Kudu authorization tokens

Learn about authorization tokens which are used by Ranger to propagate and check privileges.

Rather than having every tablet server communicate directly with the underlying authorization service (Ranger), privileges are propagated and checked via authorization tokens. These tokens encapsulate what privileges a user has on a given table. Tokens are generated by the master and returned to Kudu clients upon opening a Kudu table. Kudu clients automatically attach authorization tokens when sending requests to tablet servers.

Authorization tokens are a means to limit the number of nodes directly accessing the authorization service to retrieve privileges. As such, since the expected number of tablet servers in a cluster is much higher than the number of Kudu masters, they are only used to authorize requests sent to tablet servers. Kudu masters fetch privileges directly from the authorization service or cache.

Similar to the validity interval for authentication tokens, to limit the window of potential unwanted access if a token becomes compromised, authorization tokens are valid for five minutes by default. The acquisition and renewal of a token is hidden from the user, as Kudu clients automatically retrieve new tokens when existing tokens expire.

When a tablet server that has been configured to enforce fine-grained access control receives a request, it checks the privileges in the attached token, rejecting it if the privileges are not sufficient to perform the requested operation, or if it is invalid (e.g. expired).