The pitfalls of transparent security

time to read 2 min | 299 words

A long time ago, I needed to implement a security subsystem for an application. I figured that it was best to make the entire security subsystem transparent to the developer, under the assumption that if the infrastructure would take care of security, it would make a lot more sense than relying on the developer to remember to add the security calls.

It took me a long while to realize how wrong that decision was. Security is certainly important, but security doesn’t apply to the system itself. In other words, while a specific user may not be allowed to read/write to the audit log, actions that the user made should be written to that log. That is probably the simplest case, but that are a lot of similar ones.

Ever since then, I favored using an explicit approach:

var books = session.CreateQuery("from Books")

This also help you implement more interesting features, such as “on behalf of”. And yes, it does put the onus of security on the developer, but considering the alternative, that is a plus.