The Dynamic Security plugin is a plugin for Eclipse Mosquitto which provides role based authentication and access control features that can updated whilst the broker is running, using a special topic based API.
It is supported since Eclipse Mosquitto 2.0, and should be available in all installations, but will not be activated by default.
The Cedalo Management Center provides a web user interface for managing the dynamic security feature.
This section describes the concepts of how the plugin operates.
The plugin allows you to create three main objects,
This document will use the term
clients to mean the clients defined in the
users to mean the MQTT clients that connect to the
When you want a device or user to be able to connect and authenticate to the broker, you create a client. Each client has the following attributes:
The client username maps to the username provided in the CONNECT packet when a device connects. The username is unique across the plugin, so attempting to create a client with a duplicate username will result in an error. The username acts as the primary key if you want to change anything about the client.
The client password maps to the password provided in the CONNECT packet when a device connects. The password may be unset when a client is created, this will mean that devices will be unable to connect as the corresponding client.
The password can be updated at any point, but only by a client with the correct access. Devices typically cannot update their own passwords.
The client id maps to the client id provided in the CONNECT packet when a device connects. This is an optional attribute.
If the client id is empty or not provided, then any device can connect with the username for this client regardless of its client id. This means that multiple devices could connect with the same credentials at the same time, but sharing credentials between devices is not recommended.
If the client id is set, then a device can only connect as this client if the triple of username, password, and client id all match those in the client.
A client can be a member of any number of groups.
A client can be assigned to any number of roles. A role gives the client access to different topics.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly name to this client.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly description to this client.
A client can be set to be enabled/disabled at any point. Disabling a client means that any devices currently connected using the credentials for that client will be disconnected and unable to reconnect.
Multiple clients can be placed in a group. Groups can have roles assigned to them, so using groups is appropriate where you have a number of clients that need to have the same access.
Groups have the following attributes:
The group name is the primary name for the group. It is used when modifying the group in any way, such as adding a client or a role.
A group can be assigned to any number of roles. A role gives the group access to different topics.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly name to this group.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly description to this group.
Roles contain multiple access control lists (ACLs), and can be assigned to clients and/or groups.
Roles have the following attributes:
The role name is the primary name for the role. It is used when modifying the role in any way, such as adding an ACL.
Access Control Lists
ACLs are the feature which allows access to topics to be controlled. Checks are
made on different events as they happen:
event occurs when a device sends a PUBLISH message to the broker, i.e. "is the
device allowed to publish to this topic". The
occurs when a device is due to receive a PUBLISH message from the broker, i.e.
it has a valid subscription and a matching message has been published to the
subscribe event occurs in response to a device sending a
SUBSCRIBE message, and the
unsubscribe event occurs in response to a device
sending an UNSUBSCRIBE packet.
The default behaviour of the different events can be set to allow or deny access. The default behaviour applies if no matching ACL is found.
The default behaviour for the different events when the plugin has first been configured is:
There is some overlap between
subscribe. In most
cases, using a
subscribe ACL is sufficient to provide the control you need,
however by combining the two types it is possible to e.g. allow subscriptions
to a wildcard topic like
topic/#, but deny access for device to receive
messages on a specific topic within that hierarchy like 'topic/secret'.
The different events have ACL types associated with them, and it is these ACLs
that you will add to your roles. Each ACL has a
priority, and can
be set to
publishClientReceive ACL types map directly to
the events of the same name. The topic can contain wildcards, so allowing to send
topic/# will allow devices to publish to all topics in the
topic/# hierarchy, including
unsubscribe events have two ACL types each:
*Literal ACL types make a literal comparison between the topic filter
provided for the ACL and the topic filter provided in the SUBSCRIBE or
UNSUBSCRIBE message. This means that setting a
subscribeLiteral ACL with
# to deny would prevent matching devices from subscribing the
# topic filter only, but still allow them to subscribe to
*Pattern ACL types allow or deny access based on a wildcard comparison of
the ACL topic filter and the topic provided in the SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE
message. This means that setting a
subscribePattern ACL with topic filter
to deny would prevent matching devices from subscribing to any topic at all.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly name to this role.
This is an optional text field to give a human friendly description to this role.
If you are working with more than one role per client or group, or more than one group per client, then it is crucial to understand how roles and ACLs are applied.
The order in which checks are made is determined in part by the
groups, roles and ACLs. Each client group has a priority, each client role and
group role has a priority, and each ACL within a role has a priority. If not
set explicitly, priorities will default to -1.
For each of the group, role, and ACL objects, checks are made in priority order from the highest numerical value to the lowest numerical value. If two objects of the same type have the same priority, then they will be checked in lexographical order according to the username/groupname/rolename, but it is advised to use unique priorities per object type.
When an event occurs that needs an ACL check, the ACLs for that ACL type are checked in order until there is a matching ACL for the topic in question.
Within each role that is checked, the ACLs are checked in priority order.
The roles assigned to a client are checked first, in priority order. Each client group is checked in priority order, with all the roles in a group being checked in priority order before the next group is checked.
As an example, let us assume we have the following client, groups, and roles:
temperature (priority 2),
humidity (priority 1)
input (priority 5),
output (priority 1)
All the documentation so far assumes that you do not allow anonymous unauthenticated access - meaning devices or users that connect without a username.
You may wish to allow anonymous access, but still make use of the dynamic security plugin, and this is supported through the automatic anonymous group. If allowed, anything connecting without a username will be assigned to a group that you define. By assigning roles to that group, you can control what anonymous devices can access.
To use the Dynamic Security plugin, it must be configured in the broker and an initial plugin configuration must be generated.
To configure the broker, add the following to your configuration file.
