[Docs] [txt|pdf|xml|html] [Tracker] [Email] [Diff1] [Diff2] [Nits]

Versions: 00 01

N/A                                                            A. Deason
Internet-Draft                                                 M. Meffie
Intended status: Experimental                                  T. Keiser
Expires: July 17, 2010                                       Sine Nomine
                                                        January 13, 2010

            Methods of Specifying Restrictions on AFS3 ACLs


   The AFS-3 ACL 'a' bit gives users unfettered power to grant, or
   revoke, privileges, with no provision for enforcing site policy.
   This memo provides several alternative mechanisms for creating
   restrictions on what powers the 'a' bit denotes.  Three alternative
   mechanisms for restricting the power of the 'a' bit are proposed: a
   method for overlaying the ACL with a site-controlled ACL; a method
   for masking the ACL with a site-controlled privilege mask; and a
   finely granular meta-acl mechanism for restricting to whom privileges
   may be delegated, and which privileges may be given to different
   classes of principals.  This memo will serve as a basis for the ACL
   restriction discussion with the AFS-3 protocol working group.  The
   intended goal of this discussion is to reach consensus on
   standardization of one or more solutions, and then publish a BCP
   status memo.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted to IETF in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 1]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

   This Internet-Draft will expire on July 17, 2010.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2010 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the BSD License.

1.  Introduction

   Currently sites may give users administrative rights on certain
   directories in AFS, such as home directories and shared project
   directories.  Users should not, but can, give overly permissive ACLs
   to those directories.  For example, a user could give write and even
   admin permissions to the system:anyuser group ('fs sa $HOME system:
   anyuser rlidwka').

   This can which can lead to problematic situations, especially for
   directories that can be served over http.  As it stands today, the
   only possible way for AFS administrators to prevent this (at least in
   OpenAFS) is to monitor the fileserver's audit log, and correct ACLs
   that are overly permissive.  But this is suboptimal, and is an after-
   the-fact check.

   If you see a viable solution to this problem not listed here, or see
   any problems with our methods, please let us know.  Or if a solution
   to this problem is valuable to you or your organization, also please
   let us know.

1.1.  Requirements Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 2]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

2.  Proposed solutions

   Discussions have shown that preventing this is not a simple issue,
   and that there are a few ways to go about it, each with advantages
   and disadvantages.  Here we will outline 3 general approaches, and
   show how to use them to meet certain illustrative use cases.

   Since the rest of this is quite long, here's a quick summary of the
   conclusions.  We have three methods: 'method A' is the "volume-level
   ACL overlays" idea, 'method B' is the "volume ACL masks" idea, and
   'method C' is the "volume ACL policies" idea.  While none of these in
   themselves cover all corners of all possible use cases, we would
   probably implement either C by itself, or A and B together to cover a
   large enough majority of use cases.  Of course, unless a serious
   problem is found, there is no reason to not implement all three.

   The bottom line is that I find method C to be the most flexible and
   the least confusing to end-users, but it is the most confusing to
   administrators, and it is the slowest (when changing the volume-level
   permissions).  Using methods A+B has the opposite pros/cons.

   Here are the details.  Each method has an explanation for what it
   generally is and how it works, followed by its use in a few simple
   use-case scenarios, followed by the pros/cons.

2.1.  Method A: volume-level ACL overlays

   With this method, we maintain a single additional ACL in the volume
   metadata, which is applied to access checks in the volume after
   performing the per-directory ACL check.  It can be thought of as
   similar to the OpenAFS fileserver's -implicit flag, but more

   For example, if we wanted a volume where system:backups was
   guaranteed to have 'rl' rights, and system:evilusers was guaranteed
   to not have _any_ rights, the volume-level ACL overlay would look
   like this:

    system:backups rl
    system:evilusers rlidwka

   Thus, any time an access check is done on an ACL anywhere in the
   volume: after we do the normal directory ACL check, we look at this
   volume-level ACL.  If the accessing user is in system:backups, they

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 3]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

   will get rl rights, and if they are in system:evilusers, all of their
   rights will go away.

2.1.1.  How do I prevent system:anyuser/system:authuser write access?

   To prevent system:anyuser from having write access, we will need to
   allow specifying the 'anonymous' user in the volume-level ACL, which
   refers only to unauthenticated accesses.  Then, you just give
   negative write rights to the anonymous user.  The command would look
   something like:

     vos setacl -vol user.adeason -acl anonymous idwka -neg

   For system:authuser, you cannot prevent write access with this
   method.  It is a limitation of this approach.  (Giving system:
   authuser negative idwka rights would revoke those rights from _all_
   authenticated users, which is probably not what you want to do.)

