Fine-grained entitlements in Amazon Redshift: A case study from TrustLogix

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This post is co-written with Srikanth Sallaka from TrustLogix as the lead author.

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TrustLogix is a cloud data access governance platform that monitors data usage to discover patterns, provide insights on least privileged access controls, and manage fine-grained data entitlements across data lake storage solutions like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), data warehouses like Amazon Redshift, and transactional databases like Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Aurora.

In this post, we discuss how TrustLogix integrates with Amazon Redshift row-level security (RLS) to help data owners express granular data entitlements in business terms and consistently enforce them.

The challenge: Dynamic data authorization

In this post, we discuss two customer use cases:

  • Data access based on enterprise territory assignments – Sales representatives should only be able to access data in the opportunities dataset for their assigned territories. This customer wants to grant access to the dataset based on a criteria, an attribute of dataset, such as geographic area, industry, and revenue. The criteria is an attribute of the dataset. The challenge is that this access control policy should be applied by Amazon Redshift regardless of the platform from where the data is accessed.
  • Entitlement-based data access – One of TrustLogix’s customers is a fortune 500 financial services firm. They use Amazon Redshift to store and perform analysis on a wide range of datasets, like advertising research, pricing to customers, and equity markets. They share this data with traders, quants, and risk managers. This internal data is also consumed by various users across the firm, but not every user is entitled to see all the data. To track this data and access requests, this firm spent a great deal of resources in building a comprehensive list of permissions that define which business user is entitled to what data. A simple scenario is that this entitlement table contains the customer_id and Book_id values assigned to specific user_id values. Any queries on the trade data table, which is tagged as sensitive data, should enforce this policy. The challenge is that these data entitlements should be enforced centrally in Amazon Redshift regardless of the tool from which they are accessed. Data owners should be able to manage this policy with a simple access control policy management interface and shouldn’t be required to know the internals of Amazon Redshift to implement complex procedures.

User-defined function (UDF) and secure view-based implementation

At present, to define fine-grained access controls in Amazon Redshift, TrustLogix is using custom Amazon Redshift user-defined functions (UDFs) and views to author policies from the TrustLogix policy management console and granting users access to the view.

This process involves three steps:

  1. Create a user-defined function that returns a Boolean whenever the conditions of the policy match.
  2. Create a view by joining the UDF and base table.
  3. Grant access to the new view to the appropriate users or groups.
  4. Block direct table access to all users.

Native row-level security (RLS) policies in Amazon Redshift

The row-level security (RLS) feature in Amazon Redshift simplifies design and implementation of fine-grained access to the rows in tables. With RLS, you can restrict access to a subset of rows within a table based on the user’s job role or permissions and level of data sensitivity with SQL commands. By combining column-level access control and RLS, you can provide comprehensive protection by enforcing granular access to your data. TrustLogix integrates with this feature to let their customers specify custom SQL queries and dictate what sets of data are accessible by which users.

TrustLogix is now using the RLS feature to address both use cases mentioned earlier. This reduces the complexity of managing additional UDF functions or secure views and additional grants.

“We’re excited about this deeper level of integration with Amazon Redshift. Our joint customers in security-forward and highly regulated sectors including financial services, healthcare, and pharmaceutical need to have incredibly fine-grained control over which users are allowed to access what data, and under which specific contexts. The new row-level security capabilities will allow our customers to precisely dictate data access controls based on their business entitlements while abstracting them away from the technical complexities. The new Amazon Redshift RLS capability will enable our joint customers to model policies at the business level, deploy and enforce them via a security-as-code model, ensuring secure and consistent access to their sensitive data.”

– Ganesh Kirti, Founder & CEO, TrustLogix Inc.

TrustLogix integration with RLS

Let’s look at our two use cases and how to implement TrustLogix integration with RLS.

Data access based on territories

The data owner logs in to the TrustLogix control plane and authors a data access policy using the business-friendly UI.

TrustLogix login page

TrustLogix auto-generates the following Amazon Redshift RLS policy, attaches it to the appropriate table, and turns on the RLS on this table.

Create RLS POLICY OPPORTUNITIES_BY_REGION 
WITH (region VARCHAR(256))
USING (region IN (SELECT region FROM Territories_Mgmt WHERE user_id = current_user));

Then you can use the following grant statement on the table:

Grant Select on table Sales.opportunities to role SalesRepresentative;

After this policy is deployed into the Amazon Redshift data warehouse, any user who queries this table automatically gets only authorized data.

Entitlement-based data access

Similar to the first use case, TrustLogix creates two separate RLS policies, one on the book_id and another with customer_id, attaching both the policies on the trade details table.

Create RLS POLICY entitlement_book_id_rls with ( book_id integer) using (book_id in (select book_id from entitlements);
Create RLS Policy entitlemen_Customer_id_rls with (Customer_id integer)Using (customer_id in (select customer_id from customer_details.customer_id =Customer_id and user_id = current_user ));
Attach RLS POLICY entitlement_book_id_rls on trade_details to Role Trader;
Attach RLS POLICY entitlemen_Customer_id_rls on trade_details to Role Trader;

In this case, Amazon Redshift evaluates both attached policies using the AND operator, with the effect that users with the Trader role get view-only access for only those customers and books that the Trader role is granted.

Additional TrustLogix and Amazon Redshift integration benefits

The following diagram illustrates how TrustLogix integrates with Amazon Redshift.

TrustLogix and RLS diagram

This robust new integration offers many powerful security, productivity, and collaboration benefits to joint Amazon Redshift and TrustLogix customers:

  • A single pane of glass to monitor and manage fine-grained data entitlements across multiple Amazon Redshift data warehouses, AWS data stores including Amazon S3 and Aurora, and other cloud data repositories such as Snowflake and Databricks
  • Monitoring of data access down to the user and tool level to prevent shadow IT, identify overly granted access permissions, discover dark data, and ensure compliance with legislative mandates like GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, and PCI
  • A no-code model that enables security as code, ensures consistency, reduces work, and eliminates errors

Summary

The RLS capability in Amazon Redshift delivers granular controls for restricting data. TrustLogix has delivered an integration that reduces the effort, complexity, and dependency of creating and managing complex user-defined functions to fully take advantage of this capability.

Furthermore, TrustLogix doesn’t need to create additional views, which reduces management of user grants on other derived objects. By using the RLS policies, TrustLogix has simplified creating authorization policies for fine-grained data entitlements in Amazon Redshift. You can now provision both coarse-grained and granular access controls within minutes to enable businesses to deliver faster access to analytics while simultaneously tightening your data access controls.


About the authors

Srikanth Sallaka is Head of Product at TrustLogix. Prior to this he has built multiple SaaS and on-premise Data Security and Identity Management solutions. He has honed his Product Management and technical skills working at large enterprise like Oracle, SAP & multiple startups.

Yanzhu Ji is a Product Manager on the Amazon Redshift team. She worked on the Amazon Redshift team as a Software Engineer before becoming a Product Manager. She has rich experience of how the customer-facing Amazon Redshift features are built from planning to launching, and always treats customers’ requirements as first priority. In her personal life, Yanzhu likes painting, photography, and playing tennis.

Author: Subham

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