System Administration Guide: Security Services

Expanding a User or Role's Privileges

Users and roles have an inheritable set of privileges, and a limit set of privileges. The limit set cannot be expanded, since the limit set is initially all privileges. The initial inheritable set can be expanded for users, roles, and systems. A privilege that is not in the inheritable set can also be assigned to a process.

The assignment of privileges per process is the most precise way to add privileges. You can expand the number of privileged operations that a user can perform by enabling the user to assume a role. The role would be assigned profiles that include commands with added privileges. When the user assumes the role, the user gets the role's profile shell. By typing in the role's shell, the commands in the role's profiles execute with the added privileges.

You can also assign a profile to the user rather than to a role that the user assumes. The profile would include commands with added privileges. When the user opens a profile shell, such as pfksh, the user can execute the commands in the user's profile with privilege. In a regular shell, the commands do not execute with privilege. The privileged process can only execute in a privileged shell.

To expand the initial inheritable set of privileges for users, roles, or systems is a riskier way to assign privileges. All privileges in the inheritable set are in the permitted and effective sets. All commands that the user or role types in a shell can use the directly assigned privileges. Directly assigned privileges enable a user or role to easily perform operations that can be outside the bounds of their administrative responsiblities.

When you add to the initial inheritable set of privileges on a system, all users who log on to the system have a larger set of basic privileges. Such direct assignment enables all users of the system to easily perform operations that are probably outside the bounds of ordinary users.