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OAK-9614 : Document best pratices for Oak Access Control Management a…
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See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

Best Practices when Using Jackrabbit Oak

## Session refresh behavior
<!-- MACRO{toc} -->

## Session Management
### Session refresh behavior

Oak is based on the MVCC model where each session starts with a snapshot
view of the repository. Concurrent changes from other sessions *are not
@@ -51,6 +57,7 @@ In this case the stack trace of the other session involved will also be
logged. For efficiency reasons the stack trace will not be logged if
`DEBUG` level is not enabled.

## Content Modelling
### Large number of direct child node

Oak scales to large number of direct child nodes of a node as long as those
@@ -88,13 +95,7 @@ If the file has no need to be referenceable it is recommended to use the
node type `oak:Resource` instead and add the mixin type `mix:referenceble`
only upon demand (see [OAK-4567](

### Don't use Thread.interrupt()

`Thread.interrupt()` can severely impact or even stop the repository. The reason for
this is that Oak internally uses various classes from the `nio` package that implement
`InterruptibleChannel`, which are [asynchronously closed](
when receiving an `InterruptedException` while blocked on IO. See [OAK-2609](

## Hierarchy Operations
### Tree traversal

As explained in [Understanding the node state model](, Oak stores content in a tree hierarchy.
@@ -115,4 +116,14 @@ d = c.getNode("d"); // preferred way to fetch the ch
// get the parent node
c = session.getNode("/a/b/c");
c = d.getParent(); // preferred way to fetch the parent node
## Security
- [Best Practices for Authorization](

## Misc
### Don't use Thread.interrupt()

`Thread.interrupt()` can severely impact or even stop the repository. The reason for
this is that Oak internally uses various classes from the `nio` package that implement
`InterruptibleChannel`, which are [asynchronously closed](
when receiving an `InterruptedException` while blocked on IO. See [OAK-2609](
@@ -99,6 +99,10 @@ restriction management that allows to narrow the effect of permissions to
items matching a given, defined behavior. Details can be found in section

<a name="best_practices"></a>
### Best Proctices
See section [Best Practices](authorization/bestpractices.html).

<a name="further_reading"></a>
### Further Reading

@@ -0,0 +1,270 @@
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contributor license agreements. See the NOTICE file distributed with
this work for additional information regarding copyright ownership.
The ASF licenses this file to You under the Apache License, Version 2.0
(the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with
the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at
Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

Best Practices for Authorization

<!-- MACRO{toc} -->

## Before you get started
### Threat Model

Before you start coding, creating content or setting up access control set aside some time to consider what is needed
when it comes to securing your application (and what could go wrong). In other words: write a threat model and
make sure you keep updating it as you continue developing.

The following references provide a good overview as well as guidance on how to build a threat model:


### Content Modelling

As suggested in [Jackrabbbit Wiki](,don'tletithappen)
the content hierarchy in your JCR repository should be designed and access control requirements tend to be a good driver.

Make sure the content design allows for readable and manageable access control setup later on to secure your data.
If extra complexity is required, it might indicate problems with your content model. Properly securing your content
secured might subsequently become increasingly hard and prone to mistakes.

### Define Roles and Tasks

Finally, write down basic characteristics and demands of your application without getting into access control details
or making any assumptions on how your needs will reflected in the repository:

- what roles are present
- what kind of tasks are those roles designed to perform
- define if you have services accessing the repository and what kind of tasks they need to complete

Note, that this document should be human readable not go into implementation details:
Instead of writing principal 'content-authors' needs jcr:write on /content, defined that you have an asset 'content',
defined what kind of data it contains and how sensitive the data are (similar to the threat model).
Then identify what roles are going to interact with these data and how they interact: for example you may identify
a role that is just reading data, a second role that is expected to read and write and a third one that is will only
approve new content and publish it).

## General Best Practices

### Know how to get what you need

Familiarize yourself with JCR access control management and Oak authorization design and extensions before starting
to edit the permission setup of your Oak installation. This will help you avoid common pitfalls. If you find yourself
granting your _content-writers_ role full access to just get it work, you probably left your application vulnerable.

