Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Exploring Apache Knox - part VII

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts exploring some of the security features of Apache Knox. The previous post looked at how to achieve single sign-on using the Knox SSO service, where the Knox SSO service was configured to authenticate the user to a third party SAML SSO provider. In this post we are going to move away from authenticating users, and look at how we can authorize access to Apache Knox using Apache Ranger.

As a prerequisite to this tutorial, follow the first tutorial to set up Apache Knox as well as the backend Apache Hadoop cluster we are trying to obtain a file from.

1) Install the Apache Ranger Knox plugin

First we will install the Apache Ranger Knox plugin. Download Apache Ranger and verify that the signature is valid and that the message digests match. Now extract and build the source, and copy the resulting plugin to a location where you will configure and install it:
  • mvn clean package assembly:assembly -DskipTests
  • tar zxvf target/ranger-${version}-knox-plugin.tar.gz
  • mv ranger-${version}-knox-plugin ${ranger.knox.home}
Now go to ${ranger.knox.home} and edit "". You need to specify the following properties:
  • POLICY_MGR_URL: Set this to "http://localhost:6080"
  • REPOSITORY_NAME: Set this to "KnoxTest".
  • KNOX_HOME: The location of your Apache Knox installation
Save "" and install the plugin as root via "sudo ./". The Apache Ranger Knox plugin should now be successfully installed. One thing to check for is that the user who is running Apache Knox has the correct permissions to read the policy cache ("/etc/ranger/KnoxTest/policycache"). Now restart Apache Knox before proceeding.

2) Create a topology in Apache Knox for authorization

Even though we have installed the Apache Ranger plugin in Knox, we need to enable it explicitly in a topology. Copy "conf/topologies/sandbox.xml" to "conf/topologies/sandbox-ranger.xml" and add the following provider:
Now let's try to access the file using the admin credentials:
  • curl -u admin:admin-password -kL https://localhost:8443/gateway/sandbox-ranger/webhdfs/v1/data/LICENSE.txt?op=OPEN
You should get a 403 Forbidden error due to an authorization failure.

3) Create authorization policies in the Apache Ranger Admin console

Next we will use the Apache Ranger admin console to create authorization policies for Apache Knox. Follow the steps in this tutorial to install the Apache Ranger admin service. Before starting the Ranger admin service, edit 'conf/ranger-admin-site.xml' and add the following properties:
  • ranger.truststore.file - ${knox.home}/data/security/keystores/gateway.jks
  • ranger.truststore.password - security
Start the Apache Ranger admin service with "sudo ranger-admin start" and open a browser and go to "http://localhost:6080/" and log on with "admin/admin". Add a new Knox service in the Ranger admin UI with the following configuration values:
  • Service Name: KnoxTest
  • Username: admin
  • Password: admin-password
  • knox.url: https://localhost:8443/gateway/admin/api/v1/topologies
Now click on the "KnoxTest" service that we have created. Click on the policy that is automatically created, and note that the "admin" user already has the "Allow" permission for all Knox topologies and services. Wait for the policy to sync to the plugin, and the curl call we executed above should now work:
  • curl -u admin:admin-password -kL https://localhost:8443/gateway/sandbox-ranger/webhdfs/v1/data/LICENSE.txt?op=OPEN
whereas using the "guest" credentials ("guest"/"guest-password") should be denied, as we have not created a matching authorization policy in Ranger.

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