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Secure Nomad with Access Control

Nomad ACL Tokens Fundamentals

Nomad uses tokens to authenticate requests to the cluster. These tokens are created using the nomad acl token create command. When a token is being created, the operator can specify one or more policies to apply to the token. These policies determine if any action specified by the token bearer is authorized. This guide will demonstrate this process and teach you how to inspect existing tokens.

Earlier in the track, you generated a management token during bootstrap. For this guide, you will need to have either that token or another management token set in the NOMAD_TOKEN environment variable. Replace BOOTSTRAP_SECRET_ID in the following command with a bootstrap or management token:

## Store our token secret ID

»Examine a token

You can use the nomad acl token self command to get the information about your current token. Remember, you must have the token in the NOMAD_TOKEN environment variable or pass it in via the -token flag.

$ nomad acl token self
Accessor ID  = 59baab4d-1c7b-9605-37e5-5690ec7e6c3a
Secret ID    = 948bb149-8266-904d-8824-58b25529a8ca
Name         = Bootstrap Token
Type         = management
Global       = true
Policies     = n/a
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 18:51:33.446571 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 9
Modify Index = 9

»Token internals

A token contains:

  • Accessor ID - The public identifier for a specific token. It can be used to look up information about a token or to revoke a token.

  • Secret ID - Used to make requests to Nomad and should be kept private

  • Name (optional) - A user-supplied identifier.

  • Type - Shows the type of the token. Management tokens are used for administration and can be thought of as root-level tokens. Client tokens are used for applications and can have policies assigned to them at creation.

  • Global - (bool) Indicates whether or not the token was created with the --global flag. Global tokens are replicated from the authoritative region to other connected regions in the cluster.

  • Policies - ([string]) A list of the policies assigned to the token.

  • Create Time - Wall clock time on the Nomad server leader when the token was generated.

  • Create/Modification index - Used by Nomad internally to determine when a token was created and/or modified relative to other system events.

»Token types

You can observe in the output above that the token in question is a management token, but what is a Nomad token type?

There are two types of tokens: management and client tokens.

Management tokens can perform any action in your cluster. Because they allow all requests, they can not be associated with a policy.

Client tokens are associated with one or more policies when they are created, and can perform an action if any associated policy allows it.

Tokens can be associated with policies that do not exist, which is equivalent to granting no capabilities.

»Token replication settings

Nomad has two token types: local and global. Local tokens are created and stored within the current Nomad region. However, for multi-region clusters, you can also create global tokens which are created in the authoritative region and replicated to the other regions.

Nomad creates local tokens by default. They can not be used for cross-region requests since they are not replicated between regions.

When ACL tokens are created, you can optionally mark them as Global. Global tokens are created in the authoritative region and then replicate to all other regions.

Use the -global flag on the nomad acl token create command or set the "Global" parameter to true in your Create Token API call to create global tokens.

»Token names

Token names are optional information that is provided by the user at creation time. Token names can be used for human-readable values, like "Bootstrap Token" on tokens that Nomad creates during the bootstrap process. Token names are not required to be unique and can not be used for identification of a specific token.

You can store up to 256 characters in the token name, so it can also be used for machine generated identifiers. You can use Unicode in this field as well:

$ nomad acl token create -name="🤞"
Accessor ID  = c46ba94a-0653-4135-a5e7-aaa307e64e9b
Secret ID    = 1783bc34-ad82-4f82-d36e-e2def1fe8453
Name         = 🤞
Type         = client
Global       = false
Policies     = []
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 19:22:51.196728 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 42
Modify Index = 42

»Generate a management token

Management tokens are necessary for working with the Nomad ACL API. You can have as many management tokens as you like. They are revocable at any time by another management token. However, if you lose all of your management tokens, you will have to re-bootstrap your ACL subsystem.

Create a management token:

$ nomad acl token create -name="New Management Token" -type="management"
Accessor ID  = a57be18f-31ed-a8f9-682c-be9b16d5db77
Secret ID    = 775b2821-e0f4-3ad9-0f69-44d973daf737
Name         = New ManagementToken
Type         = management
Global       = false
Policies     = n/a
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 19:32:25.078669 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 53
Modify Index = 53

Your token material will be different. Load this management token into your environment for the next step. Replace the token with the Secret ID from the output of the token create command.

$ export NOMAD_TOKEN=775b2821-e0f4-3ad9-0f69-44d973daf737

»Generate a client token

The primary token type used in an ACL-enabled cluster is a "client" token. Client tokens allow you to specify one or more policies when creating a token. The policies determine what Nomad resources that the token-bearer has access to.

Create a client token called "client1" that is associated with the policies "app1" and "app2". It does not matter that these policies do not yet exist. Nonexistent policies provide no capabilities to a token, but they will not cause an error.

$ nomad acl token create -name="client1" -policy="app1" -policy="app2"
Accessor ID  = a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8
Secret ID    = 950e462b-b333-dd52-1e18-76837e9b97fa
Name         = client1
Type         = client
Global       = false
Policies     = [app1 app2]
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 20:10:11.600915 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 19
Modify Index = 19

Generate a global token named "client2" that has access to the app2 policy.

$ nomad acl token create -name="client2" -global -policy="app2"
Accessor ID  = ab3b15dc-1647-a81d-c637-90be45440d18
Secret ID    = 6d164ce7-c8b8-82a2-a350-bb0bcb43010a
Name         = client2
Type         = client
Global       = true
Policies     = [app2]
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 20:42:00.683964 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 53
Modify Index = 53

»Use a token

You can provide a token for CLI commands in two ways:

  • Use the -token flag. Be mindful that flags must come before positional parameters.

    $ nomad acl token self -token=05392bd8-bb8a-8f63-a405-53c87b0d7d63


    $ nomad job run -token=05392bd8-bb8a-8f63-a405-53c87b0d7d63 example.nomad
  • Set the NOMAD_TOKEN environment variable. An advantage of this approach is that you do no longer have to be concerned with argument ordering.

    $ export NOMAD_TOKEN="«Token to use»"
    $ nomad status
    No running jobs

For direct API calls, you will need to supply the token using the "X-Nomad-Token" header. This can be paired nicely with the NOMAD_TOKEN environment variable or can be passed directly. This example requires you to have set the NOMAD_ADDR environment variable to the protocol, address, and port for your NOMAD API, e.g.

$ curl --header "X-Nomad-Token: ${NOMAD_TOKEN}" ${NOMAD_ADDR}/v1/jobs

»Inspect a token via accessor

Token accessors are the unique public identifier for a token. They can be safely stored in the clear and are used by management token-bearers to get information about a token, update a token, or revoke a token.

Use the accessor for the "client1" token to inspect it.

$ nomad acl token info a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8
Accessor ID  = a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8
Secret ID    = 950e462b-b333-dd52-1e18-76837e9b97fa
Name         = client1
Type         = client
Global       = false
Policies     = [app1 app2]
Create Time  = 2020-01-23 20:10:11.600915 +0000 UTC
Create Index = 19
Modify Index = 19

You can get this same data from the API:

$ curl --header "X-Nomad-Token: ${NOMAD_TOKEN}" \
    "AccessorID": "a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8",
    "CreateIndex": 19,
    "CreateTime": "2020-01-23T20:10:11.600915Z",
    "Global": false,
    "Hash": "bY2538leml33LX7mIIBYT2ngBDMhpie065x+4/pQWJ0=",
    "ModifyIndex": 19,
    "Name": "client1",
    "Policies": [
    "SecretID": "950e462b-b333-dd52-1e18-76837e9b97fa",
    "Type": "client"

»Delete a token via accessor

Sometimes a token needs to be revoked. You can do that by running the nomad acl token delete command and supplying the accessor of the token to revoke. You must use a management token to run this command.

Clean up the three tokens you made in this guide. Switch to the first token you used in the start of the guide:

$ export NOMAD_TOKEN=«original token»

Run the nomad acl token delete command and pass in the accessor of the created tokens. The example output below uses the token IDs from the earlier examples.

Revoke the client1 token.

$ nomad acl token delete a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8
Token a7bef400-a66c-d163-52c4-5ff4978f19b8 successfully deleted

Revoke client2.

$ nomad acl token delete ab3b15dc-1647-a81d-c637-90be45440d18
Token ab3b15dc-1647-a81d-c637-90be45440d18 successfully deleted

Revoke the "New Management Token".

$ nomad acl token delete a57be18f-31ed-a8f9-682c-be9b16d5db77
Token a57be18f-31ed-a8f9-682c-be9b16d5db77 successfully deleted

»Next Steps

Next, you will explore policy creation in Nomad through a scenario.