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Access Control Lists

Access Control List (ACL) provides access protection to your data stored in Dgraph. When the ACL feature is enabled, a client, e.g. dgo or dgraph4j, must authenticate with a username and password before executing any transactions, and is only allowed to access the data permitted by the ACL rules.

ACLs are available to Dgraph Cloud users with dedicated instances.

Note This feature was introduced in v1.1.0. The dgraph acl command is deprecated and will be removed in a future release. ACL changes can be made by using the /admin GraphQL endpoint on any Alpha node.

Enable enterprise ACL feature

The ACL feature can be turned on by following these steps:

  1. Create a plain text file, and store a randomly generated secret key in it. The secret key is used by Dgraph Alpha nodes to sign JSON Web Tokens (JWT). Keep this secret key secret to avoid data security issues. The secret key must have at least 256-bits (32 ASCII characters) to support the HMAC-SHA256 signing algorithm.

  2. Start all the Dgraph Alpha nodes in your cluster with the option --acl secret-file="/path/to/secret", and make sure that they are all using the same secret key file created in Step 1. Alternatively, you can store the secret in Hashicorp Vault.

    dgraph alpha --acl "secret-file=/path/to/secret" --security "whitelist=<permitted-ip-addresses>"
    
Tip In addition to command line flags --acl secret-file="/path/to/secret" and --security "whitelist=<permitted-ip-addresses>", you can also configure Dgraph using a configuration file (config.yaml, config.json). You can also use environment variables, i.e. DGRAPH_ALPHA_ACL="secret-file=</path/to/secret>" and DGRAPH_ALPHA_SECURITY="whitelist=<permitted-ip-addresses>". See Config for more information in general about configuring Dgraph.

Example using Dgraph CLI

Here is an example that starts a Dgraph Zero node and a Dgraph Alpha node with the ACL feature turned on. You can run these commands in a separate terminal tab:

## Create ACL secret key file with 32 ASCII characters
echo '12345678901234567890123456789012' > hmac_secret_file

## Start Dgraph Zero in different terminal tab or window
dgraph zero --my=localhost:5080 --replicas 1 --raft idx=1

## Start Dgraph Alpha in different terminal tab or window
dgraph alpha --my=localhost:7080 --zero=localhost:5080 \
  --acl secret-file="./hmac_secret_file" \
  --security whitelist="10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16"

Example using Docker Compose

If you are using Docker Compose, you can set up a sample Dgraph cluster using this docker-compose.yaml configuration:

version: '3.5'
services:
  alpha1:
    command: dgraph alpha --my=alpha1:7080 --zero=zero1:5080
    container_name: alpha1
    environment:
      DGRAPH_ALPHA_ACL: secret-file=/dgraph/acl/hmac_secret_file
      DGRAPH_ALPHA_SECURITY: whitelist=10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16
    image: dgraph/dgraph:master
    ports:
      - "8080:8080"
    volumes:
      - ./hmac_secret_file:/dgraph/acl/hmac_secret_file
  zero1:
    command: dgraph zero --my=zero1:5080 --replicas 1 --raft idx=1
    container_name: zero1
    image: dgraph/dgraph:master

You can run this with:

## Create ACL secret key file with 32 ASCII characters
echo '12345678901234567890123456789012' > hmac_secret_file

## Start Docker Compose
docker-compose up

Example using Kubernetes Helm Chart

If you deploy Dgraph on Kubernetes, you can configure the ACL feature using the Dgraph Helm Chart.

The first step is to encode the secret with base64:

## encode a secret without newline character and copy to the clipboard
printf '12345678901234567890123456789012' | base64

The next step is that we need to create a Helm chart config values file, e.g. dgraph_values.yaml. We want to copy the results of encoded secret as paste this into the hmac_secret_file like the example below:

## dgraph_values.yaml
alpha:
  acl:
    enabled: true
    file:
      hmac_secret_file: MTIzNDU2Nzg5MDEyMzQ1Njc4OTAxMjM0NTY3ODkwMTI=
  configFile:
    config.yaml: |
      acl:
        secret_file: /dgraph/acl/hmac_secret_file
      security:
        whitelist: 10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16      

Now with the Helm chart config values created, we can deploy Dgraph:

helm repo add "dgraph" https://charts.dgraph.io
helm install "my-release" --values ./dgraph_values.yaml dgraph/dgraph

Storing ACL secret in Hashicorp Vault

You can save the ACL secret on Hashicorp Vault server instead of saving the secret on the local file system.

Configuring a Hashicorp Vault Server

Do the following to set up on the Hashicorp Vault server for use with Dgraph:

  1. Ensure that the Vault server is accessible from Dgraph Alpha and configured using URL http://fqdn[ip]:port.
  2. Enable AppRole Auth method and enable KV Secrets Engine.
  3. Save the 256-bits (32 ASCII characters) long ACL secret in a KV Secret path (K/V Version 1 or K/V Version 2). For example, you can upload this below to KV Secrets Engine Version 2 path of secret/data/dgraph/alpha:
    {
      "options": {
        "cas": 0
      },
      "data": {
        "hmac_secret_file": "12345678901234567890123456789012"
      }
    }
    
  4. Create or use a role with an attached policy that grants access to the secret. For example, the following policy would grant access to secret/data/dgraph/alpha:
    path "secret/data/dgraph/*" {
      capabilities = [ "read", "update" ]
    }
    
  5. Using the role_id generated from the previous step, create a corresponding secret_id, and copy the role_id and secret_id over to local files, like ./dgraph/vault/role_id and ./dgraph/vault/secret_id, that will be used by Dgraph Alpha nodes.
Tip To learn more about the above steps, see Dgraph Vault Integration: Docker.
Note The key format for the acl-field option can be defined using acl-format with the values base64 (default) or raw.

Example using Dgraph CLI with Hashicorp Vault configuration

Here is an example of using Dgraph with a Vault server that holds the secret key:

## Start Dgraph Zero in different terminal tab or window
dgraph zero --my=localhost:5080 --replicas 1 --raft "idx=1"

## Start Dgraph Alpha in different terminal tab or window
dgraph alpha \
  --security whitelist="10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16" \
  --vault addr="http://localhost:8200";acl-field="hmac_secret_file";acl-format="raw";path="secret/data/dgraph/alpha";role-id-file="./role_id";secret-id-file="./secret_id"

Example using Docker Compose with Hashicorp Vault configuration

If you are using Docker Compose, you can set up a sample Dgraph cluster using this docker-compose.yaml configuration:

version: '3.5'
services:
  alpha1:
    command: dgraph alpha --my=alpha1:7080 --zero=zero1:5080
    container_name: alpha1
    environment:
      DGRAPH_ALPHA_VAULT: addr=http://vault:8200;acl-field=hmac_secret_file;acl-format=raw;path=secret/data/dgraph/alpha;role-id-file=/dgraph/vault/role_id;secret-id-file=/dgraph/vault/secret_id
      DGRAPH_ALPHA_SECURITY: whitelist=10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16
    image: dgraph/dgraph:master
    ports:
      - "8080:8080"
    volumes:
      - ./role_id:/dgraph/vault/role_id
      - ./secret_id:/dgraph/vault/secret_id
  zero1:
    command: dgraph zero --my=zero1:5080 --replicas 1 --raft idx=1
    container_name: zero1
    image: dgraph/dgraph:master

In this example, you will also need to configure a Hashicorp Vault service named vault in the above docker-compose.yaml, and then run through this sequence:

  1. Launch vault service: docker-compose up --detach vault
  2. Unseal and Configure vault with the required prerequisites (see Configuring a Hashicorp Vault Server).
  3. Save role-id and secret-id as ./role_id and secret_id
  4. Launch Dgraph Zero and Alpha: docker-compose up --detach

Example using Kubernetes Helm Chart with Hashicorp Vault configuration

If you deploy Dgraph on Kubernetes, you can configure the ACL feature using the Dgraph Helm Chart.

The next step is that we need to create a Helm chart config values file, such as dgraph_values.yaml.

## dgraph_values.yaml
alpha:
  configFile:
    config.yaml: |
      vault:
        addr: http://vault-headless.default.svc.cluster.local:9200
        acl_field: hmac_secret_file
        acl_format: raw
        path: secret/data/dgraph/alpha
        role_id_file: /dgraph/vault/role_id
        secret_id_file: /dgraph/vault/secret_id
      security:
        whitelist: 10.0.0.0/8,172.0.0.0/8,192.168.0.0/16‘      

To set up this chart, the Hashicorp Vault service must be installed and available. You can use the Hashicorp Vault Helm Chart and configure it to auto unseal so that the service is immediately available after deployment.

Accessing secured Dgraph

Before managing users and groups and configuring ACL rules, you will need to login in order to get a token that is needed to access Dgraph. You will use this token with the X-Dgraph-AccessToken header field.

Logging In

To login, send a POST request to /admin with the GraphQL mutation. For example, to log in as the root user groot:

mutation {
  login(userId: "groot", password: "password") {
    response {
      accessJWT
      refreshJWT
    }
  }
}

Response:

{
  "data": {
    "accessJWT": "<accessJWT>",
    "refreshJWT": "<refreshJWT>"
  }
}

Access Token

The response includes the access and refresh JWTs which are used for the authentication itself and refreshing the authentication token, respectively. Save the JWTs from the response for later HTTP requests.

You can run authenticated requests by passing the access JWT to a request via the X-Dgraph-AccessToken header. Add the header X-Dgraph-AccessToken with the accessJWT value which you got in the login response in the GraphQL tool which you’re using to make the request.

For example, if you were using the GraphQL Playground, you would add this in the headers section:

{ "X-Dgraph-AccessToken" : "<accessJWT>" }

And in the main code section, you can add a mutation, such as:

mutation {
  addUser(input: [{ name: "alice", password: "whiterabbit" }]) {
    user {
      name
    }
  }
}

Refresh Token

The refresh token can be used in the /admin POST GraphQL mutation to receive new access and refresh JWTs, which is useful to renew the authenticated session once the ACL access TTL expires (controlled by Dgraph Alpha’s flag --acl_access_ttl which is set to 6h0m0s by default).

mutation {
  login(
    userId: "groot"
    password: "password"
    refreshToken: "<refreshJWT>"
  ) {
    response {
      accessJWT
      refreshJWT
    }
  }
}

Login using a client

With ACL configured, you need to log in as a user to access data protected by ACL rules. You can do this using the client’s .login(USER_ID, USER_PASSWORD) method.

Here are some code samples using a client:

Login using curl

If you are using curl from the command line, you can use the following with the above login mutation saved to login.graphql:

## Login and save results
JSON_RESULT=$(curl http://localhost:8080/admin --silent --request POST \
  --header "Content-Type: application/graphql" \
  --upload-file login.graphql
)

## Extracting a token using GNU grep, perl, the silver searcher, or jq
TOKEN=$(grep -oP '(?<=accessJWT":")[^"]*' <<< $JSON_RESULT)
TOKEN=$(perl -wln -e '/(?<=accessJWT":")[^"]*/ and print $&;' <<< $JSON_RESULT)
TOKEN=$(ag -o '(?<=accessJWT":")[^"]*' <<< $JSON_RESULT)
TOKEN=$(jq -r '.data.login.response.accessJWT' <<< $JSON_RESULT)

## Run a GraphQL query using the token
curl http://localhost:8080/admin --silent --request POST \
  --header "Content-Type: application/graphql" \
  --header "X-Dgraph-AccessToken: $TOKEN" \
  --upload-file some_other_query.graphql
Tip Parsing JSON results on the command line can be challenging, so you will find some alternatives to extract the desired data using popular tools, such as the silver searcher or the json query tool jq, embedded in this snippet.

User and group administration

The default configuration comes with a user groot, with a password of password. The groot user is part of administrative group called guardians that have access to everything. You can add more users to the guardians group as needed.

Reset the root password

You can reset the root password like this example:

mutation {
  updateUser(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "groot" } }
      set: { password: "$up3r$3cr3t1337p@$$w0rd" }
    }
  ) {
    user {
      name
    }
  }
}

Create a regular user

To create a user alice, with password whiterabbit, you should execute the following GraphQL mutation:

mutation {
  addUser(input: [{name: "alice", password: "whiterabbit"}]) {
    user {
      name
    }
  }
}

Create a group

To create a group dev, you should execute:

mutation {
  addGroup(input: [{name: "dev"}]) {
    group {
      name
      users {
        name
      }
    }
  }
}

Assign a user to a group

To assign the user alice to both the group dev and the group sre, the mutation should be

mutation {
  updateUser(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "alice" } }
      set: { groups: [{ name: "dev" }, { name: "sre" }] }
    }
  ) {
    user {
      name
      groups {
        name
      }
    }
  }
}

Remove a user from a group

To remove alice from the dev group, the mutation should be

mutation {
  updateUser(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "alice" } }
      remove: { groups: [{ name: "dev" }] }
    }
  ) {
    user {
      name
      groups {
        name
      }
    }
  }
}

Delete a User

To delete the user alice, you should execute

mutation {
  deleteUser(filter: { name: { eq: "alice" } }) {
    msg
    numUids
  }
}

Delete a Group

To delete the group sre, the mutation should be

mutation {
  deleteGroup(filter: { name: { eq: "sre" } }) {
    msg
    numUids
  }
}

ACL rules configuration

You can set up ACL rules using the Dgraph Ratel UI or by using a GraphQL tool, such as Insomnia, GraphQL Playground, GraphiQL, etc. You can set the permissions on a predicate for the group using a pattern similar to the UNIX file permission conventions shown below:

Permission Value Binary
READ 4 100
WRITE 2 010
MODIFY 1 001
READ + WRITE 6 110
READ + WRITE + MODIFY 7 111

These permissions represent the following:

  • READ - group has permission to read read the predicate
  • WRITE - group has permission to write or update the predicate
  • MODIFY - group has permission to change the predicate’s schema

The following examples will grant full permissions to predicates to the group dev. If there are no rules for a predicate, the default behavior is to block all (READ, WRITE and MODIFY) operations.