2.1.2.  How do I ensure nobody in group.foo gets write access?

   Just grant negative idwka access to group.foo on the volume.
   Something like:

     vos setacl -vol user.adeason -acl group.foo idwka -neg

   Members of group.foo will now not be able to write anything in the

2.1.3.  How do I guarantee group.bar read access?

   Same as above, just grant positive read rights.  Something like:

     vos setacl -vol user.adeason -acl group.bar rl

2.1.4.  Method A advantages

   o  Changing the volume-level rights is quick.

   o  Minimal end-administrator confusion; this is relatively simple to

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 4]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

   o  Simpler than method C to implement.

2.1.5.  Method A disadvantages

   o  We have no way to restrict access of special groups like system:
      authuser or host IP groups.  To get this, we'd have to combine
      with method with method B or C.

   o  There is no way to override the volume-level ACL, and have an
      administrator force e.g. system:anyuser write access on a
      particular directory.

   o  Higher end-user confusion.  With legacy 'fs listacl', there is no
      way to see that there is a volume-level ACL in play, and users may
      have no idea why access is failing for certain cases.  Of course,
      releasing new tools can fix that.

   o  Performance impact is an extra O(n) ACL calculation for the
      volume-level ACL overlay in the critical path.  But those ACLs
      should be small anyway.

2.2.  Method B: volume ACL masks

   With this method, we maintain a mapping of users to a rights mask.
   Any time an ACL access check is performed, if a positive ACL entry
   matches a user in that table, the acquires rights are masked to the
   rights mask in the table.

   For example, if we wanted to prevent users from giving away write
   access to system:anyuser, and prevent users from giving admin access
   to system:authuser, we could have a table like so:

   system:anyuser rl
   system:authuser rlidwk

   So any time an ACL entry for system:anyuser appears, everything is
   treated as if the rights in that ACL entry were logically ANDed with
   'rl'.  So no user can gain more than 'rl' rights on a directory
   simply by being in system:anyuser.

2.2.1.  How do I prevent system:anyuser/system:authuser write access?

   Set the rights mask for them to just 'rl'.  Something like:

     vos setaclmask -vol user.adeason -user system:anyuser -mask rl

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 5]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

   So any time an ACL entry for system:anyuser appears in the volume,
   everything will act as if the rights were limited to rl.

2.2.2.  How do I ensure nobody in group.foo gets write access?

   You cannot _prevent_ access for an arbitrary group with this method,
   but you can make it harder to do accidentally.  You can set the
   rights mask like so:

     vos setaclmask -vol user.adeason -user group.foo -mask rl

   Which restricts any rights for group.foo on any ACL to be restricted
   to 'rl'.  However, a user can intentionally work around this by
   simply placing group.foo in another group:

     pts creategroup adeason:foo
     pts adduser group.foo adeason:foo
     fs setacl $DIR adeason:foo rlidwka

   Since group.foo itself never apears in the ACL, the ACL mask is

2.2.3.  How do I guarantee group.bar read access?

   You cannot.  This method cannot grant additional rights.

2.2.4.  Method B advantages

   o  Changing the rights mask is quick.

   o  Runtime performance overhead in the critical path is O(1).

2.2.5.  Method B disadvantages

   o  Not as useful for non-'special' groups.  That is, it can be
      trivially worked around, unless you only use this for groups like
      system:anyuser, system:authuser, or host IP groups.

   o  No way to override the ACL masks on a particular directory, if the
      administrator wants to.

   o  Higher end-user confusion with legacy client tools.  There's no
      way to see what the ACL rights are restricted to until newer
      client tools are deployed.

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 6]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

2.3.  Method C: volume ACL policies

   With this method, we maintain policies of who is allowed to set what
   ACLs in a volume.  That is, unlike methods A and B, we perform
   additional access checks at SetACL time, not at the time when the
   files are accessed.  We would have 4 volume-level ACLs that define
   what users are allowed to add positive rights ('add-positive'),
   remove positive rights ('remove-positive'), add negative rights
   ('add-negative'), and remove negative rights ('remove-negative').

   For example, to allow nobody but system:powerusers to grant idwka
   rights to system:anyuser, we'd have a policy for system:anyuser that
   would look like this:

     system:powerusers rlidwka
     system:anyuser    rl

   After that policy is set, any time a user not in system:powerusers
   tries to grant system:anyuser more than rl rights, they will get an
   EACCES error.  This does not change the existing ACLs in the volume;
   an administrator will need to run an auditing tool to make sure that
   existing ACLs comply with the volume policy.

