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Subject: Re: [xacml] Minutes 7 March TC Meeting - action on ambiguity wrt set of returned Obligations, Advice
Hi David, On 15/03/2013 10:15 PM, David Chadwick wrote:
I think we need to take the discussion up one level initially, and ask what does it mean for different policies to permit (or deny) access providing its specific obligations are fulfilled, regardless of any other policies decisions or obligations? Surely this only has meaning if the combining rule says it does. So if the combining rule is permit overrides, and one policy grants access without any obligations, then all other policies granting access with obligations are irrelevant.
Or maybe the writer of the policy without obligations was supposed to add those obligations but neglected to do so. One of the motivations for me building the OAA was the realization that the people creating access policies are not necessarily the people who care about the obligations, especially in an environment where delegation is in use. For example, auditors care about obligations for auditing and logging, but project leaders setting access controls for their project's resources are far removed from those cares. Enabling the decoupling of obligation processing from decision processing using the OAA means that the auditors can determine when the obligations they care about are returned without having to rely on delegates to know, or do, anything about those obligations.
Each policy is not working in isolation (if it were there would not be an issue) but one might consider that all policies are competing with each other for their decision to be the most important one.
Or cooperating. What you're talking about is obligations that depend not only on what access is granted/denied, but also on how that access is granted/denied, i.e., the reason for the decision. Since obligations can be about anything, we are going to find that some only depend on the "what" and some depend on the "what" and the "how", though the use cases I've encountered so far only depend on the "what". Fortunately, I can handle both with the OAA. > Thus the
combining rule is the meta policy that adjudicates the results of the competition. If we want there to be ordering and selection between obligations, then we surely first need some new combining algorithms that say how this is to take place, such as Majority wins (and all their obligations are enforced)
There is no existing combining rule like this, but if there were, then I expect that the relevant set of OA policies would be combined using deny-overrides.
Permit overrides with all obligations enforced
By combining the relevant set of OA policies using deny-overrides.
Permit providing there are no conflicting obligations
By combining the relevant set of OA policies using only-one-applicable. Or if the obligations always conflict no matter what the situation, then they can be described such that PEP cannot satisfy the obligations in combination and the access will be denied by the PEP.
Permit in priority order
By combining the relevant set of OA policies using first-applicable. If the first applicable OA policy doesn't actually have any obligations, then the combining OA policy set doesn't return any obligations, thus suppressing the obligations when the situation warrants it. This is also due to deliberate construction, not the result of neglecting to do something. The OA policies could also be constructed with conditions that exclude the situations where the obligations are intended to be suppressed.
By etc. :-) Regards, Steven
Without these higher level rules the obligation enforcement function will not know what behaviour is expected of it regards David On 15/03/2013 08:58, Erik Rissanen wrote:With context I meant that an obligation only applies if a certain set of conditions permitted/denied the access. This is not about definitions and precedence of obligations. Like someone (Mohammad?) already said on the list, putting the obligations separately would lead to redundancies of the access decision conditions. I haven't thought about it much, but there are at least the following to consider about obligations: - The "consequence" of an obligation, that is, what the PEP has to do to enforce it. - Related to the consequence are various "guarantees" about the enforcement, such as order, atomicity/rollback, etc, which perhaps should be managed independently, and could interact with other obligations. - "When" an obligation applies. Today this is defined by the same policies as the access policies for the decision itself. There probably are good reasons for having it like this, I would think because the access policies define the various ways of permitting and denying access. The conditions for obligations probably are highly co-variant with the access conditions in most cases. - Resolving "conflicting" obligations. We don't have anything about this in XACML explicitly, but by writing the right policies, conflicts could at least in theory be avoided, but it might not be nice to work in this way. This is somewhat analogous to combining algorithms in that in a sense combining algorithms are just syntactic sugar, since one could live without combining algorithms if one would always write