User authorization

X-Pack security introduces the concept of authorization to the Elastic Stack. Authorization is the process of determining whether the user behind an incoming request is allowed to execute the request.

This process takes place after the user is successfully identified and authenticated.

Role-based access control

X-Pack security provides a role-based access control (RBAC) mechanism, which enables you to authorize users by assigning privileges to roles and assigning roles to users or groups.

This image illustrates role-based access control

The authorization process revolves around the following constructs:

Secured Resource
A resource to which access is restricted. Indices, aliases, documents, fields, users, and the Elasticsearch cluster itself are all examples of secured objects.
Privilege
A named group of one or more actions that a user may execute against a secured resource. Each secured resource has its own sets of available privileges. For example, read is an index privilege that represents all actions that enable reading the indexed/stored data. For a complete list of available privileges see Security privileges.
Permissions

A set of one or more privileges against a secured resource. Permissions can easily be described in words, here are few examples:

  • read privilege on the products index
  • manage privilege on the cluster
  • run_as privilege on john user
  • read privilege on documents that match query X
  • read privilege on credit_card field
Role
A named set of permissions
User
The authenticated user.
Group
One or more groups to which a user belongs. Groups are not supported in some realms, such as native, file, or PKI realms.

A role has a unique name and identifies a set of permissions that translate to privileges on resources. You can associate a user or group with an arbitrary number of roles. When you map roles to groups, the roles of a user in that group are the combination of the roles assigned to that group and the roles assigned to that user. Likewise, the total set of permissions that a user has is defined by the union of the permissions in all its roles.

The method for assigning roles to users varies depending on which realms you use to authenticate users. For more information, see Mapping users and groups to roles.

Attribute-based access control

X-Pack security also provides an attribute-based access control (ABAC) mechanism, which enables you to use attributes to restrict access to documents in search queries and aggregations. For example, you can assign attributes to users and documents, then implement an access policy in a role definition. Users with that role can read a specific document only if they have all the required attributes.

For more information, see Document-level attribute-based access control with X-Pack 6.1.