Permission Management

Graylog 4.0 introduced a completely new way of assigning permissions to users. The new version splits up the various sections of the permission and authentication system:

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There are five different parts to it:

  • Authentication

  • Users

  • Roles

  • Teams

  • Sharing

Teams and Sharing provides organizations with large user groups and multiple teams accessing Graylog to manage their own content on a day-to-day basis more efficiently. By giving individual teams and users control over their own content needs, these features reduce the time administrators spend responding to access and dashboard requests.

First, Graylog syncs with your organization’s authoritative identity source, such as Active Directory or LDAP, so that users are automatically provisioned into Graylog with the appropriate rights and permissions. Then, Graylog auto-populates access using the current roles and AD or LDAP groups, reflecting the organizational permissions structure. However, organizations can still manually manage access and permissions if necessary.

Second, Graylog Enterprise users can create Teams that can be easily found through a natural language search. For example, you can create teams such as “Security Team,” making it easier to find users with similar data needs. Graylog Enterprise leverages your authoritative identity source to populate Teams. The Teams functionality allows you to separate users into smaller groups within the organization, containing dashboards and reports to those assigned Teams and reducing informational noise generated from an excess of reports.

For smaller teams, the lack of Group Mapping has little impact. Group Mapping and Teams primarily prevent an overabundance of reports showing up in Users’ streams and dashboards. For smaller organizations using Open Source, removing this functionality has little impact. For Enterprise customers, Group Mapping and Teams enables them to reduce the proliferation of reports across all users, confining information to those who need it, reducing noise, and enhancing security.

Authentication

Graylog had pluggable authentication providers for a long time, but we have updated them for 4.0. In 4.0 only one external authentication provider can be active. We have removed the UI around changing the order these providers run, as there was practically no usage of this feature and it made reasoning about what happened in the background very difficult for the user.

Both LDAP and Active Directory continue to be available out of the box for Graylog Open Source and we have no plans on changing this. We believe that user access control is an essential feature of a logging solution. We have also added the “trusted HTTP header” authentication method to Graylog. This feature, in conjunction with a proxy server, is sometimes used to enable authentication providers that Graylog does not have support for, such as keycard systems, Kerberos, and others.

Both LDAP and Active Directory now support the synchronization of teams. Because teams are only available in Graylog Enterprise, the Open Source product no longer has Group Mapping.

In Enterprise Graylog will synchronize chosen LDAP/AD groups to teams when an authentication service is activated. Graylog will then keep the team members up to date as they log into the system.

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Teams created in this way cannot be manually managed in Graylog, they have to be managed in the original identity provider. This means you cannot add or remove members from the team, but you can (and should) configure the roles the team brings with it.

Users

The User section shows a list of existing users including additional information that is useful to get a quick overview.

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There is a new user view screen, that was not present in earlier versions. It shows basic profile information, the assigned roles, team membership for this user, and the “entities” that the user has been granted access to. Entities are things like Streams, Saved Searches, Dashboards, Alert Definitions, and Notifications.

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The corresponding “Edit User” screen contains the same information but allows changes to profile information according to the permissions the user has (e.g. they cannot add themselves to arbitrary groups etc).

Roles

In 4.0, Roles have a more central position. While Graylog still has some of the same Roles, such as Administrator and Reader, it also includes some new ones. Since roles no longer contain information about which access is granted, it makes no sense to map LDAP/AD groups to them, and without Teams, there is no way to automatically group users.

Starting in 4.0, roles in general only describe capabilities. For example, you can now assign Roles like “Dashboard Creator”, “Event Definition Creator”, and “Event Notification Creator”. These Roles are now actions that users can take within Graylog. This permission system is based on grants, like in a database, where it records access to entities based on user access levels. This shift enhances an organization’s security posture by enabling organizations to limit access more precisely within the Graylog platform, reducing excess access risk.

Additionally, since Graylog 4.0 now supports “sharing” functionality, granting access to streams and dashboards is no longer part of the “edit Roles” capability. Standard out-of-the-box roles are:

  • Admin

  • Alerts Manager

  • Archive Manager

  • Archive Viewer

  • Dashboard Creator

  • Event Definition Creator

  • Event Notification Creator

  • Reader

  • Report Creator

  • Report Manager

  • Teams Inspector

  • User Inspector

With Graylog 4.0, Roles no longer define what entities a user can see, but the types of actions they can take. With this update, organizations no longer have the need to create custom roles.

For organizations upgrading to Graylog 4.0, the server will look at each user’s capabilities and access levels then migrate that to the new sharing system.

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The information which specific entity a user or team has access to is managed through “sharing” on the entity itself, not through a role.

As an example, in earlier versions of Graylog, to give access to a stream containing windows logs and the corresponding dashboard visualizing them, an administrator had to create a role: “Windows Logs”, having “Stream Windows Logs” as “Allow Reading”, and “Dashboard Windows Logs” as “Allow Reading”. This role was then assigned to a user, either manually or via a group mapping.

In 4.0, there is no special role necessary for this access. Instead, the Administrator grants access to the stream, and either the Administrator or another owner of the dashboard shares access to the entities with a specific user or team. For most of the process, the user sharing the access does not have to have administrator-level access.

Roles now only govern what actions someone can take, but do not themselves state on which entities these actions can take place. The latter is done through the sharing dialog. (see the later section for details)

In 4.0 the UI does not allow defining new roles, even though this is still possible through the API. As there is much less need to create custom roles, we believe this is acceptable initially, but we plan on making custom roles possible in future releases.