the policies such that individual rules can never conflict. But it's easier to work with the rules if one can define rules and exceptions through combining algorithms. Something similar probably applies to obligations as well. - Finding "all applicable" obligations. Again, there is nothing explicit in XACML for this, but by writing the right policies, one can make sure you get "all applicable" obligations, whatever that means. The choice of combining algorithms and how you split up your rule target/conditions make this possible. Again, maybe there should be something which makes this task easier. Best regards, Erik On 2013-03-14 17:26, Bill Parducci wrote:I think this may be resolved by allowing the "Obligation Set" (Obligations falling out from Policy Evaluation) to be "combined" by an authority which has access to unambiguous definitions and precedence. This would address the context concern and separate what I believe will ultimately be some fairly complex logic from basic evaluation. I do not think a Profile will solve anything but the most specific and brittle use case because all of this would have to be spelled out explicitly. b On Mar 14, 2013, at 9:11 AM, Erik Rissanen <email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:There is the problem of the context of an obligation in relation to the authorization policy and the rules for the decision. They are not independent, which suggests that obligation processing should be part of the policy evaluation. And like you say, the obligation lexicon is unbounded, which is a problem. I would think that any obligation combining mechanism will require obligation declarations of some kind. If the solution has to handle any obligation of any kind without any kind of metadata, then the problem is likely to be impossibly to solve, or the solution will consist of a language which has to be used to "hand code" on a case by case basis each obligation instance which is being processed. Erik On 2013-03-14 16:45, Bill Parducci wrote:Agreed re: Policy evaluation. This is why I am personally warming to the concept of an Obligation Authority posted by others on the list. I do not believe that Policy evaluation should attempt to resolve this problem because: (1) the machinery necessary to address Obligations there will likely lead to a significant increase in complexity and overheard for basic evaluation: (2) as I have asserted for years, Obligations have a definitional issue that requires an authority higher than a Policy to resolve. It is relatively easy for us to come to agreement on the meanings of "Permit|Deny" ("Indeterminate" took a bit more wrangling :), but the Obligation lexicon is unbounded and not only requires a mechanism for registering Obligation types IMO, but also must have a mechanism for defining precedence for each "family" type as well (e.g. encrypt AES-256 > encrypt 3-DES). Anyway, I am excited that TC is taking a serious look at this now. It is a fascinating topic and I believe that should we be able to come up with a cogent solution it will greatly add to the value of the XACML specification. b On Mar 14, 2013, at 8:29 AM, Hal Lockhart <email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>> wrote:Just to add to the historical record, Obligation support was optional in XACML 2.0 and prior versions. The view taken was that the highest priority was to calculate the Effect as rapidly as possible and that Obligations were a sort of frill. There was also some concern about some IPR IBM disclosed relating to Obligations. IBM subsequently issued a non-assert statement for a large number of patents including those relating to Obligations. Partly as a result, we decide to make Obligations MTI in V 3.0, but did not address all the implications of the new viewpoint. The TC is free to reconsider these and other decisions at any time. However I think any change to Policy evaluation would require a Version 4.0. I propose we first see how many of the requirements for Obligations implied by the Healthcare Obligation Profile, the Obligation Families Spec and other sources can be met without changing the current PDP behavior. Then if it seems warranted we can take up the idea of changing the policy evaluation logic. Hal *From:*rich levinson *Sent:*Wednesday, March 13, 2013 12:28 PM *To:*Hal Lockhart *Cc:*XACML TC; William Parducci *Subject:*Re: [xacml] Minutes 7 March TC Meeting - action on ambiguity wrt set of returned Obligations, Advice Hi Hal, I agree that a random number generator produces a result that is indeterminate and there is nothing ambiguous about that. However, to apply that paradigm to the present discussion, what we are then discussing is a "random obligation generator", which is quite different, because unlike "numbers" which may be regarded as equivalent in the functional context of a random number generator, "obligations", in general, are not equivalent in the same sense. For example: if one rule had an obligation that said: "apply a $10 charge to the customer account" and a 2nd rule had an obligation that said: "apply a $500 charge to the customer account" then we'd have a situation where if the customer satisfied both rules that sometimes they would be charged $10 and other times they would be charged $500. Therefore, I