Multi-policy Validation

Multi-policy Validation


Multi-policy validation exists in Patrole because if one policy were assumed, then tests could fail because they would not consider all the policies actually being enforced. The reasoning can be found in this spec. Basically, since Patrole derives the expected test result dynamically in order to test any role, each policy enforced by the API under test must be considered to derive an accurate expected test result, or else the expected and actual test results will not always match, resulting in overall test failure. For more information about Patrole’s RBAC validation work flow, reference RBAC Rule Validation Module.

Multi-policy support allows Patrole to more accurately offer RBAC tests for API endpoints that enforce multiple policy actions.


Multiple policies should be applied only to tests that require them. Not all API endpoints enforce multiple policies. Some services consistently enforce 1 policy per API, while on the other side of the spectrum, services like Neutron have much more involved policy enforcement work flows. See Neutron Multi-policy Validation for more information.

Neutron Multi-policy Validation

Neutron can raise different Error Codes following failed policy authorization. Many endpoints in Neutron enforce multiple policies, which complicates matters when trying to determine whether the endpoint raises a 403 or a 404 following unauthorized access.

Multi-policy Examples

General Examples

Below is an example of multi-policy validation for a carefully chosen Nova API:

def test_unlock_server_override(self):
    """Test force unlock server, part of os-lock-server.

    In order to trigger the unlock:unlock_override policy instead
    of the unlock policy, the server must be locked by a different
    user than the one who is attempting to unlock it.
    self.addCleanup(self.servers_client.unlock_server, self.server['id'])

    with self.override_role():

While the expected_error_codes parameter is omitted in the example above, Patrole automatically populates it with a 403 for each policy in rules. Therefore, in the example above, the following expected error codes/rules relationship is observed:

  • “os_compute_api:os-lock-server:unlock” => 403
  • “os_compute_api:os-lock-server:unlock:unlock_override” => 403

Below is an example that uses expected_error_codes to account for the fact that Neutron is expected to raise a 404 on the first policy that is enforced server-side (“get_port”). Also, in this example, soft authorization is performed, meaning that it is necessary to check the response body for an attribute that is added only following successful policy authorization.

@utils.requires_ext(extension='binding', service='network')
                             expected_error_codes=[404, 403])
def test_show_port_binding_vif_type(self):

    # Verify specific fields of a port
    fields = ['binding:vif_type']

    with self.override_role():
        retrieved_port = self.ports_client.show_port(
            self.port['id'], fields=fields)['port']

    # Rather than throwing a 403, the field is not present, so raise exc.
    if fields[0] not in retrieved_port:
        raise rbac_exceptions.RbacMalformedResponse(

Note that in the example above, failure to authorize “get_port:binding:vif_type” results in the response body getting successfully returned by the server, but without additional dictionary keys. If Patrole fails to find those expected keys, it acts as though a 403 was thrown (by raising an exception itself, the rbac_rule_validation decorator handles the rest).

Neutron Examples

A basic Neutron example that only expects 403’s to be raised:

@utils.requires_ext(extension='external-net', service='network')
                             expected_error_codes=[403, 403])
def test_create_network_router_external(self):

    """Create External Router Network Test

    RBAC test for the neutron create_network:router:external policy
    with self.override_role():

Note that above the following expected error codes/rules relationship is observed:

  • “create_network” => 403
  • “create_network:router:external” => 403

A more involved example that expects a 404 to be raised, should the first policy under rules fail authorization, and a 403 to be raised for any subsequent policy authorization failure:

                             expected_error_codes=[404, 403, 403])
def test_update_network_shared(self):

    """Update Shared Network Test

    RBAC test for the neutron update_network:shared policy
    with self.override_role():
    self.addCleanup(self._update_network, shared_network=False)

Note that above the following expected error codes/rules relationship is observed:

  • “get_network” => 404
  • “update_network” => 403
  • “update_network:shared” => 403


Multi-policy validation in RBAC tests comes with limitations, due to technical and practical challenges.

Technically, there are challenges associated with multiple policies across cross-service API communication in OpenStack, such as between Nova and Cinder or Nova and Neutron. The current framework does not account for these cross-service policy enforcement workflows, and it is still up for debate whether it should.

Practically, it is not possible to enumerate every policy enforced by every API in Patrole, as the maintenance overhead would be huge.

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