Providing Dashboard Creation Access

Before users can create their own Dashboards, you need to provide them the appropriate level of access.

Under the “System” dropdown menu located in the top menu, click on the “Users and Teams” option. Choose the User record that you want to update.

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In the “Assign Roles” menu, you can change the individual user’s permissions to better align with their job function. In this case, the user, Alice, needs to be able to create Dashboards. Click on “Dashboard Creator,” then click “Assign Role.” Graylog automatically updates the user’s account, granting the necessary access immediately.

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After providing “Dashboard Creator” access to users, they will be able to see the “Create a Dashboard” button on the upper right-hand side of their Dashboards view.

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Teams

Teams join users and roles together. Users can be in any number of teams, from zero to multiple teams. Each team can be assigned any number of roles, from zero to multiple many roles, which are added to the team’s members when checking for permissions.

Currently, team management requires an Administrator account. Now that Roles have transitioned to defining capabilities, Administrators can use Teams as a way to provide Roles to multiple users at once, rather than providing the capabilities individually. For large organizations, this reduces the amount of time spent managing individual user access.

Creating a team requires minimal information about it and allows assigning roles and members directly:

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For example, if an organization has 10 Teams with 5 people on each Team, the Administrator can change Roles in bulk rather than having to manage all 55 users individually. Additionally, Administrators spend less time focusing on Role and Permissions within Graylog as they can apply unique sets of Roles to each Team without worrying that one User will have too much or too little access to engage in their job function.

AD/LDAP Synchronization with Teams

Enterprise organizations can leverage AD/LDAP synchronization, using their authoritative identity source to populate Teams. When a new user is added to the identity source of record, that user is automatically provisioned to the appropriate Graylog Team with all the Permissions everyone else in the Team has.

Sharing

As mentioned above, configuring who has access to something has moved away from the role configuration to the entities themselves. This functionality is available both in the Open Source and Enterprise level versions of Graylog. Any entity shared will be seen by all Users who have similar access levels to those entities. For example, the IT support team may choose to create dashboards which get shared across the organization. For small organizations, this increases noise but can be easily managed. Each entity that is implemented in the new system, which for 4.0 are Searches, Dashboards, Streams, Event Definitions, and Notifications, has a “Share” button associated with them.

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That dialog looks the same for every entity and allows managing the level of access granted to the selected user or team. (Team assignment is only possible in Graylog Enterprise). Just as with Teams, sharing offers three different levels of access:

  • Viewer

  • Manager

  • Owner

Viewer rights mean you can use the entity, but not make any changes to them. Manager rights mean you can edit any aspect about them, including deleting them. Owner rights mean Manager rights, but on top of them, come with the ability to share the entity with additional users. This difference is to prevent privilege escalation: just because I have access to change a dashboard does not mean I should be able to share it with someone else.

For any given user, their profile page lists which entities they have access to, both directly as well as through team membership.

Sharing Streams and Dashboards with Teams

By changing Roles and User attributes, Graylog 4.0 also changes how users gain access to different entities. Instead of placing entity access at the user Profile level, Graylog 4.0 offers a “Sharing” feature similar to those in other applications.

Users who are “Owners” can share entities like Dashboards and Streams with other users.

For Enterprise level use, Sharing stays contained within individual Teams. Thus, individual Teams can create as many reports and Dashboards as they need without decreasing visibility for other teams. For example, if the IT Support Team shares 5 Dashboards, those will only show up for the IT Support Team, not the Security Team.

Sharing within Teams

Before being assigned to a Team, users will see no streams and have no dashboards available. To create a permissions level for a Team, you select the Teams Overview button in the upper righthand corner of the screen. Teams Overview will show you the different Teams you have created in your Graylog environment, including the natural language name and Team description.

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To add users or teams to a stream, go into the Streams menu. Choose the Stream you want to share. Click “Share” to open the sharing dialog.

Once in the sharing dialog, you can choose to give an individual user or a Team access to the stream. Once you provide access to a Team, all users who are members of that Graylog Team will be given access to the Stream.

When you provide Stream access to a Team, you can also change the permissions for the entire Team.

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You can choose to add users individually or by their Team. Choosing Security Team provides everyone the same level of access to the Stream all at once rather than adding each user individually:

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Once you save changes, users on the Team automatically gain access to the Stream.

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Sharing Dashboards within Teams

Graylog restricts Dashboards to Owners by default, meaning that all newly created Dashboards are “private dashboards.” This default setting ensures that Owners specify who can see their Dashboards and prevents data leakages. Owners can choose to share Dashboards with individuals or their Teams so that they can collaborate.

Example: Bob and Alice

Alice creates a Dashboard in her account.

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Bob, another member of her Team, cannot see the Dashboard in his account because the default Dashboard setting is private.

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However, Bob can request that Alice share the Dashboard with him so that they can collaborate. When he requests this access, Alice can choose to share only with Bob or with the whole Team.

Alice then goes to her Dashboard view, chooses the Dashboard she wants to share:

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Once she chooses the Dashboard, she clicks on the “Share” button in the upper right-hand corner:

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Alice can choose to share with a single user or her whole Team. She can also set access permissions as Viewer, Manager, or Owner.

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Once she makes the access decision, she clicks on “Add Collaborator,” which saves the decisions, granting the selected level of access to all collaborators chosen.

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