would assert that for any given customer transaction that it is ambiguous how much the customer will be charged. While this exact situation may not actually occur, it does demonstrate the "nature of the ambiguity" that I have been addressing. Furthermore, I am not saying it is right or wrong that the spec allows for this situation, but that as the spec currently stands, this particular situation, where one cannot accurately specify which obligations will be produced for a given request, is an example of a situation where the results may be considered ambiguous. Finally, in terms of "optimization", my sense is that if the price of optimization is such that one needs to introduce randomness to the results, I would think that generally, for an authorization service, this would be too high a functional price to pay for a performance improvement. Thanks, Rich On 3/12/2013 11:57 AM, Hal Lockhart wrote: At the risk of pressing the good will of the TC, I still believe that a specification can describe behavior which is indeterminate without being ambiguous. For example, a spec can state than a random number, 128 bits in length must be included in a message. No one can predict what the number will be, but there is no ambiguity. I would argue that this case, like that of obligations meets both definitions you give. Hal *From:*rich levinson *Sent:*Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:46 AM *To:*Hal Lockhart *Cc:*XACML TC; William Parducci *Subject:*Re: [xacml] Minutes 7 March TC Meeting - action on ambiguity wrt set of returned Obligations, Advice Hi Hal, Not to quibble (because, imo, it is important that discussions be conducted w a common understanding of the terminology being used), but according to Google/Webster online (google: defn ambiguous): am·big·u·ous /amˈbigyo͞oəs/ Adjective 1. (of language) Open to more than one interpretation; having a double meaning. 2. Unclear or inexact because a choice between alternatives has not been made I think #2 pretty much exactly describes the situation wrt to Obligations. i.e. the statement in the spec: "The following pseudo-code represents the normative specification of this combining algorithm. The algorithm is presented here in a form where the input to it is an array with children (the policies, policy sets or rules) of the policy or policy set. The children may be processed in any order, so the set of obligations or advice provided by this algorithm is not deterministic." Specifically, the "choice between alternatives" in terms of the order of processing is not determined in advance, and so it is unclear which obligations will be produced, which is precisely what's described in defn 2 of "ambiguous". From an implementation point of view, this is more important than defn 1, which simply has to do w unclear language, which can be identified and corrected. However, the 2nd category of ambiguous, when correctly specified, as it appears to be in the spec really makes the ambiguity a "property" of the system that it is up to developers to take into consideration w their design and implementation. One final note is that this "situation" was not introduced in 3.0, it existed in 2.0 as well. What is different is that 3.0 goes into more detail defining the nature of the ambiguity. Thanks, Rich On 3/12/2013 11:19 AM, Hal Lockhart wrote: I am well aware of the fact that when the most common combining algorithms are used, different optimizing PDPs may produce different sets of Obligations from each other, given the same policies and inputs. If fact I was attempting to discuss exactly this issue in the context of reviewing Section 8 of the Healthcare Obligation s Profile. In that context I made the following points. 1. This behavior has been understood and debated since XACML 1.0 it is not some kind of oversight. 2. A judicious choice of combining algorithms can force the evaluation of all policies containing Obligations and thus this is a question of whether to allow an optimization or not. 3. The Profile proposes a specific mechanism to force this evaluation, but since it alters PDP evaluation logic, it would be easier to get the Profile deployed if we could live without these new features. (The same goes for any PDP-based aspect of Obligation handling.) An old argument of mine, which I did not make last week and which I cannot prove is universally true is that generally policies can be easily structured so that Obligations are associated with the logic for the decision on the Effect and will generally produce the correct Obligations. For example, suppose one class of users can access the Resource under normal circumstances and another class of users can only access it under special conditions in which case the access should be recorded in the audit trail. By arranging to have the normal case checked first, the result will be that the audit will only happen under the special conditions. During the call I was objecting to the fact that I thought you were describing the specification as “ambiguous”. