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Permissions

Managing Your DAO

At Aragon, we believe that DAOs are permission management systems. Permissions between contracts and wallets allow a DAO to manage and govern its actions.

Here, you will learn how the permissions in Aragon OSx work, how they can be granted and revoked from wallets and contracts, and how they are managed through the DAO.

As we mentioned earlier, it is essential that only the right person or contract can execute a certain action. As a developer, you might have seen or used modifiers such as onlyOwner in contracts. This onlyOwner modifier provides basic access control to your DAO: only the owner address is permitted to execute the function to which the modifier is attached.

In Aragon OSx, we follow the same approach but provide more advanced functionality: Each DAO contracts includes a PermissionManager contract allowing to flexibly, securely, and collectively manage permissions through the DAO and, thus, govern its actions. This PermissionManager, called ACL in previous Aragon OS versions, was one big reason why our protocol never got hacked. The code and configuration of a DAO specifies which wallets or contracts (who) are allowed to call which authorized functions on a target contract (where). Identifiers, permissions, and modifiers link everything together.

Permission Identifiers

To differentiate between different permissions, permission identifiers are used that you will frequently find at the top of Aragon OSx contracts. They look something like this:

@aragon/osx/core/dao/DAO.sol
bytes32 public constant EXECUTE_PERMISSION_ID = keccak256("EXECUTE_PERMISSION");

Permissions

A permission specifies an address who being allowed to call certain functions on a contract address where. In the PermissionManager contract, permissions are defined as the concatenation of the word "PERMISSION" with the who and where address, as well as the bytes32 permission identifier permissionId.

@aragon/osx/core/permission/PermissionManager.sol
function permissionHash(
address _where,
address _who,
bytes32 _permissionId
) internal pure returns (bytes32) {
return keccak256(abi.encodePacked('PERMISSION', _who, _where, _permissionId));
}

This concatenated information is then stored as keccak256 hashes inside a mapping like this one:

@aragon/osx/core/permission/PermissionManager.sol
mapping(bytes32 => address) internal permissionsHashed;

Here, the bytes32 keys are the permission hashes and the address values are either zero-address flags, such as ALLOW_FLAG = address(2) and UNSET_FLAG = address(0) indicating if the permission is set, or an actual address pointing to a PermissionCondition contract, which is discussed in the next section of this guide.

Authorization Modifiers

Using authorization modifiers is how we make functions permissioned. Permissions are associated with functions by adding the auth modifier, which includes the permission identifier in the function’s definition header.

For example, one can call the execute function in the DAO when the address making the call has been granted the EXECUTE_PERMISSION_ID permission.

@aragon/osx/core/dao/DAO.sol
function execute(
bytes32 callId,
Action[] calldata _actions,
uint256 allowFailureMap
)
external
override
auth(address(this), EXECUTE_PERMISSION_ID)
returns (bytes[] memory execResults, uint256 failureMap);

Managing Permissions

To manage permissions, the DAO contract has the grant, revoke and grantWithCondition functions in its public interface.

Granting and Revoking Permissions

The grant and revoke functions are the main functions we use to manage permissions. Both receive the _permissionId identifier of the permission and the _where and _who addresses as arguments.

@aragon/osx/core/permission/PermissionManager.sol
function grant(
address _where,
address _who,
bytes32 _permissionId
) external auth(_where, ROOT_PERMISSION_ID);

To prevent these functions from being called by any address, they are themselves permissioned via the auth modifier and require the caller to have the ROOT_PERMISSION_ID permission in order to call them.

note

Typically, the ROOT_PERMISSION_ID permission is granted only to the DAO contract itself. Contracts related to the Aragon infrastructure temporarily require it during the DAO creation and plugin setup processes.

This means, that these functions can only be called through the DAO’s execute function that, in turn, requires the calling address to have the EXECUTE_PERMISSION_ID permission.

note

Typically, the EXECUTE_PERMISSION_ID permission is granted to governance contracts (such as a majority voting plugin owned by the DAO or a multi-sig). Accordingly, a proposal is often required to change permissions. Exceptions are, again, the DAO creation and plugin setup processes.

Granting Permission with Conditions

Aragon OSx supports relaying the authorization of a function call to another contract inheriting from the IPermissionCondition interface. This works by granting the permission with the grantWithCondition function

@aragon/osx/core/permission/PermissionManager.sol
function grantWithCondition(
address _where,
address _who,
bytes32 _permissionId,
PermissionCondition _condition
) external auth(_where, ROOT_PERMISSION_ID) {}

and specifying the _condition contract address. This provides full flexibility to customize the conditions under which the function call is allowed.

Typically, conditions are written specifically for and installed together with plugins.

To learn more about this advanced topic and possible applications, visit the permission conditions section.

Granting Permission to ANY_ADDR

In combination with conditions, the arguments _where and _who can be set to ANY_ADDR = address(type(uint160).max). Granting a permission with _who: ANY_ADDR has the effect that any address can now call the function so that it behaves as if the auth modifier is not present. Imagine, for example, you wrote a decentralized service

contract Service {
function use() external auth(USE_PERMISSION_ID);
}

Calling the use() function inside requires the caller to have the USE_PERMISSION_ID permission. Now, you want to make this service available to every user without uploading a new contract or requiring every user to ask for the permission. By granting the USE_PERMISSION_ID to _who: ANY_ADDR on the contract _where: serviceAddr you allow everyone to call the use() function and you can add more conditions to it. If you later on decide that you want to be more selective about who is allowed to call it, you can revoke the permission to ANY_ADDR.

Granting a permission with _where: ANY_ADDR to a condition has the effect that is granted on every contract. This is useful if you want to give an address _who permission over a large set of contracts that would be too costly or too much work to be granted on a per-contract basis. Imagine, for example, that many instances of the Service contract exist, and a user should have the permission to use all of them. By granting the USE_PERMISSION_ID with _where: ANY_ADDR, to some user _who: userAddr, the user has access to all of them. If this should not be possible anymore, you can later revoke the permission.

However, some restrictions apply. For security reasons, Aragon OSx does not allow you to use both, _where: ANY_ADDR and _who: ANY_ADDR in the same permission. Furthermore, the permission IDs of permissions native to the DAO Contract cannot be used. Moreover, if a condition is set, we return its isGranted result and do not fall back to a more generic one. The condition checks occur in the following order

  1. Condition with specific _who and specific where.
  2. Condition with generic _who: ANY_ADDR and specific _where.
  3. Condition with specific _where and generic _who: ANY_ADDR.

Permissions Native to the DAO Contract

The following functions in the DAO are permissioned:

FunctionsPermission IdentifierDescription
grant, grantWithCondition, revokeROOT_PERMISSION_IDRequired to manage permissions of the DAO and associated plugins.
executeEXECUTE_PERMISSION_IDRequired to execute arbitrary actions.
_authorizeUpgradeUPGRADE_DAO_PERMISSION_IDRequired to upgrade the DAO (via the UUPS).
setMetadataSET_METADATA_PERMISSION_IDRequired to set the DAO’s metadata and DAOstar.one DAO URI.
setTrustedForwarderSET_TRUSTED_FORWARDER_PERMISSION_IDRequired to set the DAO’s trusted forwarder for meta transactions.
registerStandardCallbackREGISTER_STANDARD_CALLBACK_PERMISSION_IDRequired to register a standard callback for an ERC-165 interface ID.

Plugins installed on the DAO might introduce other permissions and associated permission identifiers.

In the next section, you will learn how to customize your DAO by installing plugins.

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