Assign predicate permissions to a group

Here we assign a permission rule for the friend predicate to the group:

mutation {
  updateGroup(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "dev" } }
      set: { rules: [{ predicate: "friend", permission: 7 }] }
    }
  ) {
    group {
      name
      rules {
        permission
        predicate
      }
    }
  }
}

In case you have reverse edges, they have to be given the permission to the group as well

mutation {
  updateGroup(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "dev" } }
      set: { rules: [{ predicate: "~friend", permission: 7 }] }
    }
  ) {
    group {
      name
      rules {
        permission
        predicate
      }
    }
  }
}

In some cases, it may be desirable to manage permissions for all the predicates together rather than individual ones. This can be achieved using the dgraph.all keyword.

The following example provides read+write access to the dev group over all the predicates of a given namespace using the dgraph.all keyword.

mutation {
  updateGroup(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "dev" } }
      set: { rules: [{ predicate: "dgraph.all", permission: 6 }] }
    }
  ) {
    group {
      name
      rules {
        permission
        predicate
      }
    }
  }
}
Note The permissions assigned to a group dev is the union of permissions from dgraph.all and permissions for a specific predicate name. So if the group is assigned READ permission for dgraph.all and WRITE permission for predicate name it will have both, READ and WRITE permissions for the name predicate, as a result of the union.

Remove a rule from a group

To remove a rule or rules from the group dev, the mutation should be:

mutation {
  updateGroup(
    input: {
      filter: { name: { eq: "dev" } }
      remove: { rules: [ "friend", "~friend" ] }
    }
  ) {
    group {
      name
      rules {
        predicate
        permission
      }
    }
  }
}

Querying users and groups

You can set up ACL rules using the Dgraph Ratel UI or by using a GraphQL tool, such as Insomnia, GraphQL Playground, GraphiQL, etc. The permissions can be set on a predicate for the group using using pattern similar to the UNIX file permission convention:

You can query and get information for users and groups. These sections show output that will show the user alice and the dev group along with rules for friend and ~friend predicates.

Query for users

Let’s query for the user alice:

query {
  queryUser(filter: { name: { eq: "alice" } }) {
    name
    groups {
      name
    }
  }
}

The output should show the groups that the user has been added to, e.g.

{
  "data": {
    "queryUser": [
      {
        "name": "alice",
        "groups": [
          {
            "name": "dev"
          }
        ]
      }
    ]
  }
}

Get user information

We can obtain information about a user with the following query:

query {
  getUser(name: "alice") {
    name
    groups {
      name
    }
  }
}

The output should show the groups that the user has been added to, e.g.

{
  "data": {
    "getUser": {
      "name": "alice",
      "groups": [
        {
          "name": "dev"
        }
      ]
    }
  }
}

Query for groups

Let’s query for the dev group:

query {
  queryGroup(filter: { name: { eq: "dev" } }) {
    name
    users {
      name
    }
    rules {
      permission
      predicate
    }
  }
}

The output should include the users in the group as well as the permissions, the group’s ACL rules, e.g.

{
  "data": {
    "queryGroup": [
      {
        "name": "dev",
        "users": [
          {
            "name": "alice"
          }
        ],
        "rules": [
          {
            "permission": 7,
            "predicate": "friend"
          },
          {
            "permission": 7,
            "predicate": "~friend"
          }
        ]
      }
    ]
  }
}

Get group information

To check the dev group information:

query {
  getGroup(name: "dev") {
    name
    users {
      name
    }
    rules {
      permission
      predicate
    }
  }
}

The output should include the users in the group as well as the permissions, the group’s ACL rules, e.g.

{
  "data": {
    "getGroup": {
      "name": "dev",
      "users": [
        {
          "name": "alice"
        }
      ],
      "rules": [
        {
          "permission": 7,
          "predicate": "friend"
        },
        {
          "permission": 7,
          "predicate": "~friend"
        }
      ]
    }
  }
}

Reset Groot Password

If you have forgotten the password to the groot user, then you may reset the groot password (or the password for any user) by following these steps.

  1. Stop Dgraph Alpha.
  2. Turn off ACLs by removing the --acl_hmac_secret config flag in the Alpha config. This leaves the Alpha open with no ACL rules, so be sure to restrict access, including stopping request traffic to this Alpha.
  3. Start Dgraph Alpha.
  4. Connect to Dgraph Alpha using Ratel and run the following upsert mutation to update the groot password to newpassword (choose your own secure password):
    upsert {
      query {
        groot as var(func: eq(dgraph.xid, "groot"))
      }
      mutation {
        set {
          uid(groot) <dgraph.password> "newpassword" .
        }
      }
    }
    
  5. Restart Dgraph Alpha with ACLs turned on by setting the --acl_hmac_secret config flag.
  6. Login as groot with your new password.