Impala Authorization

Authorization determines which users are allowed to access which resources, and what operations they are allowed to perform. You use Apache Sentry or Apache Ranger for authorization. By default, when authorization is not enabled, Impala does all read and write operations with the privileges of the impala user, which is suitable for a development/test environment but not for a secure production environment. When authorization is enabled, Impala uses the OS user ID of the user who runs impala-shell or other client programs, and associates various privileges with each user.

See the following sections for details about using the Impala authorization features.

The Privilege Model

Privileges can be granted on different objects in the schema. Any privilege that can be granted is associated with a level in the object hierarchy. If a privilege is granted on a parent object in the hierarchy, the child object automatically inherits it. This is the same privilege model as Hive and other database systems.

The objects in the Impala schema hierarchy are:

Server
    URI
    Database
        Table
            Column

The table-level privileges apply to views as well. Anywhere you specify a table name, you can specify a view name instead.

In Impala 2.3 and higher, you can specify privileges for individual columns.

The table below lists the minimum level of privileges and the scope required to execute SQL statements in Impala 3.0 and higher. The following notations are used:
  • ANY denotes the SELECT, INSERT, CREATE, ALTER, DROP, or REFRESH privilege.
  • ALL privilege denotes the SELECT, INSERT, CREATE, ALTER, DROP, and REFRESH privileges.
  • The owner of an object effectively has the ALL privilege on the object.
  • The parent levels of the specified scope are implicitly supported where a scope refers to the specific level in the object hierarchy that the privilege is granted. For example, if a privilege is listed with the TABLE scope, the same privilege granted on DATABASE and SERVER will allow the user to execute the specified SQL statement.
SQL Statement Privileges Object Type /

Resource Type

SELECT SELECT TABLE
WITH SELECT SELECT TABLE
EXPLAIN SELECT SELECT TABLE
INSERT INSERT TABLE
EXPLAIN INSERT INSERT TABLE
TRUNCATE INSERT TABLE
LOAD INSERT TABLE
  ALL URI
CREATE DATABASE CREATE SERVER
CREATE DATABASE LOCATION CREATE SERVER
  ALL URI
CREATE TABLE CREATE DATABASE
CREATE TABLE LIKE CREATE DATABASE
  SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
CREATE TABLE AS SELECT CREATE DATABASE
  INSERT DATABASE
  SELECT TABLE
EXPLAIN CREATE TABLE AS SELECT CREATE DATABASE
  INSERT DATABASE
  SELECT TABLE
CREATE TABLE LOCATION CREATE TABLE
  ALL URI
CREATE VIEW CREATE DATABASE
  SELECT TABLE
ALTER DATABASE SET OWNER ALL WITH GRANT DATABASE
ALTER TABLE ALTER TABLE
ALTER TABLE SET LOCATION ALTER TABLE
  ALL URI
ALTER TABLE RENAME CREATE DATABASE
  ALL TABLE
ALTER TABLE SET OWNER ALL WITH GRANT TABLE
ALTER VIEW ALTER TABLE
  SELECT TABLE
ALTER VIEW RENAME CREATE DATABASE
  ALL TABLE
ALTER VIEW SET OWNER ALL WITH GRANT VIEW
DROP DATABASE DROP DATABASE
DROP TABLE DROP TABLE
DROP VIEW DROP TABLE
CREATE FUNCTION CREATE DATABASE
  ALL URI
DROP FUNCTION DROP DATABASE
COMPUTE STATS ALTER and SELECT TABLE
DROP STATS ALTER TABLE
INVALIDATE METADATA REFRESH SERVER
INVALIDATE METADATA <table> REFRESH TABLE
REFRESH <table> REFRESH TABLE
REFRESH AUTHORIZATION REFRESH SERVER
REFRESH FUNCTIONS REFRESH DATABASE
COMMENT ON DATABASE ALTER DATABASE
COMMENT ON TABLE ALTER TABLE
COMMENT ON VIEW ALTER TABLE
COMMENT ON COLUMN ALTER TABLE
DESCRIBE DATABASE SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH DATABASE
DESCRIBE <table/view> SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
If the user has the SELECT privilege at the COLUMN level, only the columns the user has access will show. SELECT COLUMN
USE ANY TABLE
SHOW DATABASES ANY TABLE
SHOW TABLES ANY TABLE
SHOW FUNCTIONS SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH DATABASE
SHOW PARTITIONS SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW TABLE STATS SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW COLUMN STATS SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW FILES SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW CREATE TABLE SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW CREATE VIEW SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
SHOW CREATE FUNCTION SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH DATABASE
SHOW RANGE PARTITIONS (Kudu only) SELECT, INSERT, or REFRESH TABLE
UPDATE (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
EXPLAIN UPDATE (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
UPSERT (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
WITH UPSERT (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
EXPLAIN UPSERT (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
DELETE (Kudu only) ALL TABLE
EXPLAIN DELETE (Kudu only) ALL TABLE

Privileges are managed via the GRANT and REVOKE SQL statements that require the Sentry or Ranger service enabled.

If you change privileges outside of Impala, e.g. adding a user, removing a user, modifying privileges, you must clear the Impala Catalog server cache by running the REFRESH AUTHORIZATION statement. REFRESH AUTHORIZATION is not required if you make the changes to privileges within Impala.

Object Ownership in Sentry

Impala supports the ownership on databases, tables, and views. The CREATE statements implicitly make the user running the statement the owner of the object. An owner has the OWNER privilege if enabled in Sentry. For example, if User A creates a database, foo, via the CREATE DATABASE statement, User A now owns the foo database and is authorized to perform any operation on the foo database.

The OWNER privilege is not a grantable or revokable privilege whereas the ALL privilege is explicitly granted via the GRANT statement.

The object ownership feature is controlled by a Sentry configuration. The OWNER privilege is only granted when the feature is enabled in Sentry. When enabled they get the owner privilege, with or without the GRANT OPTION, which is also controlled by the Sentry configuration.

An ownership can be transferred to another user or role via the ALTER DATABASE, ALTER TABLE, or ALTER VIEW with the SET OWNER clause.

Starting Impala with Sentry Authorization Enabled

To enable authorization in an Impala cluster using Sentry:
  1. Add the following options to the IMPALA_SERVER_ARGS and the IMPALA_CATALOG_ARGS settings in the /etc/default/impala configuration file:
    • -server_name: For all impalad nodes and the catalogd in the cluster, specify the same name set in the sentry.hive.server property in the sentry-site.xml configuration file for Hive.
    • -sentry_config: Specifies the local path to the sentry-site.xml configuration file.
  2. Restart the catalogd and all impalad daemons.

Starting Impala with Ranger Authorization Enabled

To enable authorization in an Impala cluster using Ranger:

  1. Add the following options to the IMPALA_SERVER_ARGS and the IMPALA_CATALOG_ARGS settings in the /etc/default/impala configuration file:
    • -server_name: Specify the same name for all impalad nodes and the catalogd in the cluster.
    • -ranger_service_type=hive
    • -ranger_app_id: Set it to the Ranger application id.
    • -authorization_provider=ranger
  2. Restart the catalogd and all impalad daemons.

Managing Privileges

You set up privileges through the GRANT and REVOKE statements in either Impala or Hive. Then both components use those same privileges automatically.

For information about using the Impala GRANT and REVOKE statements, see GRANT Statement (Impala 2.0 or higher only) and REVOKE Statement (Impala 2.0 or higher only).

Changing Privileges from Outside of Impala

If you make a change to privileges in Sentry or Ranger from outside of Impala, e.g. adding a user, removing a user, modifying privileges, there are two options to propagate the change:

  • Use the catalogd flag, --sentry_catalog_polling_frequency_s to specify how often to do a Sentry refresh. The flag is set to 60 seconds by default.
  • Use the ranger.plugin.hive.policy.pollIntervalMs property to specify how often to do a Ranger refresh. The property is specified in ranger-hive-security.xml in the conf directory under your Impala home directory.
  • Run the INVALIDATE METADATA or REFRESH AUTHORIZATION statement to force a refresh.

If you make a change to privileges within Impala, INVALIDATE METADATA is not required.

Warning: As INVALIDATE METADATA is an expensive operation, you should use it judiciously.

Granting Privileges on URI

URIs represent the file paths you specify as part of statements such as CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE and LOAD DATA. Typically, you specify what look like UNIX paths, but these locations can also be prefixed with hdfs:// to make clear that they are really URIs. To set privileges for a URI, specify the name of a directory, and the privilege applies to all the files in that directory and any directories underneath it.

URIs must start with hdfs://, s3a://, adl://, or file://. If a URI starts with an absolute path, the path will be appended to the default filesystem prefix. For example, if you specify:

GRANT ALL ON URI '/tmp';
The above statement effectively becomes the following where the default filesystem is HDFS.

GRANT ALL ON URI 'hdfs://localhost:20500/tmp';
When defining URIs for HDFS, you must also specify the NameNode. For example:
GRANT ALL ON URI file:///path/to/dir TO <role>
GRANT ALL ON URI hdfs://namenode:port/path/to/dir TO <role>
Warning: Because the NameNode host and port must be specified, it is strongly recommended that you use High Availability (HA). This ensures that the URI will remain constant even if the NameNode changes. For example:
GRANT ALL ON URI hdfs://ha-nn-uri/path/to/dir TO <role>

Examples of Setting up Authorization for Security Scenarios

The following examples show how to set up authorization to deal with various scenarios.

