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A new & improved Access Control API

Securing the data in your Keystone sytem is one of the most important steps in preparing your application for a production deployment. To make this process simpler and safer, we've made some important changes to the Access Control APIs from previous versions. This document outlines the motivation behind the changes, and shows you how to update your existing Access Control functions to use the new APIs.

Control your GraphQL API

Previous versions of Keystone allowed you to control which operations were included in your GraphQL API by specifying static access control. For example, the following access control definition would omit all delete operations for the list from the GraphQL API.

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
access: {
delete: false,
},
}),
}),
});

With the new API, access control will never have any effect on which operations are in your GraphQL API.

If you would like to exclude an operation from the GraphQL API, you can use the new config.graphql.omit API. To exclude all delete operations, you would write:

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
graphql: {
omit: ['delete'],
}
}),
}),
});

If you have used static access control to exclude operations from you GraphQL API, update those lists to use the graphql.omit configuration option instead.

Queries never throw Access Denied

Previous versions of Keystone would return an Access Denied error from a query if an item couldn't be found, or explicitly had access denied. This behaviour proved confusing, particularly in the missing data case.

The new access control API never returns an Access Denied error on a query. When querying for a single item, if the item is missing, or access is denied, the query will return null. If querying for multiple items, or for a count of items, any items which are excluded due to access control will be filtered out of the result, and removed from the count. The query will never return an Access Denied error.

If you have client-side code which checks for Access Denied errors on queries, update it to check for null return values instead.

More flexible access control definitions

Previous versions of Keystone allowed you to write access control using static, imperative, or declarative definitions. In practice, these alternatives were not very intuitive to use, and often lead to confusion, which in turn could lead to security risks.

The new API makes each rule much more explicit and supports fewer variations, making it easier to read, write, and maintain your access control rules. This in turn will reduce the risk of introducing security gaps in your system.

Before moving on, be sure to read the docs for the new API.

Updating static access control

If you are using static access control, you will generally want to update this to use the new operation level access control. If you previously had the following:

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
access: {
create: false,
read: true,
update: false,
delete: false,
},
}),
}),
});

you will need to change it to:

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
access: {
operation: {
create: () => false,
query: () => true,
update: () => false,
delete: () => false,
}
},
}),
}),
});

Note that that read operation has been renamed to query.

Updating declarative access control

If you are using declarative access control, you will neeed to update this to use the new filter level access control. If you previously had the following:

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
access: {
read: { isAdmin: { equals: true } },
update: { isAdmin: { equals: true } },
delete: { isAdmin: { equals: true } },
},
}),
}),
});

you will need to change it to:

import { config, createSchema, list } from '@keystone-next/keystone';
export default config({
lists: createSchema({
ListKey: list({
access: {
filter: {
query: () => ({ isAdmin: { equals: true } }),
update: () => ({ isAdmin: { equals: true } }),
delete: () => ({ isAdmin: { equals: true } }),
}
},
}),
}),
});

Updating imperative access control

The imperative access control pattern in previous versions of Keystone provided a high degree of flexibility, providing access to a wide range of input variables, and allowing for both static (boolean valued) and declarative (filter valued) return values. Porting your imperative access control to the new API will depend on what type of function you have. The following rules will help you decide how to update you system.

  • Does your function ever return a declarative value, e.g. a GraphQL filter value? If so, you should move it into the filter access control block.
  • Does your function depend on the item or originalInput arguments? If so, you should move it into the item access control block.
  • If the function returns a boolean value and does not depend on the item or originalInput arguments, you should move it into the operation access control block.

You can define separate functions for an operation in more than one access control block. Items must pass all access control rules for an operation to be successful.

Getting help

We've put a lot of thought into the new access control APIs based on our experience building real world systems with Keystone. While large changes like this can be daunting, we hope that the long term benefits will make the transition worth the effort.

If you get stuck or have questions, reach out to us in the Keystone community slack to get the help you need.

The security of the data in your Keystone system should be a high priority. We strongly encourage you to write tests to verify the behaviour of your access control definitions before upgrading.