Automatic Policy Generation for Inter-Service Access Control of Microservices


Xing Li, Zhejiang University; Yan Chen, Northwestern University; Zhiqiang Lin, The Ohio State University; Xiao Wang and Jim Hao Chen, Northwestern University


Cloud applications today are often composed of many microservices. To prevent a microservice from being abused by other (compromised) microservices, inter-service access control is applied. However, the complexity of fine-grained access control policies, along with the large-scale and dynamic nature of microservices, makes the current manual configuration-based access control unsuitable. This paper presents AUTOARMOR, the first attempt to automate inter-service access control policy generation for microservices, with two fundamental techniques: (1) a static analysis-based request extraction mechanism that automatically obtains the invocation logic among microservices, and (2) a graph-based policy management mechanism that generates corresponding access control policies with on-demand policy update. Our evaluation on popular microservice applications shows that AUTOARMOR is able to generate fine-grained inter-service access control policies and update them timely based on changes in the application, with only a minor runtime overhead. By seamlessly integrating with the lifecycle of microservices, it does not require any changes to existing code and infrastructures.

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@inproceedings {272108,
author = {Xing Li and Yan Chen and Zhiqiang Lin and Xiao Wang and Jim Hao Chen},
title = {Automatic Policy Generation for {Inter-Service} Access Control of Microservices},
booktitle = {30th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 21)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-24-3},
pages = {3971--3988},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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