TWiki Access Control
Restricting read and write access to topics and webs, by Users and groups
allows you restrict access to single topics and entire webs, by individual user and by user Groups, in three areas: view; edit & attach; and rename/move/delete. Access control, combined with TWikiUserAuthentication
, lets you easily create and manage an extremely flexible, fine-grained privilege system.
An Important Control Consideration
Open, freeform editing is the essence of WikiCulture
- what makes TWiki different and often more effective than other collaboration tools. For that reason, it is strongly recommended that decisions to restrict read or write access to a web or a topic are made with care - the more restrictions, the less Wiki in the mix. Experience shows that unrestricted write access
works very well because:
- Peer influence is enough to ensure that only relevant content is posted.
- Peer editing - the ability for anyone to rearrange all content on a page - keeps topics focussed.
- In TWiki, content is transparently preserved under revision control:
- Edits can be undone by the TWikiAdminGroup (the default administrators group; see #ManagingGroups).
- Users are encouraged to edit and refactor (condense a long topic), since there's a safety net.
As a collaboration guideline
- Create broad-based Groups (for more and varied input), and...
- Avoid creating view-only Users (if you can read it, you should be able to contribute to it).
Users and Groups
Access control is based on the familiar concept of Users and Groups. Users are defined by their WikiNames
. They can then be organized in unlimited combinations by inclusion in one or more user Groups. For convenience, Groups can also be included in other Groups.
A user is created with the TWikiRegistration
form. The process generates a topic in the Main web in the new user's WikiName
. The default visitor name is TWikiGuest
- Users can be authenticated using Basic Authentication (htaccess) or SSL (secure server). In either case, TWikiUserAuthentication is required in order to track user identities, and use User and Group access control.
Groups are defined by group topics created in the
web, like the TWikiAdminGroup
. To create a new group:
Edit TWikiGroups by entering a new topic with a name that ends in
- Set Preferences for two Variables in the new group topic:
Set GROUP = < list of Users and/or Groups >
Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and/or Groups >
- The GROUP variable is a comma-separated list of Users and/or other Groups. Example:
Set GROUP = Main.SomeUser, Main.OtherUser, Main.SomeGroup
- ALLOWTOPICCHANGE defines who is allowed to change the group topic; it is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. You typically want to restrict that to the members of the group itself, so it should contain the name of the topic. (This prevents Users not in the Group from editing the topic to give themselves or others access. For example, for the TWikiAdminGroup topic write:
Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = Main.TWikiAdminGroup
Restricting Write Access
You can define who is allowed to make changes to a web or a topic.
Deny Editing by Topic
Denying editing of a topic also restricts file attachment; both privileges are assigned together.
- Define one or both of these variables in a topic, preferably at the end of the page:
Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
- DENYTOPICCHANGE defines Users or Groups that are not allowed to make changes to the topic, with a comma-delimited list. Example:
Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeBadBoy, Main.SomeBadGirl, Main.SomeHackerGroup
- ALLOWTOPICCHANGE defines Users or Groups that are allowed to make changes to the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeGoodGuy, Main.SomeGoodGirl, Main.TWikiAdminGroup
- DENYTOPICCHANGE is evaluated before ALLOWTOPICCHANGE. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYTOPICCHANGE list, or not in the ALLOWTOPICCHANGE list. Access is granted in case DENYTOPICCHANGE and ALLOWTOPICCHANGE is not defined.
Deny Editing by Web
Restricting web-level editing blocks creating new topics, changing topics or attaching files.
- Define one or both of these variable in the WebPreferences topic:
Set DENYWEBCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
Set ALLOWWEBCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
The same rules apply as for restricting topics, with these additions:
- DENYTOPICCHANGE (in topic) overrides DENYWEBCHANGE (in WebPreferences)
- ALLOWTOPICCHANGE (in topic) overrides ALLOWWEBCHANGE (in WebPreferences)
Restricting Rename Access
You can define who is allowed to rename, move or delete a topic, or rename a web.
Deny Renaming by Topic
To allow a user to rename, move or delete a topic, they also need write (editing) permission. They also need write access to change references in referring topics.
