Privilege escalation protection
18.13.4. Privilege escalation protected administrator roles (PEPAR) in the Adminapp

Privilege escalation protected administrator roles (PEPAR) protect certain administrative functions against privilege escalation.

The concept is applicable to all Adminapp roles but focuses on the following features:

Feature
PEPAR benefit
Administrators management
Creating new Adminapp users or assigning roles to existing administrators may lead to privilege escalation.
PEPAR - if configured accordingly - prevents it.
Group of actions in the Role-based Access Control plugin: Administrator management
Configuration
Adminapp users with the right to edit and activate the IAM configuration may grant themselves all possible privileges by editing the configuration. Roles including these rights are therefore susceptible to privilege escalation.
PEPAR - if configured accordingly - prevents it.
Group of actions in the Role-based Access Control plugin: Configuration management

PEPAR roles

To define what subset of Adminapp roles is to be protected by PEPAR, the IAM configuration allows to explicitly list these roles.

To do so, go to: Adminapp >> Administrators >> Administrators Management >> Privilege Escalation Protected Admin Roles (PEPAR)

The listed roles are called PEPAR roles in the following.

PEPAR authorization rules

  • The following rules apply for PEPAR protected roles:
  • 1.
    Administrators with PEPAR roles can only be managed (list, view, edit, delete) by administrators with PEPAR roles.
  • 2.
    PEPAR roles can only be assigned to or unassigned from administrators by administrators with PEPAR roles.

In other words, administrators without PEPAR roles can neither manage administrators with PEPAR roles nor assign PEPAR roles.

Example use case

This example is used to illustrate the PEPAR feature. It assumes the following Adminapp roles:

Role
Privileges (actions)
Description
superadmin
Manage Adminapp users
A super administrator that can create and edit all other Adminapp users and assign roles.
Role needs PEPAR protection!
configurator
Edit and apply IAM configuration
For users allowed to edit the IAM configuration and apply the changes to the system. Note that Adminapp users with this role may also re-configure Adminapp access control.
Role needs PEPAR protection!
 
 
 
admin
Manage Adminapp users
Adminapp users with this role are allowed to create, manage, and delete Adminapp users with non-PEPAR roles.
 
 
 
useradmin
Create and edit end-users.
Assign and edit authentication tokens.
For Adminapp users that are allowed to create, edit and delete end-user accounts, assign roles to end-users and manage the end-users' authentication tokens.
helpdesk
View end-users and other actions on end-users.
Helpdesk users with the minimum required actions on the end-user accounts to do their job.

Note that all Adminapp users with the superadmin and/or the configurator role can gain all possible privileges, while Adminapp users with other roles (including the admin role) are strictly limited in terms of privileges.

The following diagram visualizes the situation:

pepar_example

Configuration

Prerequisite: All PEPAR roles must also be present in the Assignable Role Combinations plugin configuration.

  • 1.
    Go to:
    Adminapp >> Administrators >> Administrators Management
  • 2.
    In the section Privilege Escalation Protected Admin Roles (PEPAR) add one or more PEPAR roles.

Migration

For existing setups, no migration is required. Without the configuration of the PEPAR protected roles, the authorization system for administrators continues to work unchanged and may remain vulnerable to privilege escalation.

Limitations

PEPAR is limited to protect against privilege escalation within the Adminapp. It does not protect against users with access to:

Configuration
With access to the configuration, a user may change the role setup and the PEPAR configuration and therefore escalate privileges.
Database
With access to the database, a user may modify the administrator to role assignments and therefore escalate privileges.

Further information and links (optional block)