Apache Ranger

CDAP Ranger Authorization Extension

Apache Ranger is centralized security framework used to manage authorization privileges. Read more


CDAP Ranger extension consists of three major components:

  1. CDAP Ranger Loookup: Enables Ranger to lookup CDAP entities.
  2. CDAP Ranger Binding: Enables CDAP to use privileges in Ranger for enforcement.
  3. CDAP Ranger Service Definition: Defines CDAP as a service and it's resources in Ranger.


Before enabling CDAP Authorization please read the following documentation.

Installing CDAP Lookup in Ranger

  1. Create a new folder called cdap under your Ranger plugins directory. Typically on Ambari clusters it is: /usr/hdp/current/ranger-admin/ews/webapp/WEB-INF/classes/ranger-plugins

    mkdir cdap

    cd cdap

  2. Move the CDAP Ranger Lookup jar to the cdap plugin directory created above.

    mv path-to-jar/cdap-ranger-lookup-[version]-jar-with-dependencies.jar ./

  3. Change permission to the cdap plugin directory (if required)

    chown -R ranger:ranger cdap/

  4. Restart Ranger service

Adding CDAP as a service in Ranger

  1. You can use the `ranger-servicedef-cdap.json <https://github.com/caskdata/cdap-security-extn/blob/develop/cdap-ranger/cdap-ranger-lookup/src/main/resources/ranger-servicedef-cdap.json>`__ to add CDAP as a service in Ranger

    curl -u ranger-admin-user:ranger-admin-password -X POST -H "Accept: application/json" -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d @ranger-servicedef-cdap.json http://rangerhost:rangerport/service/plugins/definitions

  2. Now go to the Ranger Admin UI and click on the + button for CDAP service.

  1. Fill in the details of your CDAP instance.
Configuration Definition Example
Service Name Name of this service cdapdev
Username Username to use to connect to cdap instance username
Password Password for the above user password
Instance URL CDAP instance URL mycdaphost:router-port
Add New Configuration    
policy.download.auth.users User allowed to download policies cdap
policy.grantrevoke.auth.users User allowed to grant/revoke cdap

Note: CDAP username and password is only needed if you want lookup of (auto completion of entity names) CDAP entities in Ranger Admin UI. This user must have authorization for the entities to be able to look it up. Please see documentation below on how to add these privileges. Although, it is not necessary for this user to have authorization on all entities. In this case you will not be able to use auto completion of entity names in Ranger Admin UI and will have to type complete entity names.

  1. Click on Test Connection button to test that Ranger can successfully establish connection with CDAP.
  1. Now click on Add button, this will add the CDAP service in Ranger.
  2. Once the CDAP service is added in Ranger you will see that Ranger creates some default wildcard policies without any users/groups assigned to it.

Optional: As mentioned earlier if you want Ranger to be able to lookup CDAP entities you will need to give the connecting user specified during service definition ANY (READ, WRITE, EXECUTE or ADMIN) privilege on all entities. You can just go ahead and add that user with some permission to the above existing policies. Note: This is an optional step. You can still use CDAP Ranger Extension without granting the above connecting user ANY privilege on all the resource although you will not be able to use lookup feature in Ranger and will have to manually type complete entity names.


Installing CDAP Authorization Binding for Enforcement

  1. Put the Ranger CDAP configuration xml files under some path which is accessible to cdap user. For example:

    mkdir /usr/local/ranger-cdap-conf

  2. Put the following three files in this directory

  • ranger-cdap-audit.xml
  • ranger-cdap-security.xml
  • ranger-policymgr-ssl.xml

You can download a CDAP specific sample here. You might need to modify these configuration files according to your environment but the default will work fine in most cases.

  1. Edit the ranger-cdap-security.xml file
Configuration Definition Example
ranger.plugin.cdap.policy. rest.url Name of this service http://ra ngerhost: port
ranger.plugin.cdap.service .name Service name given in Ranger while adding CDAP cdapdev
  1. Give cdap user permission on the above created directory and configuration files

    chown -R cdap:cdap /usr/local/ranger-cdap-conf/

  2. Move the CDAP Ranger Binding jar to correct directory (if needed) and give cdap permissions on it

    mv /cdap-ranger-binding-0.1.0.jar /opt/cdap/master/ext/security/

    chown cdap:cdap cdap-ranger-binding-0.1.0.jar

  3. Edit the CDAP configuration in Ambari Admin UI and add the following in the custom cdap-site.xml section

  1. Save and Restart CDAP.

Policy Management

Policies on mid-level entities

CDAP Policies can be managed in Ranger just like other service policies. Please read the Ranger documentation on Policy management to learn more.

CDAP Ranger Plugin allows to grant policies on mid-level entities in CDAP entity hierarchy by specifying * for lower level and marking them as exclude. For example the below screenshot shows the policy on namespace:default. Notice that the value for application and program are * and they are marked as exclude.


Wildcard Policies

CDAP Ranger plugin allows to grant wildcard policies on entities. The supported wildcards are * and ?. * wildcard in Ranger matches 0 or more characters. CDAP does not expect wildcard * to match 0 characters (absence of value) so a * should always be prefixed with ?. For example to grant a user privilege on all programs the wildcard value should be as shown below.


