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Gabriel L. Manor for

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Use OPA for Application-Level Authorization, from RBAC to ABAC in Scale

Authorization is a fundamental concern in building secure, robust cloud applications. In the past, developers typically implemented authorization directly into their applications, leading to tightly coupled, complex systems. Fortunately, Open Policy Agent (OPA), a general-purpose policy engine, has emerged as a flexible and powerful tool for managing authorization at scale, from Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC). In this blog post, we compile a series of key articles that guide you through implementing OPA as your authorization engine.

Introduction to OPA

In the Introduction to OPA, you'll learn about the basics of Open Policy Agent. OPA is an open-source, general-purpose policy engine that enables unified, context-aware policy enforcement across your entire stack. This article gives a thorough breakdown of how OPA works, its use cases, and the benefits it brings to cloud-native applications.

Netflix AuthZ

The article on Netflix AuthZ provides real-world evidence of OPA's power and flexibility. Netflix, a global leader in the entertainment industry, leverages OPA for fine-grained, context-aware authorization, and this piece details how they use OPA for authorization in their microservices architecture.

Implementing RBAC using OPA

Implementing RBAC using OPA is a hands-on guide to setting up Role-Based Access Control using OPA. RBAC, a system where permissions are associated with roles and users are assigned to these roles, is a common pattern for managing authorization. This article walks you through setting up an RBAC system using OPA, with code snippets and explanations along the way.

Implementing ABAC using OPA

Next, we have Implementing ABAC using OPA, an article that introduces you to Attribute-Based Access Control. ABAC is a flexible, granular authorization model that uses attributes (characteristics, properties, etc.) associated with users, the environment, or the resource itself to decide permissions. The piece outlines how to set up an ABAC system using OPA, providing code samples and detailed explanations.

Introduction to OPAL

Moving beyond the basics, the Introduction to OPAL post presents an advanced tool for working with OPA: OPAL (OPA as a Library). OPAL provides an interface to use OPA as a Go library, which can be used to make your applications policy-aware without making them policy-dependent.

Load External Data into OPA

Load External Data into OPA dives into one of the most powerful aspects of OPA: its ability to use external data for policy decisions. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to load data into OPA from an external source, enhancing the flexibility and context-awareness of your authorization.

Access Control: Scary to Simple

Finally, Access Control: Scary to Simple wraps up with a deep dive into simplifying access control with OPA. The piece discusses common pitfalls in managing access control and how adopting OPA can help you avoid these issues, keeping your authorization policies simple, efficient, and effective.

In conclusion, using OPA for application-level authorization brings significant benefits to your application security. The scalability and flexibility of OPA, from RBAC to ABAC, are testament to its power, and the articles above provide all the guidance you need to start implementing OPA in your cloud applications.

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