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Implementing business, data, and security compliance


Business, data, and security compliance is achieved through implementing comprehensive security measures and adhering to regulatory requirements to ensure the robustness and compliance of the Splunk environment. You want to ensure that only authorized users gain access to sensitive data and system functionalities by enforcing strong access controls, securing data, and minimizing attack vectors. The strategies provided in this pathway will help you accomplish these goals. You can work through them sequentially or in any order that suits your current level of progress in compliance.

This article is part of the Mitigate Risk Outcome. For additional pathways to help you succeed with this outcome, click here to see the Mitigate Risk overview.

Role-based access control (RBAC)

Implementing role-based access control in Splunk software is crucial for secure and efficient data management. This guide covers essential steps for setting up RBAC, from assessing user roles to configuring authentication and regular audits.

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This section outlines the following steps in establishing role-based access control:

  1. Assessing user roles and responsibilities
  2. Understanding predefined roles
  3. Creating custom roles
  4. Configuring role-based authentication
  5. Auditing and reviewing regularly

Assessing user roles and responsibilities

Before setting up RBAC, begin by assessing your organization's various roles and responsibilities. Identify key user groups and the tasks they need to perform in the Splunk platform. Categorize users into roles that reflect their job functions, such as administrators, analysts, and data engineers. This initial assessment forms the foundation for creating custom roles with specific access levels. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to assess user roles and responsibilities:

  1. Identify Key Stakeholders: Begin by identifying key stakeholders, teams, and departments within your organization that interact with the Splunk platform. These could include IT administrators, data analysts, security teams, and business users.
  2. Conduct Stakeholder Interviews: Schedule interviews with representatives from each stakeholder group to gather insights into their responsibilities and how they interact with the Splunk platform. Ask them about their specific data access needs, what tasks they perform, and validate the level of access required to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
  3. Review Existing Documentation: Examine any existing documentation, job descriptions, or role profiles that outline the responsibilities of various teams and individuals. This can provide valuable information about the tasks and data access requirements associated with each role.
  4. Analyze Data Access Patterns: Analyze historical data access patterns (if available) to identify common queries, searches, and reports used by different teams. This analysis can shed light on the type of data each role typically accesses and the level of permissions they require.
  5. Collaborate with IT and Security Teams: Work closely with IT and security teams to understand any specific security and compliance requirements that might impact data access and user roles. Consider data sensitivity and regulatory constraints while defining access levels.
  6. Categorize User Groups: Based on the information gathered from interviews, documentation, and data analysis, categorize users into distinct groups or roles. Each role should represent a specific job function or set of responsibilities within your organization.
  7. Define Role Descriptions: Create clear role descriptions for each category, outlining the tasks, data access, and responsibilities associated with the role. Ensure that each role description is well-defined and aligns with your organization's overall objectives.
  8. Determine Role Hierarchy: Establish a role hierarchy to define the relationships between different roles. Some roles might have higher privileges and capabilities, and it's essential to understand how roles interact and inherit permissions.
  9. Validate Role Assessments: Validate the role assessments with the stakeholders to ensure accuracy and completeness. Seek feedback from teams to identify any discrepancies or additional access requirements.
  10. Document the Findings: Document the results of the role assessment, including role descriptions, data access requirements, and role hierarchy. This documentation will serve as a reference for setting up RBAC and performing future audits.

Understanding predefined roles

Predefined roles are pre-configured role templates provided by Splunk that come with specific capabilities and permissions. These roles serve as a starting point for assigning access levels to users based on their responsibilities within your organization. Here's how an organization can understand predefined roles:

  1. Access Documentation: The Table of Splunk platform capabilities in Splunk Docs contains detailed information about the predefined roles available in the Splunk platform and their respective capabilities.
  2. Review Role Definitions: Review the definitions and descriptions of each predefined role to understand their intended purpose and scope. For example, roles such as Admin, Power User, and others might have different levels of administrative access and data search capabilities.
  3. Identify Role Capabilities: Predefined roles come with certain privileges that determine the level of access (such as edit saved searches, access specific indexes, and create alerts) to platform resources. For instance, an admin might have capabilities to manage users and configurations, while a user might have capabilities limited to creating and running searches. Examine the capabilities associated with each predefined role.
  4. Evaluate Role Scenarios: Consider various scenarios within your organization and assess which predefined role aligns best with each scenario. For example, an IT administrator responsible for managing the entire Splunk deployment might require the "admin" role, while a data analyst focused on creating and running searches might fit the "user" role.
  5. Compare Role Overlaps: Identify any overlaps or redundancies between predefined roles. Ensure that users do not have multiple roles with conflicting capabilities that could lead to unintended access rights.
  6. Consider Customization: Starting from predefined roles provides a solid foundation; however, organizations often require tailored access permissions to align with their specific needs. Custom roles offer the flexibility to address unique access requirements without altering the out-of-the-box (OOTB) roles, which is considered a best practice. These custom roles can be crafted by combining capabilities from various predefined roles or by creating roles from scratch to ensure access restrictions cater to individual demands.
  7. Align with Organizational Policies: Ensure that the predefined roles align with your organization's security and compliance policies. Consider data sensitivity, regulatory requirements, and separation of duties while assigning roles to users.
  8. Perform User Role Mapping: Map the predefined roles to real users and their respective responsibilities within your organization. This exercise helps in visualizing the access levels and identifying any gaps or inconsistencies.
  9. Conduct Training: Train the relevant stakeholders, including IT administrators, security teams, and business users, on the predefined roles, their capabilities, and best practices for role-based access management.

