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Snowflake Access Pattern

Audience: Data Owners and Data Users

Content Summary: This page discusses how users can access protected data directly in Snowflake. For a tutorial detailing how to manage Snowflake Workspaces, navigate to the Project Owner Guide.

Overview

Snowflake workspaces allow users to access protected data directly in Snowflake without having to go through the Immuta Query Engine.

Typically, Immuta applies policies by forcing users to query through the Query Engine, which acts like a proxy in front of the database Immuta is protecting. However, Snowflake secure views make this process unnecessary. Instead, Immuta enforces policy logic on data and represents it as secure views in Snowflake. However, since secure views are static, creating a secure view for every unique user in your organization for every table in your organization would result in secure view bloat. Immuta projects address this problem by virtually grouping users and tables and equalizing users to the same level of access, ensuring that all members of the project see the same view of the data. Consequently, all members share one secure view.

Beyond interacting directly with Snowflake secure views in these workspaces, users can create derived data sources and collaborate with other project members at a common access level. Because these derived data sources will inherit all appropriate policies, that data can then be shared outside the project. Additionally, derived data sources use the credentials of the Immuta system Snowflake account, which will allow them to persist after a workspace is disconnected.

Policy Enforcement

Immuta enforces policy logic on data and represents it as secure views in Snowflake. Because projects group users and tables and equalize members to the same level of access, all members will see the same view of the data and, consequently, will only need one secure view. Changes to policies immediately propagate to relevant secure views.

Mapping Projects to Secure Views

Immuta projects are represented as Session Contexts within Snowflake. As they are linked to Snowflake, projects automatically create corresponding

  • roles in Snowflake: IMMUTA_[project name]
  • schemas in the Snowflake IMMUTA database: [project name]
  • secure views in the project schema for any table in the project

If users switch projects, they simply change their Snowflake Session Context to the appropriate Immuta project. If users are not entitled to a data source contained by the project, they will not be able to access the Context in Snowflake until they have access to all tables in the project. If changes are made to a user's attributes, the changes will immediately propagate to the Snowflake context.

Using Immuta with an Existing Snowflake Account

The following steps allow Immuta to be used with existing Snowflake accounts.

  1. Immuta is configured to integrate with the organization’s Snowflake account and (optionally) share a single sign on (such as Okta), allowing users in Immuta to map to the same users in Snowflake. (Alternatively, that mapping can be inferred by using the same usernames in both Snowflake and Immuta.)

  2. CREATE_DATA_SOURCE permissions are granted to specific users to allow them to expose Snowflake table metadata and enforce policies.

  3. If tags are used to drive policies, users can manually add tags when tables are imported, Immuta can automatically tag sensitive data (if Sensitive Data Detection is enabled), or users can pull tags from external catalogs that are mapped to the tables being exposed.

  4. Policies are created and enforced on tables.

  5. The CREATE_PROJECT permission is granted to specific users so they can create their own Immuta projects and create the appropriate Snowflake contexts. These users can drive what projects and hence what Snowflake contexts exist. Note: When users leave a project or a project is deleted, that Snowflake context will be removed from their Snowflake accounts.

  6. The CREATE_DATA_SOURCE_IN_PROJECT permission is given to specific users so they can expose their derived tables in the project; the derived tables will inherit the policies, and then the data can be shared outside the project.

  7. Users access data only through secure views in Snowflake (via Immuta projects), which significantly decreases the amount of role management for administrators in Snowflake. Organizations should also consider having a user in Snowflake who is able to create databases and make GRANTs on those databases and having separate users who are able to read and write from those tables.

Benefits

  • Few roles to manage in Snowflake; that complexity is pushed to Immuta, which is designed to simplify it.
  • A small set of users has direct access to raw tables; most users go through secure views only, but raw database access can be segmented across departments.
  • Policies are built by the individual database administrators within Immuta and are managed in a single location, and changes to policies are automatically propagated across thousands of tables’ secure views.
  • Self-service access to data based on data policies.
  • Users work in various contexts in Snowflake natively, based on their collaborators and their purpose, without fear of leaking data.
  • All policies are enforced natively in Snowflake without performance impact.

    • Security is maintained through Snowflake primitives (roles and secure views).
    • Performance and scalability is maintained (no proxy).
  • Policies can be driven by metadata, allowing massive scale policy enforcement with only a small set of actual policies.

  • Derived tables can be shared back out through Immuta, improving collaboration.
  • User access and removal are immediately reflected in secure views.

Limitations

  • Snowflake workspaces do not support differential privacy policies. Any Snowflake sources with differential privacy policies applied will not be created within the native Snowflake workspace.
  • Native derived data sources can't be query-backed.