Glossary of common terms for OKD authentication and authorization

This glossary defines common terms that are used in OKD authentication and authorization.


An authentication determines access to an OKD cluster and ensures only authenticated users access the OKD cluster.


Authorization determines whether the identified user has permissions to perform the requested action.

bearer token

Bearer token is used to authenticate to API with the header Authorization: Bearer <token>.

Cloud Credential Operator

The Cloud Credential Operator (CCO) manages cloud provider credentials as custom resource definitions (CRDs).

config map

A config map provides a way to inject configuration data into the pods. You can reference the data stored in a config map in a volume of type ConfigMap. Applications running in a pod can use this data.


Lightweight and executable images that consist software and all its dependencies. Because containers virtualize the operating system, you can run containers in a data center, public or private cloud, or your local host.

Custom Resource (CR)

A CR is an extension of the Kubernetes API.


A group is a set of users. A group is useful for granting permissions to multiple users one time.


HTPasswd updates the files that store usernames and password for authentication of HTTP users.


Keystone is an OpenStack project that provides identity, token, catalog, and policy services.

Lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP)

LDAP is a protocol that queries user information.

manual mode

In manual mode, a user manages cloud credentials instead of the Cloud Credential Operator (CCO).

mint mode

Mint mode is the default and recommended best practice setting for the Cloud Credential Operator (CCO) to use on the platforms for which it is supported. In this mode, the CCO uses the provided administrator-level cloud credential to create new credentials for components in the cluster with only the specific permissions that are required.


A namespace isolates specific system resources that are visible to all processes. Inside a namespace, only processes that are members of that namespace can see those resources.


A node is a worker machine in the OKD cluster. A node is either a virtual machine (VM) or a physical machine.

OAuth client

OAuth client is used to get a bearer token.

OAuth server

The OKD control plane includes a built-in OAuth server that determines the user’s identity from the configured identity provider and creates an access token.

OpenID Connect

The OpenID Connect is a protocol to authenticate the users to use single sign-on (SSO) to access sites that use OpenID Providers.

passthrough mode

In passthrough mode, the Cloud Credential Operator (CCO) passes the provided cloud credential to the components that request cloud credentials.


A pod is the smallest logical unit in Kubernetes. A pod is comprised of one or more containers to run in a worker node.

regular users

Users that are created automatically in the cluster upon first login or via the API.

request header

A request header is an HTTP header that is used to provide information about HTTP request context, so that the server can track the response of the request.

role-based access control (RBAC)

A key security control to ensure that cluster users and workloads have access to only the resources required to execute their roles.

service accounts

Service accounts are used by the cluster components or applications.

system users

Users that are created automatically when the cluster is installed.


Users is an entity that can make requests to API.

About authentication in OKD

To control access to an OKD cluster, a cluster administrator can configure user authentication and ensure only approved users access the cluster.

To interact with an OKD cluster, users must first authenticate to the OKD API in some way. You can authenticate by providing an OAuth access token or an X.509 client certificate in your requests to the OKD API.

If you do not present a valid access token or certificate, your request is unauthenticated and you receive an HTTP 401 error.

An administrator can configure authentication through the following tasks:

About authorization in OKD

Authorization involves determining whether the identified user has permissions to perform the requested action.

Administrators can define permissions and assign them to users using the RBAC objects, such as rules, roles, and bindings. To understand how authorization works in OKD, see Evaluating authorization.

You can also control access to an OKD cluster through projects and namespaces.

Along with controlling user access to a cluster, you can also control the actions a pod can perform and the resources it can access using security context constraints (SCCs).

You can manage authorization for OKD through the following tasks: