Role-based Access Control (RBAC)

Akeyless Role-based Access Control (RBAC) follows the least privilege principle to limit access rights for machines/human users to the bare minimum of permissions they need to perform their work.

We associate specific clients with a certain Authentication Method to an Access Role to increase operational flexibility. The user can define any number of roles with permissions per each role.

Access Roles can be configured to grant permissions on Secrets & Encryption Keys, Targets, Authentication methods and Access Roles, you can also control user access to audit logs, analytics, Gateways settings and Secure Remote Access (SRA) information.

To set permission for a user to work with any item in the Platform, an appropriate Access Role must be assigned to the Authentication Method that represents this user. By default, users don't have any permissions in Akeyless unless explicitly granted.

To Associate an Authentication Methods with a role from the Akeyless Command Line Interface (CLI) run the following commands to create an API Key:

akeyless create-auth-method --name client1

Create a new access role:

akeyless create-role --name role1

To set all authentication methods associated with a specific role access to all Items under /path/to/folder/ with read, create, and update permissions, use:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/path/to/folder/*" --capability read --capability create --capability update

To set the role with access for additional items type like Targets, Auth Methods, Access Roles, or Secure Remote Access, you can simply set the rule-type inside the command:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/path/to/folder/*" --rule-type target-rule --capability read --capability create --capability update
akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/path/to/folder/*" --rule-type auth-method-rule --capability read --capability create --capability update
akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/path/to/folder/*" --rule-type role-rule --capability read --capability create --capability update
akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/path/to/folder/*" --rule-type sra-rule --capability allow_access # other options '--capability justify_access_only' '--capability request_access'

Despite the fact that users do not have access to items unless granted explicitly, to protect sensitive items from access, you can deny all the authentication methods associated with a role to access the relevant item, for example /path/to/folder/topSecret (does not include Secure Remote Access):

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path /path/to/folder/topSecret --capability deny

Add client1 to the role1, so client1 will be able to access all items under /path/to/folder/ apart from /path/to/folder/topSecret:

akeyless assoc-role-am --role-name role1 --am-name client1

Permission Types

Akeyless has six main permission types for Items, Access Roles, Auth Methods, and Targets that can be assigned to specific items, folders, or entire accounts. For Secure Remote Access only, there are six permission types.

The built-in admin role has full access to all parts of the accounts.



It is considered a best practice not to use an API key as the authentication method associated with your Admin role. We highly recommend you select one of the other available Authentication Methods.

Permissions for Items, Access Roles, Auth Methods, and Targets

The existing permissions for Items, Access Roles, Auth Methods, and Targets are as follows:

  • List: Allows a user to list the items available under an authorized path.
  • Read: Allows a user to read the items available in an authorized path.
  • Create: Allows a user to create new secrets and items in an authorized path.
  • Update: Allows a user to update existing secrets and items in an authorized path.
  • Delete: Allows a user to delete existing secrets and items in an authorized path.
  • Deny: Allows a user to deny any permission to other users in their authorized path.



Permission Hierarchy

Some Akeyless permissions include others in them. For example, list is included under all other permissions, and deny has a complete override over any other permission.

Permissions for Secure Remote Access

The existing permissions for Secure Remote Access are as follows:

  • Allow Access: Allows a user full access to login to a remote resource.
  • Request Access: Allows a user to request access and requires adding a reason for access. Once the request is sent, an admin or approver receives a notification in the Event Center to approve or deny. If approved, the user can then access the remote resource.
  • Justify Access Only: Allows a user to access a remote resource only after entering the reason for access.
  • Approval Authority: Allows a user to be part of the eligible approvers for Secure Remote Access Requests of the organization in the specified path. This option cannot be selected if “Request Access” is enabled.
  • Upload Files: For RDP only. Allows a user to upload local files to a remote Windows machine using a button on the top menu. More information here.
  • Download Files: For RDP only. Allows a user to download files from a remote Windows machine to their local machine. More information here.

Access Roles Syntax

In general, you can set an Access Role to a specific item only:

In this example we will create a role that grants read permission to mysecret, which is located under /foo folder:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/foo/mysecret" --capability read

To provide access to all secrets with a well-defined prefix:

In this example, we will create a role that grants read permission to all secrets or any items under a folder that starts with devops- prefix, which are located under /foo folder:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "/foo/devops-*" --capability read

In addition, a + can be used to denote any number of characters bounded within a single path segment:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --path "foo/+/+/bar/*" --capability read

This Access Role will permit reading secrets under those folders path:
foo/any/folder/bar/*, foo/other/folder/bar/*, etc.

Multiple rules

If you wish to apply multiple rules to your role in one command, you can use a JSON file using -f or --file parameter to the command, that will lead to a JSON file in the following way:

akeyless set-role-rule --role-name role1 --file-rules path/to/file.json

The JSON file structure should be as follows:

	"secret/foo": [{
			"rule-type": "item-rule",
			"capabilities": "[read, list]",
			"ttl": "30"
			"rule-type": "role-rule",
			"capabilities": "[read, list]"
	"secret/bar": [{
		"rule-type": "target-rule",
		"capabilities": "[delete, list]"

Where the relevant Akeyless paths, e.g secret/foo and secret/bar correlate with the --path parameter, the rule type with the rule-type key, and the capabilities with the capabilities key that you would attach to a single rule command as described above.

View As

To verify the settings of your Access Roles, you can use the Impersonate As feature inside the Akeyless Console. Admins can validate and explore what kind of access they grant to clients.
Click on your account logo on the top right corner of your console, and select Impersonate As.
On the dialog, choose from the drop-down menu and existing Authentication Methods. Where needed, provide the relevant Sub-Claims as well to validate the level of access the relevant audience has.


Check out our tutorial video on Role-based Access Control (RBAC).