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Administrative Policies in XACML Erik Rissanen Swedish Institute of Computer Science.

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1 Administrative Policies in XACML Erik Rissanen Swedish Institute of Computer Science

2 Delegation Delegation is a mechanism for administration With delegation we mean the granting of rights for the purpose of administering access control. We do not mean proxy delegation between tiers in an application stack.

3 The need of administrative rights XACML has no way to specify who may change policy –Application writers need to reinvent the wheel Models for administrative rights are needed in large systems –Many administrators are needed Centralized administration can be a bottle neck Centralized administration can be a security risk –Missunderstandings or too much power

4 Our approach We have made a simple implementation of administrative rights in XACML. We did not modify the core of XACML –Easier implementation and less intrusive –But, some things are not as elegant as they could be. We participate in the ”real” work in the XACML TC Note that the examples here are simplified! –Important technical details are left out

5 Administrative rights in XACML Two sources of policies –Trusted root policies –Policies with an ”external” issuer Two kinds of policies –Access rights –Administrative rights

6 Regular XACML Right Alice Printing Access

7 Request and response Alice Printing Access Permit

8 Delegated access right Looks like a regular XACML access right –Except it contains a condition that matches only access requests (in contrast to administrative requests) Is in some way associated with an issuer –A digital signature for instance Is rewritten to contain an obligation to verify the right to issue the policy

9 Delegated access right Alice Printing Access

10 Request and response Alice Printing Access Permit

11 Simple Administrative Right The right to create access rights Two parts –Access permission The scope of the access rights that are allowed in the end –Administrative subject This is the person/people who may create policies In the form of a condition that will match an administrative access request

12 Example Administrative Right Employee Printing Access Bob Non-empty delegation constraint indicates administrative right. (For Bob.)

13 Administrative Request Alice Printing Access Bob Permit Non-empty delegation chain indicates an administrative request. ”Verify the authority of Bob to grant this access.”

14 General Administrative Right The right to create policies Two parts –Access permission The scope of the access permissions that are allowed in the end –Delegation constraint Specifies all permitted chains of delegation in the form of a pattern that is compared with the chain of delegation in an administrative request Depending on the condition, it may allow the creation of other administrative rights

15 General Administrative Rights Root: S 1 S 2 S 3 S 4 AP 1 Issuer 1 : S 5 S 6 S 7 AP 2 Issuer 2 : S 8 S 9 AP 3 Issuer 3 : S 10 AP 4 Issuer 4 : AP 5 Access request: AR

16 Policy processing The PDP owner can insert any policy into the PDP –These root policies specify which other policies may be created and by whom External policies are rewritten to contain the verify issuer obligation The rewritten policies are collected into the PDP –We use a single policy set in our application. The PDP owner needs to define the policy combining algorithm –We use permit-overrides.

17 Request processing Starts with an almost regular XACML access request: –Except an extra environment condition with an empty delegation chain Is evaluated against the policies –Special combining algorithm collects all the obligations of delegated access permissions The context handler has to repeat the request for each obligation until a permit is received –The issuer is added to the environment delegation chain. This indicates an administrative request. –For repeated requests the chain grows longer with each new issuer.

18 Optimization of evaluation The current approach requires repeated access requests to verify administrative authority If rights would be directly comparable, the verification could be done ahead of the access. –No need for repeated requests. –But also not possible to combine rights from multiple sources into a single policy. –Also would probably limit the form of policies significantly.

19 Combining algorithms Any combining algorithm can be used within a delegated policy When policies from multiple sources are collected, the ”PDP owner” must specify which policy combining algorithm to use

20 Policy Sets Delegated policies could be Policy sets –Rewritten in the same way –However, Policies are enough for us I haven’t thought about policy references yet

21 Deny We do not use deny effects in our application Deny should work However, –Some policy combining algorithms may not make sense in a delegated setting. For instance: The order of policies that are externally issued and collected into a policy set may be unpredictable.

22 Access control data in our application Policy assertions Attribute assertions Attribute definition assertions Revocations

23 Distribution of data Data is distributed in a P2P-network, DKS A PDP subscribes to all access control data it needs. The PDP starts from a resource id –Fetches the resource attributes –Fetches the policies on those attributes –Fetches the issuer attributes End user attributes are fetched from the network or uploaded by the user

24 Architecture

25 Main open issues Difficult for people to understand dependencies? –Descriptive text in policies? –Limit policies to a comparable form? –Perhaps application semantics are enough? Replacement of administrators –When an administrative right is removed from an administrator, other policies fall as well. This may not be desirable. –Issue instants of policies are perhaps not trusted. –History of issuer attributes would be needed. Implementation with obligations is not elegant –Work in progress at the XACML TC I haven’t thought about all features of XACML yet.

26 The End More information: –

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