2.3.1.  How do I prevent system:anyuser/system:authuser write access?

   You would call something like this

     vos setpolicy -add-positive \
       -user system:anyuser      \
       -set-rights rl            \
       -for-user system:anyuser  \
       -in-volume user.adeason

   to prevent people from giving system:anyuser write access.  To ensure
   that existing ACLs don't permit write access, you would need to run
   something like

     vos auditpolicy -vol user.adeason

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 7]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

2.3.2.  How do I ensure nobody in group.foo gets write access?

   To prevent an arbitrary normal group from getting write access,
   things are slightly different.  You would need to prevent users from
   taking away negative idwka rights, and then assign negative idwka
   rights to all directories in the volume.  So, something like

    vos setpolicy -remove-negative \
      -user system:anyuser         \
      -set-rights rl               \
      -for-user group.foo          \
      -in-volume user.adeason

   Would allow users to only remove 'rl' rights from group.foo in
   negative ACLs.  Then you would need to set negative idwka ACLs on all
   directories in the volume.

2.3.3.  How do I guarantee group.bar read access?

   Prevent normal users from taking away read access from group.bar, and
   from granting negative read access for group.bar:

    vos setpolicy -remove-positive \
      -user system:anyuser         \
      -set-rights idwka            \
      -for-user group.bar          \
      -in-volume user.adeason

    vos setpolicy -add-negative \
      -user system:anyuser      \
      -set-rights idwka         \
      -for-user group.bar       \
      -in-volume user.adeason

   Then, grant read access for group.bar in all directories in the

2.3.4.  Method C advantages

   o  More flexible for a variety of situations.  In particular, this
      allows administrators (or an arbitrary administrator-defined set
      of users) to override the volume policies, and set e.g. system:
      anyuser write on a particular directory if they so wish.

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 8]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

   o  No performance overhead at access-check time.  All of the
      additional access checks are done during SetACL.

   o  Minimal end-user confusion.  ACLs accurately represent exactly
      what rights different users have.  Trying to set an ACL that
      violates the policy will result in EACCES, so they know the SetACL
      operation didn't work.  It may be confusing as to why it did not,
      but at least it is clear that the ACL was not changed.

2.3.5.  Method C disadvantages

   o  Volumes need to be 'audited' (or all of the ACLs just need to be
      set) to make sure they comply with the ACL policy, which can be
      very slow.

   o  Higher end-administrator confusion.  This by far the most
      confusing method for administrators to set ACL policies.

3.  Summary

   As I mentioned, we could just do all of these, since they are
   potentially best suited to different scenarios.  Either method C by
   itself or methods A and B together do seem to cover most of the
   immediately-apparent use cases, though.  To summarize the general
   areas in which the different methods are better or worse:

                        Better     | Worse
   flexibility:       : method C   | method A+B
   end-user confusion : method C   | method A+B
   end-admin confusion: method A+B | method C
   policy-change speed: method A+B | method C

   There are other pros and cons, but I think those areas are the only
   ones where it matters much.  If you see any problems that aren't
   listed here, or if you particularly want one of the described
   methods, please let us know.

4.  Acknowledgements

   The authors would like to thank Jim Rowan for discussing problematic
   interactions between the proposed ACL policy management techniques
   and PTS user-managed groups, and Jeffrey Altman for helping to better
   frame the problem statement and proposing alternative

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                 [Page 9]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010


5.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

6.  Security Considerations

   The existing security model is known to be flawed.  This draft
   attempts to improve the situation by limiting the extent to which end
   users can modify file system permissions.  However, it is known that
   this is not sufficient to address all possible ACL attack vectors.
   Two key areas of concern are authorization for modification of policy
   metadata, and interaction with user-managed PTS groups.

   How modification of policy data will be authorized in an environment
   using RBAC is not clear; it is known that system:administrators is
   not always the appropriate group of principals.  In highly secured
   environments there may be a desire to restrict modification of policy
   to a security-related group, rather than the group responsible for
   maintaining the AFS server plant.  This is not addressed in the memo,
   although it could be addressed by means of additional per-volume

   There are proposed attack vectors by which a user-managed group can
   be used to get around ACL restrictions.  While these attacks can
   bypass a naive ACL policy specification, it is possible to circumvent
   these techniques through the use of negative access control policy

7.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                [Page 10]

Internet-Draft            AFS3 ACL Restrictions             January 2010

Authors' Addresses

   Andrew Deason
   Sine Nomine Associates
   43596 Blacksmith Square
   Ashburn, Virginia  20147-4606

   Phone: +1 703 723 6673
   Email: adeason@sinenomine.net

   Michael Meffie
   Sine Nomine Associates
   43596 Blacksmith Square
   Ashburn, Virginia  20147-4606

   Phone: +1 703 723 6673
   Email: mmeffie@sinenomine.net

   Thomas Keiser
   Sine Nomine Associates
   43596 Blacksmith Square
   Ashburn, Virginia  20147-4606

   Phone: +1 703 723 6673
   Email: tkeiser@sinenomine.net

Deason, et al.            Expires July 17, 2010                [Page 11]

Html markup produced by rfcmarkup 1.126, available from https://tools.ietf.org/tools/rfcmarkup/