- JCR Specification sections [Access Control Management](
and [Permissions and Capabilities](
- [Oak Authorization Documentation](../authorization.html) with separate sections for [Access Control Management](../accesscontrol.html) and [Permission Evaluation](../permission.html).
- Exercises for authorization topics below

### Principle of least privilege

Keep in mind that not having any permissions granted is equivalent to denying everything (which is in
this case redundant). Start without any access and then keep granting permissions as needed, following the
[principle of least privilege](
In other words: only grant the minimal set of privileges required to perform a particular task.

### Verification

Write tests upfront that verify for each role and task the expected effective permissions (see definition of roles) are
granted. Neither less nor more.

Ideally, your tests will fail as soon as someone is attempting to make any change to the permission setup.
Granting additional permissions may open up the door for a privilege escalation and revoking permissions will break
your application (if it doesn't you didn't follow the principle of least privilege).

This may also include tests verify that really no permissions are granted at resources that are outside the scope of a
given role/task

## Oak Specific Best Practices

### Avoid deny

All authorization models present with Apache Jackrabbbit Oak start without any access granted by default i.e.
implicit deny everywhere. It is therefore recommended to only grant access where needed and avoid adding explicit
deny access control entries. In particular in combination with subsequent allows the overall effect will be hard to
understand as soon as multiple principals are contained in a given subject.

Be wary if you find yourself adding combinations of denies and allows as it might highlight problematic patterns in
your content model that will be hard to secure over time.

### Avoid redundancy

Don't specify redundant access control setup just to be on the safe side:

- If access is granted, avoid repeating the same setup down the hierarchy.
- Avoid setup for principals with administrative access for which permission evaluation is omitted. It might even create a false sense of security.

### Principal by principle

Oak authorization is designed to work with `` which is an abstract representation of any kind of
entity like e.g. individual, a role, a corporation, a login id or even an service.

While JCR specification does not define how the repository knows about principals, Jackrabbit API defines a
[Principal Management](../principal.html) extension.

#### Not every principal is a user/group

Oak allows plugging custom sources of principals which are all reflected through the principal management API.
Therefore, don't assume that every principal is backed by a user or a group. The repository's user management is just
one potential source of principals.

##### Example : everyone

# everyone always exists even if there is no such group in the user management

PrincipalManager principalMgr = ((JackrabbitSession) session).getPrincipalManagere();
Principal everyone = principalManager.getEveryone()

#### Membership is no guarantee

Similarly, make sure you evaluate permissions to verify if a subject has access granted instead of checking if a user
is member of a group. How access control defined for a particular group principal affects its members is an
implementation detail of the authorization setup.

##### Example : administrative access

In the default authorization model full administrative access can be configured for arbitrary principals.
So, don't assume that there is a group 'administrators' and that its members have full access.

#### Stick with group principals

It is preferable to setup access control for group principals instead of individual user principals and then make sure
your `PrincipalProvider` resolves principal membership according to your needs.

Further note, that the default authorization model will give precedence to user principals upon evaluation in other words
default access control entries for user principals will overwrite the effect of groups irrespective of the order in the list (see next section).

### Understand default access control and permission management

#### Remember inheritance

When designing your access control setup keep in mind that effective permissions are inherited
down the node hierarchy: allowing `jcr:read` for _content-readers_ role on /content will also grant _content-readers_
access to all nodes and properties in the subtree (e.g. /content/project1 or /content/project1/jcr:title).

In addition, effective permissions get inherited through (nested) group principals according to the set of
principals resolved and added to the `` upon repository login.

See [Permission Evaluation in Detail](../permission/evaluation.html) for additional information as well as the
exercises at [L3_PrecedenceRulesTest](

#### Built-in privileges

JSR 382 defines a set of built-in privileges and how they apply to repository operations (see
The default set has been extended by Oak to cover additional features outside of the scope defined by JCR (like e.g. index
or user management). The complete list can be found in [Privilege Management : The Default Implementation](../privilege/default.html).

The minimal set of privileges required for each repository operation can be looked up in [Mapping API Calls to Privileges](../privilege/mappingtoprivileges.html)
and [Mapping Privileges to Items](../privilege/mappingtoitems.html).

##### Privileges affecting the parent node

Note in particular for add/removing a node `jcr:addChildNodes` and `jcr:removeChildNodes` are required on
the parent node respectively i.e. allowing for modification of the child-node collection.
In addition `jcr:removeNode` needs to be granted on the target node of the removal.