A User with No Privileges

If a user has no privileges at all, that user cannot access any schema objects in the system. The error messages do not disclose the names or existence of objects that the user is not authorized to read.

This is the experience you want a user to have if they somehow log into a system where they are not an authorized Impala user. Or in a real deployment, a user might have no privileges because they are not a member of any of the authorized groups.

Examples of Privileges for Administrative Users

In this example, the SQL statements grant the entire_server role all privileges on both the databases and URIs within the server.

CREATE ROLE entire_server;
GRANT ROLE entire_server TO GROUP admin_group;
GRANT ALL ON SERVER server1 TO ROLE entire_server;

A User with Privileges for Specific Databases and Tables

If a user has privileges for specific tables in specific databases, the user can access those things but nothing else. They can see the tables and their parent databases in the output of SHOW TABLES and SHOW DATABASES, USE the appropriate databases, and perform the relevant actions (SELECT and/or INSERT) based on the table privileges. To actually create a table requires the ALL privilege at the database level, so you might define separate roles for the user that sets up a schema and other users or applications that perform day-to-day operations on the tables.


CREATE ROLE one_database;
GRANT ROLE one_database TO GROUP admin_group;
GRANT ALL ON DATABASE db1 TO ROLE one_database;

CREATE ROLE instructor;
GRANT ROLE instructor TO GROUP trainers;
GRANT ALL ON TABLE db1.lesson TO ROLE instructor;

# This particular course is all about queries, so the students can SELECT but not INSERT or CREATE/DROP.
CREATE ROLE student;
GRANT ROLE student TO GROUP visitors;
GRANT SELECT ON TABLE db1.training TO ROLE student;

Privileges for Working with External Data Files

When data is being inserted through the LOAD DATA statement or is referenced from an HDFS location outside the normal Impala database directories, the user also needs appropriate permissions on the URIs corresponding to those HDFS locations.

In this example:

  • The external_table role can insert into and query the Impala table, external_table.sample.
  • The staging_dir role can specify the HDFS path /user/impala-user/external_data with the LOAD DATA statement. When Impala queries or loads data files, it operates on all the files in that directory, not just a single file, so any Impala LOCATION parameters refer to a directory rather than an individual file.
CREATE ROLE external_table;
GRANT ROLE external_table TO GROUP impala_users;
GRANT ALL ON TABLE external_table.sample TO ROLE external_table;

CREATE ROLE staging_dir;
GRANT ROLE staging TO GROUP impala_users;
GRANT ALL ON URI 'hdfs://127.0.0.1:8020/user/impala-user/external_data' TO ROLE staging_dir;

Separating Administrator Responsibility from Read and Write Privileges

To create a database, you need the full privilege on that database while day-to-day operations on tables within that database can be performed with lower levels of privilege on a specific table. Thus, you might set up separate roles for each database or application: an administrative one that could create or drop the database, and a user-level one that can access only the relevant tables.

In this example, the responsibilities are divided between users in 3 different groups:

  • Members of the supergroup group have the training_sysadmin role and so can set up a database named training.
  • Members of the impala_users group have the instructor role and so can create, insert into, and query any tables in the training database, but cannot create or drop the database itself.
  • Members of the visitor group have the student role and so can query those tables in the training database.
CREATE ROLE training_sysadmin;
GRANT ROLE training_sysadmin TO GROUP supergroup;
GRANT ALL ON DATABASE training1 TO ROLE training_sysadmin;

CREATE ROLE instructor;
GRANT ROLE instructor TO GROUP impala_users;
GRANT ALL ON TABLE training1.course1 TO ROLE instructor;

CREATE ROLE visitor;
GRANT ROLE student TO GROUP visitor;
GRANT SELECT ON TABLE training1.course1 TO ROLE student;

Setting Up Schema Objects for a Secure Impala Deployment

In your role definitions, you must specify privileges at the level of individual databases and tables, or all databases or all tables within a database. To simplify the structure of these rules, plan ahead of time how to name your schema objects so that data with different authorization requirements are divided into separate databases.

If you are adding security on top of an existing Impala deployment, you can rename tables or even move them between databases using the ALTER TABLE statement.

The DEFAULT Database in a Secure Deployment

Because of the extra emphasis on granular access controls in a secure deployment, you should move any important or sensitive information out of the DEFAULT database into a named database. Sometimes you might need to give privileges on the DEFAULT database for administrative reasons, for example, as a place you can reliably specify with a USE statement when preparing to drop a database.