Consistent and Secure Policy Defaults


The OpenStack community is seeking contributors to the Secure Policy Defaults initiative. This ongoing initiative aims to provide set of common roles that will enable secure enforcement of authorization policies across OpenStack projects and deployments.

Business Case

Supporting consistent and secure default RBAC configuration in OpenStack provides the best means to secure your organization’s OpenStack deployment and to make security maintenance less error-prone. This is especially incumbent upon organizations that are subject to security audits and strict regulations for whom OpenStack’s lack of consistent RBAC prohibits production use.

Sponsorship of contributors to this RBAC initiative positions them to influence direction and drive implementation choices on critical infrastructure used by every OpenStack project and every OpenStack deployment – ensuring that an organization’s downstream requirements are fully understood and taken into account.

Because of its use in every OpenStack project, work on this RBAC initiative is a good way to build reputation and influence upstream, and at the same time gain vital in-house expertise for an organization’s downstream deployments or software distributions.

Technical Details

Currently, most OpenStack services have a very binary approach to Role Based Access Control (RBAC) enforcement. This approach usually handicaps new functionality from being exposed to users because users typically do not fall in one of two camps. Contributors either need to lock down the feature to only system administrators, or open it up to nearly every user in the deployment. This is especially true for APIs that expose details about multiple tenants.

Implementing better API protection allows contributors to expose more functionality to end users and operators by default. Lowering the bar for users to access a feature means more opportunities for feedback loops, more end users getting access to the functionality they need, and makes OpenStack more usable overall.

Enhanced Security

OpenStack has a wide variety of users. Auditing APIs and adjusting default access control increases security across the entire OpenStack platform. This exercise gives contributors the ability to provide secure defaults for new deployments. Reasonable default values that are inherently secure makes it easier for organizations with strict security requirement to deploy OpenStack.

Reduced Operational Complexity

Today’s RBAC enforcement implementation lacks secure defaults, but it is somewhat configurable. Deployments that must have a more secure enforcement implementation are forced to maintain arduously complex configuration files. Furthermore, many organizations re-implement similar use cases.


Because policy configuration gives deployments the flexibility to maintain complicated policies at their own expense, it is common to see many organizations solve the same problem. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely organizations are sharing the same solution. This pattern impedes interoperability between deployments, making it frustrating for users interacting with different OpenStack clouds.

Offering a reasonable set of roles and implementing basic RBAC improves interoperability by not requiring each organization to solve the same problem individually.


To contribute to this initiative, join the Secure Default Policies Popup Team. Read the popup team wiki page for references on how to contribute and how to communicate with the team.