On Linux you would expect the plugin library to be installed to
/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/mosquitto_dynamic_security.so or a similar path,
but this will vary depending on the particular distribution and hardware in
It is recommended to use
per_listener_settings false with this plugin, so all
listeners use the same authentication and access control.
dynamic-security.json file is where the plugin configuration will be
stored. To generate an initial file, use the
mosquitto_ctrl dynsec init path/to/dynamic-security.json admin-user
Choose your own
admin-user username. You will be asked for a password for the
client. This user will be assigned the
admin role, which has the following
$CONTROL/dynamic-security/#- this allows the client to control the Dynamic security plugin.
$CONTROL/dynamic-security/#- this allows the client to receive information from the plugin. This is not necessary in the default configuration, but is included in case the default behavior for
publishClientReceiveis set to
$CONTROL/dynamic-security/#- this allows the client to receive information from the plugin.
$SYS/#- this allows the client to see the broker metrics.
$SYS/#- this allows the client to see the broker metrics.
#- this allows the client to examine the messages being published by other clients.
#- this allows the client to examine the messages being published by other clients.
#- this allows the client to undo previous subscriptions. This is not necessary in the default configuration, but is included in case the default behavior for
unsubscribeis set to
The admin user does not have access to publish to normal application topics in
# hierarchy by default. You are strongly encouraged to keep the admin
user purely for administering the plugin, and create other clients for your
All control of the plugin after initial installation is through the MQTT topic API at $CONTROL/dynamic-security/v1. This allows integrations to be built, but isn't the best choice for people to use directly. The mosquitto_ctrl command provided with Mosquitto implements support for the dynamic security plugin API, as described below. Other options include the Management Center for Mosquitto which is an open source web based tool for controlling the plugin and other features. The Management Center is not part of the Mosquitto project.
Using mosquitto_ctrl with a running broker
The initial configuration is the only time that
mosquitto_ctrl does not
connect to a broker to carry out the configuration. All other commands require
a connection to a broker, and hence a username, password, and whatever else is
required for that particular connection. It is strongly recommended that your
broker connection uses encryption so that your configuration, including new
passwords, is not transmitted in plain text.
The connection options must be given before the
dynsec part of the command
mosquitto_ctrl <connection options> dynsec <command> ...
mosquitto_ctrl -u admin -h localhost dynsec <command> ...
It is possible to provide the admin password on the command line using
password, but this is not recommended. If you do not provide a password,
mosquitto_ctrl will ask you to enter the password when it is needed.
Using an options file
For convenience, mosquitto_ctrl can load an options file which contains a list of options it should use. This means you can set the encryption options, host, admin username and any other options once and not have to add them to the command line every time.
mosquitto_ctrl will try to load a configuration file from a default location.
For Windows this is at
%USER_PROFILE%\mosquitto_ctrl.conf. For other systems,
it will try
You may override this behavior by manually specifying an options file with
-o <path to options file>.
The options file should contain a list of options, one per line, exactly as they would be provided on the command line. For example:
See this page for the full list of options available for
Configuring default access
The initial configuration sets the default ACL type behaviors to:
If you wish to change these, use
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setDefaultACLAccess publishClientSend deny
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setDefaultACLAccess publishClientReceive deny
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setDefaultACLAccess subscribe deny
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setDefaultACLAccess unsubscribe deny
You can examine the current default access with the
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec getDefaultACLAccess unsubscribe
Creating and modifying clients
To create a new client:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec createClient <username>
This creates a client which does not have a client id associated with it. You will be asked for the password for the new client before you are asked for the admin user password. Pay attention to the messages on the command line.
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec createClient <username> -i <client id>
This creates a client which has a client id associated with it.
To delete a client (clients connected with these credentials will be disconnected from the broker):
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec deleteClient <username>
To disable a client (clients connected with these credentials will be disconnected from the broker):
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec disableClient <username>
To enable a client (clients will be able to use these credentials to log in again):
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec enableClient <username>
To set a client password:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setClientPassword <username>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setClientPassword <username> <password>
To add/remove a role to/from a client:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec addClientRole <username> <rolename> <priority>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec removeClientRole <username> <rolename>
To get information on a client:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec getClient <username>
To list all clients:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec listClients
modifyClient command also exists in the topic API, but is not currently available in
Creating and modifying groups
To create a new group:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec createGroup <groupname>
To delete a group:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec deleteGroup <groupname>
To add/remove a client to/from a group:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec addGroupClient <groupname> <username> <priority>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec removeGroupClient <groupname> <username>
In this case the
priority refers to the priority of the group within the
client's list of groups.
To add/remove a role to/from a group:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec addGroupRole <groupname> <rolename> <priority>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec removeGroupRole <groupname> <rolename>
To set/get the group that anonymous devices are assigned to:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec setAnonymousGroup <groupname>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec getAnonymousGroup
To get information on a group:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec getGroup <groupname>
To list all groups:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec listGroups
modifyGroup command also exists in the topic API, but is not currently
Creating and modifying roles
To create a new role:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec createRole <rolename>
To delete a role:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec deleteRole <rolename>
To add an ACL to a role:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec addRoleACL <rolename> <acltype> <topic filter> allow|deny <priority>
acltype is one of
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec addRoleACL <rolename> clientPublishSend client/topic allow 5
To remove an ACL from a role using the topic filter as the key:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec removeRoleACL <rolename> <acltype> <topic filter>
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec removeRoleACL <rolename> clientPublishSend client/topic
To get information on a role:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec getRole <rolename>
To list all roles:
mosquitto_ctrl <options> dynsec listRoles
modifyRole command also exists in the topic API, but is not currently