- Define one or both of these variables in a topic, preferably at the end of the topic:
Set DENYTOPICRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
Set ALLOWTOPICRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
- DENYTOPICCRENAME defines Users or Groups that are not allowed to rename the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
Set DENYTOPICRENAME = Main.SomeBadBoy, Main.SomeBadGirl, Main.SomeHackerGroup
- ALLOWTOPICRENAME defines Users or Groups that are allowed to rename the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
Set ALLOWTOPICRENAME = Main.SomeGoodGuy, Main.SomeGoodGirl, Main.TWikiAdminGroup
- DENYTOPICRENAME is evaluated before ALLOWTOPICRENAME. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYTOPICRENAME list, or not in the ALLOWTOPICRENAME list. Access is granted in case DENYTOPICRENAME and ALLOWTOPICRENAME is not defined.
Deny Renaming by Web
You can define restrictions of who is allowed to rename a TWiki web.
- Define one or both of these variable in the WebPreferences topic:
Set DENYWEBRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
Set ALLOWWEBRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
The same rules apply as for topics, with these additions:
- DENYTOPICRENAME (in topic) overrides DENYWEBRENAME (in WebPreferences)
- ALLOWTOPICRENAME (in topic) overrides ALLOWWEBRENAME (in WebPreferences)
Restricting Web Access
You can prevent selected Users and Groups from accessing certain webs, by hiding them using restricting read access, or by requiring login. There are two basic methods, one simple, using standard preferences variables to hide a web, but offering low security, and a secure log-in approach that is currently a workaround, involving some minor script and filesystem modification.
Create Hidden Webs
You can prevent selected Users and Groups from viewing certain TWiki webs by setting one or both of these variables in each web's WebPreferences
Set DENYWEBVIEW = < list of Users and Groups >
Set ALLOWWEBVIEW = < list of Users and Groups >
If keeping a hidden web out of general use is a consideration, you can prevent the
search option from accessing hidden webs, by enabling the
variable in WebPreferences
Hiding webs is not very secure
Set NOSEARCHALL = on
- It is not recommended to restrict view access to individual topics since all content is searchable within a web.
- This method only works if the
view script is authenticated, which means that all Users have to login, even for read-only access. (An open guest account, like TWikiGuest, can get around this, allowing anyone to login to a common account with, for example, view-only access for public webs.) TWikiInstallationGuide has more on Basic Authentication, using the
, as there is a way to circumvent the read access restriction. It can be useful in certain situations - for example, to simplify site organization and clutter, by hiding low traffic webs - but is not recommended for securing sensitive content. (See the next section for a more secure approach.)
Create Authenticated Access By Web
Use the following setup to provide unrestricted viewing access to open webs, with authentication only on selected webs:
- Omit the
view script from the
- Enable the
$doRememberRemoteUser flag in
lib/TWiki.cfg as described in TWikiUserAuthentication. TWiki will now remember the IP address of an authenticated user.
- Copy the
view script to
viewauth (or better, create a symbolic link)
viewauth to the list of authenticated scripts in the .htaccess file.
- When a user accesses a web where you enabled view restriction, TWiki will redirect from the
view script to the
viewauth script once (this happens only if the user has never edited a topic). Doing so will ask for authentication. The
viewauth script shows the requested topic if the user could log on and if the user is authorized to see that web.
- If you enable view restriction for a web, it is recommended to restrict search "all webs" from searching this web. Enable this restriction with the
NOSEARCHALL variable in its WebPreferences, like:
- It is not recommended to restrict view access to individual topics since all content is searchable within a web - a search will turn up the "hidden" topic.
Hiding Control Settings
- To hide access control settings from normal browser viewing, place them in comment markers.
- Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeGroup
By mistyping a user or group name in the ALLOWTOPICCHANGE setting, it's possible to lock a topic so that no-one can edit it from a browser. To avoid this, you can create Web-based superusers
- Set the
$superAdminGroup variable in
lib/TWiki.cfg to the name of a group of Users who are always allowed to edit/view topics.
$superAdminGroup = "TWikiAdminGroup";
- The default setting is not to have superusers.
- 04 May 2002
- 12 May 2002