A Case Study

Consider a common use case for secure environments, especially data lakes:

  • There are different "categories" of data. For example, click events, financial data, operational metrics, etc.
  • Users typically have access to some but not all data. Therefore, data that is commonly accessed together, is grouped into a category, for example, finance.
  • All data in a category is owned by a headless service account, and access to the data is given through group permissions or similar, more coarse, privilege roles.
  • Nobody ever logs on as the headless service account.
  • The applications and pipelines that create and process the data are managed by Operators, that is, real persons who log on to the UI with their own user name and password.
  • Consumers of the data are data scientists (real persons) or downstream applications (headless).

In CDAP, this is implemented as a namespace that impersonates the headless service account. Let's study such a use case at the hand of an example. Suppose that:

  • There are two data categories: finance and clicks, represented as namespaces of the name names.
  • Each namespace is owned and impersonated by a headless user: svcfinance and svcclicks, respectively.
  • These headless users have a keytab associated with them, which will be used to impersonate the corresponding Kerberos principals.
  • All data in each namespace is owned by the headless user, and all data pipelines in that namespace are run as the corresponding Kerberos principal.
  • Alice and Bob are both operators and they deploy, manage and monitor the pipelines in all namespaces.

In a cluster with Ranger authorization, what are the Ranger policies required to enable this scenario? Let’s go through the steps:

1. To begin with, we need two Unix users with Kerberos principals and keytab files that will allow impersonating them:


Note that these key tabs must be readable for the cdap system account.

  1. To create the clicks namespace, Alice logs into the CDAP UI. Initially, she cannot access any namespaces:

To allow her the creation of these two namespaces with impersonation, we need to give her privileges on the principals and the namespaces in Ranger:


Here, we give Alice ADMIN right on any principal starting with svc. If you need more control, you can also give an explicit list of principals, as we do here for the namespaces:


Due to a limitation in Ranger, it is not possible to assign policies for “intermediate” entities in the entity hierarchy. Because of that, we need to use the work-around above: Specify * for both the application and the program, and select “exclude” for both of them. This is the way to define a policy for a namespace.

  1. Now Alice can create the two namespaces, for example, clicks:
_images/ranger-case-study-create-ns.png _images/ranger-case-study-create-ns2.png _images/ranger-case-study-create-ns3.png _images/ranger-case-study-create-ns4.png
  1. Now let’s create a pipeline. Without additional policies in Ranger, this will fail:

We are required to give Alice ADMIN privileges on the pipeline applications she deploys.

Note that in CDAP, an application is a group of programs that logically belong together. A pipeline is an application with the same name as the pipeline. It contains the Data Pipeline Workflow and the MapReduce or Spark programs that execute the pipeline. For deploying the pipeline, we need ADMIN rights on this application. Here, we give these rights for all applications in the namespace, that is, Alice can deploy any pipeline:


Similar to namespace policies, we need to work around a ranger limitation to assign policies to an application. Enter ?* for "application" and * for "program" and select “exclude” for the program.

Now let’s try to deploy the pipeline again:


This still fails because the pipeline is trying to create the datasets for its source and sink, but we have not given any privileges on datasets yet. Because the pipeline is impersonated as the service account svcclicks, we must assign these privileges to that user. Strictly speaking, only ADMIN is required to create the datasets, but later on, when we run the pipeline, it will need read and write access, too. Therefore, we just assign all these privileges now:


With this, pipeline deployment succeeds.

5. Let’s run the pipeline to ingest some data. Starting the pipeline is equivalent to starting the DataPipelineWorkflow program of the pipeline’s application. This fails with insufficient privileges. However, the error message does not make this obvious:


Because Alice has no privileges at all on the pipeline’s programs, it is also not allowed to find out about their existence. Therefore, the platform APIs return a “Not Found” error for this request. This can be confusing at first - however, it is common practice for secure APIs to behave this way.

Let’s assign the missing privileges to Alice:


Note that only the EXECUTE privilege is required to start or stop a pipeline run, and the ADMIN privilege is needed to schedule the pipeline.

Now Alice can run this pipeline:


6. We can repeat these steps to assign similar privileges to Bob, or to enable the finance namespace. Also, we could assign privileges to groups rather than individuals - that will make our policies easier to manage over time, especially when new operators enter the team, or existing ones leave: that will simply require adding or removing a user from the group.


We have created a namespace that is impersonated by a headless service account; and we have given privileges to a human user to deploy and operate pipelines in the namespace. To summarize all the privileges we had to assign:

  • For the headless service principal:
    • ADMIN, READ and WRITE on the datasets in the namespace, required to create, manage, read, and write data;
  • For the human operator:
    • ADMIN privilege on the service user’s kerberos principal, required to configure a namespace to impersonate that user;
    • ADMIN on the namespace, required to create and operate the namespace;
    • ADMIN on the applications in the namespace, required to create and operate pipelines;
    • EXECUTE and ADMIN on the programs in the namespace. EXECUTE is required to run a pipeline and ADMIN is required to schedule runs.

This concludes the case study.