaf mailing list, Christian Schneider said: "why don't we enable this for all services?" Good idea! So that's how I ended up implementing it. I first added a mechanism to add role-based access control to OSGi services in general and then applied this mechanism to get role-based access control for the Karaf commands.

Under the hood

the original service is hidden by OSGi Service Registry Hooks
The theory is quite simple. As mentioned above you can use OSGi Service Registry hooks to hide a service from certain consuming bundles and effectively replace it with another. In my case the replacement is a proxy of the original service with the same service registration properties (and some extra ones, see below). It will delegate an invocation to the original service, but before it does so it will check the ACL for the service being invoked to find out what the permitted roles are. Then it checks the roles of the current user by looking at the Subject in the current AccessControlContext. If the user doesn't have any of the permitted roles the service invocation is aborted with a SecurityException.

How do I configure ACLs for OSGi services?

ACLs for OSGi services are defined in a way similar to how these are defined for JMX access: through the OSGi Configuration Admin service. The PID needs to start with org.apache.karaf.service.acl. but the exact PID value isn't important. The service to which the ACL is matched is found through the service.guard configuration value. Configuration Admin is very flexible wrt to how configuration is stored, but by default in Karaf these configurations are stored as .cfg files in the etc/ directory. Let's say I have a service in my system that implements the following API and is registered in the OSGi service registry under the org.acme.MyAPI interface:
  package org.acme;

  public interface MyAPI {
    void doit(String s);
If I want to specify an ACL to say that only clients that have the manager role can invoke this service, I have to do two things:
  1. First I need to enable the role-based access for this service by including it in the filter specified in the etc/system.properties in the karaf.secured.services property:
      karaf.secured.services=(|(objectClass=org.acme.MyAPI)(...what was there already...))
    only services matching this property are enabled for role-based access control. Other services are left alone.
  2. Define the ACL for this service as Config Admin configuration. For example by creating a file etc/org.apache.karaf.service.acl.myapi.cfg:

    So the actual PID of the configuration is not really important, as long as it starts with the prefix. The service it applies to is then selected by matching the filter in the service.guard property.
There are some additional rules. There is a special role of * which means that ACLs are disabled for this method. Similar to the JMX ACLs you can also specify function arguments that require specific roles. For more details see the commit message.

Setting roles for service invocation

The service proxy checks the roles in the current AccessControlContext against the required ones. So when invoking a service that has role-based access control enabled, you need to set these roles. This is normally done as follows:
  import javax.security.auth.Subject;
  import org.apache.karaf.jaas.boot.principal.RolePrincipal;
  // ... 
  Subject s = new Subject();
  s.getPrincipals().add(new RolePrincipal("manager"));
  Subject.doAs(s, new PrivilegedAction() {
    public Object run() {
      svc.doit("foo"); // invoke the service
This example uses a Karaf built-in role. You can also use your own role implementations by specifying them using the className:roleName syntax in the ACL.

Note however, that javax.security.auth.Subject is a very powerful API. You should give bundles that import it extra scrutiny to ensure that they don't give access to clients that they shouldn't really have...

Applied to Shell Commands

Next step was to apply these concepts to the Karaf shell commands. As all the shell commands are registered with the osgi.command.function and osgi.command.scope properties. I enabled them in the default Karaf configuration with the following system property:

The next thing is to configure command ACLs. However that presented a slight usability problem. Most of the services in Karaf are implemented (via OSGi Blueprint) using the Function interface. Which means that the actual method name is always execute. It also means that you need to create a separate Configuration Admin PID for each command which is quite cumbersome. You really want to configure this stuff on a per-scope level with all the commands for a single scope in a single configuration file. To allow this the command-integration code contains a configuration transformer which creates service ACLs as described above but based on command scope level configuration files.
The command scope configuration file must have a PID that follows this structure: org.apache.karaf.command.acl.<scope> So if you want to create such a file for the feature scope the config file would be in etc/org.apache.karaf.command.acl.feature.cfg:
  list = viewer
  info = viewer
  install = admin
  uninstall = admin
In this example only users with the admin role can do install/uninstall operations while viewers can list features etc... Note that by using groups (as outlined in this previous post) users added to an admin group will also have viewer permissions, so will be able to do everything. For a more complex configuration file, have a look at this one.

Can I find out what roles a service requires?

It can be useful to know in advance what the roles are that are required to invoke a service. For example the shell supports tab-style command completion. You don't want to show commands to the user that you know are not available to the user's roles. For this purpose an additional service registration property is added to the proxy service registration: org.apache.karaf.service.guard.roles=[role1,role2]. The value of the property is the Collection of roles that can possibly invoke a method on the service. Since each command maps to a single service, we can have a Command Processor that only selects the commands applicable to the roles of the current user. This means that commands that this user doesn't have the right roles for are automatically hidden from autocompletion etc. When I'm logged in as an admin I can see all the feature commands (I removed ones not mentioned in the config for brevity):
  karaf@root()> feature: <hit TAB>
  info            install         list            uninstall
while Joe, a viewer, only see the feature commands available to viewers:
  joe@root()> feature: <hit TAB>
  info            list

In some cases the commands have roles associated with particular values being passed in. For example the config admin shell commands require admin rights for certain PIDs but not all. So Joe can safely edit his own configuration but is prevented from editing system level configuration:
  joe@root(config)> edit org.acme.foo
  joe@root(config)> property-set somekey someval
  joe@root(config)> update
So Joe can edit the org.acme.foo PID, but when he tries to edit the jmx.acl PID access is denied:
  joe@root(config)> edit jmx.acl
  Error executing command: Insufficient credentials.

Where are we with this stuff today?

The first commits to enable the above have just gone into Karaf trunk and although I wrote lots of unit tests for it, more use is needed to see whether it all works as users would expect. Also the default ACL configuration files may need a bit more attention. What's there now is really a start, the idea is to refine as we go along and have this as a proper feature for Karaf 3.

The power of OSGi services

One thing that this approach shows is really the power and flexibility of OSGi services. None of the code of the actual commands was changed. The ability to build role-based access on top of them in a non-intrusive way was really enabled by the OSGi service registry design and its capabilities.

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