Thus the following subtle difference apply when evaluation effective permissions vs. privileges (see
also [Permissions vs Privileges](../permission/permissionsandprivileges.html)) and exercises at

String parentPath = /content/parent
String toRemove = /content/parent/child
String toAdd = /content/parent/newchild

Session session = ...

# Testing Privileges
# ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AccessControlManager acMgr = session.getAccessControlManager();
Privilege jcrAddChildNodes = acMgr.privilegeFromName(Privilege.JCR_ADD_CHILD_NODES)
Privilege jcrRemoveChildNodes = acMgr.privilegeFromName(Privilege.JCR_REMOVE_CHILD_NODES)
Privilege jcrRemoveNode = acMgr.privilegeFromName(JCR_REMOVE_NODE)

# test if (unspecified) child nodes can be added/removed from the parent
acMgr.hasPrivileges(parentPath, new Privilege[]{jcrAddChildNodes, jcrRemoveChildNodes}

# test if existing child node can be removed
acMgr.hasPrivileges(toRemove, new Privilege[]{jcrRemoveNode}

# Testing Permissions (on the target node NOT on the parent)
# ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

# test if not-yet existing node could be added at /content/parent/newchild
session.hasPermission(toAdd, Session.ACTION_ADD_NODE)

# test if the existing child node can be removed
session.hasPermission(toRemove, Session.ACTION_REMOVE)
session.hasPermission(toRemove, JackrabbitSession.ACTION_REMOVE_NODE)

# test if a non-existing node could be removed (not possible with privilege evaluation)
session.hasPermission(nonExisting, JackrabbitSession.ACTION_REMOVE_NODE

#### Use restrictions to limit effect

Apart from picking the minimal set of privileges you can further minimize the risk of privilege escalation by
narrowing the effect of a given access control setup on certain items in the subtree. This is achieved by creating
access control entries that come with an additional restriction.

See section [Restriction Management](restriction.html) for additional details as well as lessons [L7_RestrictionsTest](
and [L8_GlobRestrictionTest](
in the Oak exercise module.

#### Access control setup for system user

If your Oak setup supports principal-based authorization (see [Managing Access by Principal](principalbased.html)) it is
recommended to leverage it for system sessions associated with OSGi service. It helps to keep application owned
access control setup apart from regular content.

See also [Service Authentication]( in
Apache Sling.

### Leverage customizations

Oak allows for customization and extensions of all parts of the authorization setup.
If you find yourself struggling to reflect your needs with the built-in functionality, consider extending and customizing
the authorization configuration of the repository.

#### Leverage custom privileges

If you identify application specific operations that cannot be reflected using the built in privileges, Oak allows to
register custom privileges (see section [Privilege Management](../privilege.html#jackrabbit_api)).

Note however, that the built-in permission evaluation will not enforce those
custom privileges. Instead you have to enforce it in your application or by writing a custom authorization model
(see section [Combining Multiple Authorization Models](composite.html))

In the example above you might find that publishing content cannot easily be secured using built-in privileges and end
up registering a custom _myapp:publish_ privilege.

#### Leverage custom restrictions

Default authorization in Oak allows to limit the effect of invidual JCR access control entries by means of restrictions.
See section [Restriction Management](restriction.html) for the built-in restrictions and instructions on how to plug
custom restrictions into the security setup.

#### Leverage a custom authorization model

If you find that that built-in authorization model is not suited to reflect your needs and setting up access control
becomes cumbersome and overly complex, consider customizing authorization setup (see section [Combining Multiple Authorization Models](composite.html)).

The _oak-exercise_ module defines a couple of [examples](
to illustrate alternative approaches. The corresponding training material is located in section
[Advanced Authorization Topics](
@@ -15,13 +15,13 @@
limitations under the License.

Permission Evaluation in Detail
Default Permission Evaluation in Detail

<a name="permissionentries"></a>
### Order and Evaluation of Permission Entries

In order to evaluate the permissions for a given item, the `PermissionProvider`
In order to evaluate the permissions for a given item, the default `PermissionProvider`
lazily builds an iterator of `PermissionsEntry` representing the rep:Permission
present in the permission store that take effect for the given set of principals
at the given node (or property).

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