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Athenz is a set of services and libraries supporting service authentication and role-based authorization (RBAC) for provisioning and configuration (centralized authorization) use cases as well as serving/runtime (decentralized authorization) use cases. Athenz authorization system utilizes x.509 certificates and two types of tokens: Principal Tokens (N-Tokens) and RoleTokens (Z-Tokens). The use of x.509 certificates is strongly recommended over tokens. The name "Athenz" is derived from "AuthNZ" (N for authentication and Z for authorization).

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Athenz is an open source platform for X.509 certificate based service authentication and fine grained role based access control in dynamic infrastructures. It provides support for the following three major functional areas.

Service Authentication

Athenz provides secure identity in the form of short lived X.509 certificate for every workload or service deployed in private (e.g. Openstack, K8S, Screwdriver) or public cloud (e.g. AWS EC2, ECS, Fargate, Lambda). Using these X.509 certificates clients and services establish secure connections and through mutual TLS authentication verify each other's identity. The service identity certificates are valid for 30 days only and the service identity agents (SIA) part of those frameworks automatically refresh them daily. The term service within Athenz is more generic than a traditional service. A service identity could represent a command, job, daemon, workflow, as well as both an application client and an application service.

Since Athenz service authentication is based on X.509 certificates, it is important that you have a good understanding what X.509 certificates are and how they're used to establish secure connections in Internet protocols such as TLS.

Role-Based Authorization (RBAC)

Once the client is authenticated with its x.509 certificate, the service can then check if the given client is authorized to carry out the requested action. Athenz provides fine-grained role-based access control (RBAC) support for a centralized management system with support for control-plane access control decisions and a decentralized enforcement mechanism suitable for data-plane access control decisions. It also provides a delegated management model that supports multi-tenant and self-service concepts.

AWS Temporary Credentials Support

When working with AWS, Athenz provides support to access AWS services from on-prem services with using AWS temporary credentials rather than static credentials. Athenz ZTS server can be used to request AWS temporary credentials for configured AWS IAM roles.




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Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0: