How to Secure Graphql Subscriptions with Redis ACLs

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In the last post, we saw how we can add subscriptions to our Graphql server. This post will show how to set up an ACL (Access Control List) for Redis to restrict access to trusted clients.

Setting up Redis ACL (Access Control list)

Create a new file and call it users.acl. In this file, we want to do 3 things.

  • disable the default user
  • add an admin user who is the same as a default user but has an explicit username.
  • add a restricted user with access to a specific channel.

Disable the default user

By default, a single user without any restrictions is defined. We can disable the default user by adding user default off

Create an admin user

user admin on nopass ~* &* +@@all

This line creates a user with the username admin. This user is configured to be

  • on: active
  • nopass: require no password
  • ~*: access every possible key
  • &*: access every Pub/Sub channel
  • +@@all: able to call every possible command

Create a restricted user for Graphql subscriptions

user test on nopass ~* resetchannels &cdd/graphql_subscriptions/* -@@all +@@connection +@@pubsub

This line creates a user with the username test. This user is configured to be

  • on: active
  • nopass: require no password
  • ~*: access every possible key
  • resetchannels: : Resetsw the list of allowed channel patterns and disconnect the user from channels it doesnt have access to anymore.
  • &graphql_subscriptions/*: access everything under the graphql_subscriptions channel
  • -@@all +@@connection +@@pubsub: Restrict access to the connection and pubsub commands.

Setting up Redis configuration

The redis.conf file allows us to configure Redis and set up authentication.

aclfile /usr/local/etc/redis/users.acl

This tells Redis that we want to use an external aclfile found at /usr/local/etc/redis/.

Updating Hot Chocolate to use a custom user

In our Startup.cs class, we need to update the configuration options to set the user for the Redis server. We also set the channelPrefix as the graphpqlSubscriptionUser only has access to graphql_subscriptions channel.

public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    var options = new ConfigurationOptions
                EndPoints = { "localhost:6379" },
                User = "graphpqlSubscriptionUser",
                ChannelPrefix = "graphql_subscriptions/"

        .AddRedisSubscriptions(_ => ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect(options));

Adding a docker compose file

version: '3'
    image: redis:6.2-alpine
      - "6379:6379"
      - ./redis.conf:/usr/local/etc/redis/redis.conf
      - ./users.acl:/usr/local/etc/redis/users.acl
    container_name: redis-graphql
    command: redis-server /usr/local/etc/redis/redis.conf

Then we can run the command docker-compose up --force-recreate -d --build to start the Redis container.

Demo Project

There is a demo project you can check out over on GitHub.

Further Reading