Creating custom roles

  1. Navigate to the Splunk Web interface and access the Settings menu.
  2. Under Access Controls, select Roles to create custom roles tailored to your organization's needs.
  3. Define each role's capabilities, such as search permissions, index access, and administrative privileges.
  4. Leverage role inheritance to streamline the process and ensure consistency across roles.

For more detailed guidance, a complete step-by-step guide on how to create custom roles is described in Create and manage roles with Splunk Web.

Configuring role-based authentication

Integrate your organization's authentication method with Splunk Cloud Platform or Splunk Enterprise. Choose between LDAP or SAML, depending on your existing infrastructure and security requirements. LDAP provides authentication through your organization's existing LDAP server or Splunk native authentication, while SAML supports integration with compliant identity providers.


To set up LDAP authentication in the Splunk platform, follow the guidance in Set up user authentication with LDAP.

To manage user roles with LDAP, follow the guidance in Manage Splunk user roles with LDAP.


To setup SAML authentication in the Splunk platform, follow the guidance in Configure single sign-on with SAML.

To manage user roles with SAML, follow the guidance in Map groups on a SAML identity provider to Splunk roles.

Auditing and reviewing regularly

Maintaining RBAC effectiveness requires periodic audits and role reviews. Regularly assess user access rights and capabilities, ensuring they align with current job responsibilities. Remove access for users who no longer require specific privileges and update roles as organizational needs change. Here's how an organization can effectively conduct RBAC auditing and reviews:

  1. Define RBAC Policies and Objectives: Start by establishing clear RBAC policies and objectives that align with your organization's security and data access requirements. These policies should outline the roles, permissions, and responsibilities for each user or user group.
  2. Schedule Regular Audits: Set a schedule for conducting periodic RBAC audits. The frequency of audits might vary based on organizational needs, but it is generally recommended to perform them at least annually or whenever significant changes occur within your organization.
  3. Identify Audit Scope: Determine the scope of the audit, including the specific roles, users, and permissions that will be reviewed. Ensure that all critical areas, such as administrative privileges and access to sensitive data, are thoroughly assessed.
  4. Use RBAC Reports and Analytics: Leverage built-in reporting and analytics tools within the Splunk platform to generate RBAC-specific reports. These reports can help identify discrepancies, unauthorized access, and potential security risks.
  5. Review Access Requests and Changes: Evaluate access requests and changes made to user roles regularly. Ensure that all changes are properly authorized and align with the RBAC policies. Keep a record of these changes for future reference.
  6. Monitor User Activity: Monitor user activity and behavior to identify any anomalies or suspicious actions. Regularly review log data to track user access patterns and detect potential unauthorized activities.
  7. Conduct User Entitlement Reviews: Periodically review user entitlements to ensure that they still require access to their assigned roles and permissions. Remove any unnecessary access rights promptly.
  8. Validate Role Mappings: Verify that the mapping of LDAP groups or other external authentication sources to Splunk roles is accurate and up to date. Ensure that new users are assigned appropriate roles when added to LDAP groups.
  9. Involve Stakeholders: Involve relevant stakeholders, such as IT administrators, data owners, and business unit heads, in the RBAC review process. Collaborate with them to verify user access requirements and ensure compliance with security policies.
  10. Document Findings and Remediation Actions: Document the findings of the RBAC audit, including any discrepancies or areas for improvement. Implement remediation actions promptly to address any identified issues.
  11. Conduct Training and Awareness: Provide training and awareness sessions for users, administrators, and other personnel involved in the RBAC process. Ensure that they understand the importance of RBAC and their role in maintaining secure access controls.
  12. Continuously Improve RBAC Processes: Use the insights gained from the audit to refine and enhance RBAC processes. Regularly reassess RBAC policies and objectives to adapt to changing organizational needs and evolving security threats.

By following these steps, organizations can proactively manage RBAC configurations, enhance security, and maintain a robust and well-controlled Splunk environment. Regular RBAC auditing ensures that access controls remain effective and aligned with your organization's security and compliance goals.

Helpful resources

Splunk OnDemand Services: Use these credit-based services for direct access to Splunk technical consultants with a variety of technical services from a pre-defined catalog. Most customers have OnDemand Services per their license support plan. Engage the ODS team at if you require assistance.