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Access Control

NetBird allows administrators to restrict access to resources (peers) by creating access rules and defining what peer groups are permitted to establish connections with one another.

Introduction

A NetBird account comes with a Default rule that allows all peers of the account to connect to each other forming a full mesh network. In most cases, this is the desired state for a small network or network that has low-security requirements. When you need to restrict access to certain resources that belong to specific users or services within your organization, you can create rules that dictate who can access what.

Access control rules make use of groups to control connections between peers; these groups can be added as Source or Destination of a rule and will be evaluated when the Management service distributes the list of peers across your network.

Concepts

Groups

A NetBird group works and follows a similar concept to tags in other platforms; they are easily created and can be associated with peers and used in rules to control traffic within your network.

Some characteristics of groups:

  • They are unique.
  • One group can have multiple peers.
  • Peers can belong to multiple groups.
  • Rules can have multiple groups in their Source and Destination lists.
  • They are created in the Access Control or Peers tabs.
  • They can only be deleted via API.
  • There is a default group called All.

The All Group

The All group is a default group to which every peer in your network is automatically added to. This group cannot be modified or deleted.

Rules

Rules are lists of Source and Destination groups of peers that can communicate with each other. Rules are processed when the Management service distributes a network map to all peers of your account. Because you can only create ALLOW rules, there is no processing order or priority, so the decision to distribute peer information is based on its association with a group belonging to an existing rule.

Currently, the communication between lists of groups in source and destination lists of a rule is bidirectional, meaning that destinations can also initiate connections to a group of peers listed in the source field of the rule.

The behavior of a network without any rules is to deny traffic. No peers will be able to communicate with each other.

tip

If you need to allow peers from the same group to communicate with each other, just add the same group to the Source and Destination lists.

The Default Rule

The Default rule is created when you first create your account. This rule is very permissive because it allows communication between all peers in your network. It uses the All group as a source and destination. If you want to have better control over your network, it is recommended that you delete this rule and create more restricted rules with custom groups.

tip

If you need to restrict communication within your network, you can create new rules and use different groups, and then remove the default rule to achieve the desired behavior.

Multiple Mesh Networks

As mentioned above, rules are bidirectional, which is basically the control of how your network will behave as a mesh network.

There is a Default rule, which configures a Default mesh connection between all peers of your network. With rules, you can define smaller mesh networks by grouping peers and adding these groups to Source and Destination lists.

Managing Rules

Creating Rules

After accessing the Access Control tab, you can click on the Add Rule button to create a new rule. This will open a screen where you need to name the rule, set its status, and add groups to the source and destination lists.

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If required, you can create new groups by simply entering new names in the input box for either source or destination lists.

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Once you are done configuring the rule, click the Create button to save it. You will then see your new rule in the table.

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Reminder

Because of its permissiveness, new rules will take effect once you remove the Default rule.

Adding peers to groups

If you create a new group when defining a rule, you will need to associate peers with this group. You can do it by accessing the Peers tab and clicking the Groups column of any peer you want to associate with the new group.

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Updating Rules

To update a rule, you can click on the rule's Name or on either Sources and Destinations columns. You could also click the menu button of a rule and select View. This will open the same screen where you can update rule groups, description, or status.

Disabling Rules

To disable a rule, you should follow the steps of updating rules changing its status, and then click on Save.

Deleting Rules

To delete a rule, you should click on the rule's menu and choose Delete. A confirmation window will pop up.

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