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (the nearest one to hand) defines “ambiguous” as: “capable of being understood in two or more possible senses”. As the quote you cite makes clear, the specification is not ambiguous, more than one result is possible. The Obligations returned can depend on the PDP implementation. From the PEP’s point of view it is indeterminate, but the specification is not ambiguous. IMO, Ambiguity in a Standard is Always a bug and must be fixed. However, allowing policy evaluation to produce different outcomes wrt Obligations may or may not be a good idea. Historically the view of the TC has been to allow optimized policy evaluation by default and let the policy author override it if he or she wishes to. Hal *From:*rich levinson *Sent:*Friday, March 08, 2013 4:20 PM *To:*XACML TC; Hal Lockhart *Cc:*William Parducci *Subject:*Re: [xacml] Minutes 7 March TC Meeting - action on ambiguity wrt set of returned Obligations, Advice To Hal, TC, At yesterday's mtg I made the point that was quoted in the minutes that: "There seems to be a level of ambiguity in the evaluation (of policysets, policies, and rules) that has ramifications on Obligations. " The comment was based on my understanding of the "ordered" combining rules. The following comment is in the description of "deny-overrides": "The following pseudo-code represents the normative specification of this combining algorithm. The algorithm is presented here in a form where the input to it is an array with children (the policies, policy sets or rules) of the policy or policy set. The children may be processed in any order, so the set of obligations or advice provided by this algorithm is not deterministic." The same comment appears in the "permit-overrides", "deny-unless-permit", and "permit-unless-deny" algorithms. The same situation existed in XACML 2.0 although the effect on Obligations was not as explicitly stated, although there was one general comment in 2.0 section 7.14 "Obligations". Thanks, Rich On 3/7/2013 8:28 PM, William Parducci wrote: Time: 15:00 ET (GMT-0500) Tel: 513-241-0892 I. Roll Call Voting Members Richard Hill Mohammad Jafari Steven Legg Rich Levinson Hal Lockhart (Chair) Bill Parducci (Chair, minutes) Remon Sinnema John Tolbert Members Richard Skedd Quorum: YES (8 of 11 - 72%) Approve Minutes: 21 February 2013 TC Meeting APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY II. Adminstrivia Future TC meeting times Options (ET): 9:00am, 4:30pm, 5:00pm, 11:00pm TC has 24 hours to submit additional time proposals to Bill who will create a ballot on the Oasis site, duration one week. Format "vote against" poll. results will be used to update time of TC meetings going forward. Status EC-US/IPC Profiles Passed review for CS status. Ready for Attestations. Interop John: Demonstrated new technology, went well. Higher degree of interoperatbilty demonstrated over pervious years. Action Item: Hal will gather materials from interop, confirm approval to share and post demo materials. Oasis is asking for 2014 participation now. Any interested parties are encouraged to voice interest as soon as is feasible by posting to the list. John: A Profile for ISMAP would make for an interesting demo XACML v3.0 Issues and Errata Hal: There is an official process for errata. Main limitation is only releasable annually. The wiki is likely the best place to capture the errata. III. Issues REST Profile Stephen: Example in REST Profile in what response should be (non-normative). Remon explained that the text was speculative based upon assumptions of operation. Hal: suggest that there is a comment that highlights this understanding. Starter Document/Obligation Profile for Healthcare Mohammed: some of the Obligation material goes beyond the HC Profile. Those things should come out into a more general Profile and retain the HC specific content in a separate profile. Hal: suggested mechanism for ensuring consistency of version in the TC discussion Obligations Hal: It is important that our next foray into Obligations should drive semantics into a workable solution. TC members should start considering requirements. Hal offered that his preference is that the PDP remain unchanged in Obligation processing. Perhaps PDP changes could be considered later. Use cases that would not allow for this requested. Finally, the relationship between Policy processing and Obligation need to be revisited to address Obligations that are part of Policies dropped during evaluation. Mohammed: Combining algorithms seem to ignore Obligations. Bill: There are some old discussions re: Obligations on the wiki for those interested in looking at the historical discussions. XACML v3.0 - multiple category elements, normative ambiguity? Rich: There seems to be a level of ambiguity in the evaluation that has ramifications on Obligations. Hal: Please post any such finding so that we can explore it meeting adjourned. --------------------------------------------------------------------- To unsubscribe from this mail list, you must leave the OASIS TC that generates this mail. Follow this link to all your TCs in OASIS at: https://www.oasis-open.org/apps/org/workgroup/portal/my_workgroups.php--------------------------------------------------------------------- To unsubscribe from this mail list, you must leave the OASIS TC that generates this mail. Follow this link to all your TCs in OASIS at: https://www.oasis-open.org/apps/org/workgroup/portal/my_workgroups.php
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