Discretionary Access Control Based on Granting and Revoking Privileges



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In SQL2 and later versions,3 the concept of an authorization identifier is used to refer, roughly speaking, to a user account (or group of user accounts). For simplicity, we will use the words user or account interchangeably in place of authorization identifier. The DBMS must provide selective access to each relation in the database based on specific accounts. Operations may also be controlled; thus, having an account does not necessarily entitle the account holder to all the functionality provided by the DBMS. Informally, there are two levels for assigning privileges to use the database system:

? The account level. At this level, the DBA specifies the particular privileges that each account holds independently of the relations in the database.

? The relation (or table) level. At this level, the DBA can control the privilege to access each individual relation or view in the database.The privileges at the account level apply to the capabilities provided to the account itself and can include the CREATE SCHEMA or CREATE TABLE privilege, to create a schema or base relation; the CREATE VIEW privilege; the ALTER privilege, to apply schema changes such as adding or removing attributes from relations; the DROP privilege, to delete relations or views; the MODIFY privilege, to insert, delete, or update tuples; and the SELECT privilege, to retrieve information from the database by using a SELECT query. Notice that these account privileges apply to the account in general. If a certain account does not have the CREATE TABLE privilege, no relations can be created from that account. Account-level privileges are not defined as part of SQL2; they are left to the DBMS implementers to define. In earlier versions of SQL, a CREATETAB privilege existed to give an account the privilege to create tables (relations).

The second level of privileges applies to the relation level, whether they are base relations or virtual (view) relations. These privileges are defined for SQL2. In the following discussion, the term relation may refer either to a base relation or to a view, unless we explicitly specify one or the other. Privileges at the relation level specify for each user the individual relations on which each type of command can be applied. Some privileges also refer to individual columns (attributes) of relations. SQL2 commands provide privileges at the relation and attribute level only. Although this is quite general, it makes it difficult to create accounts with limited privileges. The granting and revoking of privileges generally follow an authorization model for discretionary privileges known as the access matrix model, where the rows of a matrix M represent subjects (users, accounts, programs) and the columns represent objects (relations, records, columns, views, operations). Each position M(i, j) in the matrix represents the types of privileges (read, write, update) that subject i holds on object j.

To control the granting and revoking of relation privileges, each relation R in a database is assigned an owner account, which is typically the account that was used when the relation was created in the first place. The owner of a relation is given all privileges on that relation. In SQL2, the DBA can assign an owner to a whole schema by creating the schema and associating the appropriate authorization identifier with that schema, using the CREATE SCHEMA command (see Section 4.1.1). The owner account holder can pass privileges on any of the owned relations to other users by granting privileges to their accounts. In SQL the following types of privileges can be granted on each individual relation R:

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? SELECT (retrieval or read) privilege on R. Gives the account retrieval privilege. In SQL this gives the account the privilege to use the SELECT statement to retrieve tuples from R.

? Modification privileges on R. This gives the account the capability to modify the tuples of R. In SQL this includes three privileges: UPDATE, DELETE, and INSERT. These correspond to the three SQL commands (see Section 4.4) for modifying a table R. Additionally, both the INSERT and UPDATE privileges can specify that only certain attributes of R can be modified by the account. 844 Chapter 24 Database Security

? References privilege on R. This gives the account the capability to reference (or refer to) a relation R when specifying integrity constraints. This privilege can also be restricted to specific attributes of R. Notice that to create a view, the account must have the SELECT privilege on all relations involved in the view definition in order to specify the query that corresponds to the view.


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