Drill supports Kerberos v5 network security authentication and encryption. Kerberos is a network authentication protocol built on symmetric-key cryptography. Kerberos eliminates the need to store passwords locally or send them over the network and reduces the risk of impersonation.

Kerberos provides a security infrastructure called a Kerberos Realm. A Kerberos Realm is comprised of clients, services or hosts, and a KDC (key-distribution center). The KDC is a trusted third-party service that generates tickets to coordinate authentication between a client and server or host. Tickets are cached on the client machine, which allows for single sign-on.

Clients use a password or a special file called a “keytab” to get tickets from the KDC. Clients exchange the tickets and secret keys with the KDC and service or host to prove their identity for access to the requested service. This authentication process of exchanging tickets and secret keys runs in the background, unseen by the user trying to access the service. When a client request to access a service is granted, a unique session key is established between the client and service. The unique session key proves the authenticity of the user. The session key is used for all communication between the client and service. Kerberos also supports encryption between the client and server to prevent data theft from a man-in-the-middle attack during communication.

A KDC administrator must create the password or keytab for the clients and servers, as well as a principal (a name for the user or server identity) to securely authenticate using the Kerberos infrastructure.
Note: Proper setup, configuration, administration, and usage of a Kerberos environment is beyond the scope of this documentation. See the MIT Kerberos documentation for more detailed information about Kerberos.

The following sections list the prerequisites for using Kerberos with Drill and describe the authentication process.


  • The MapR Drill driver includes the required Kerberos plugin to authenticate to secure Kerberos Drill clusters. To use Kerberos with Drill, you must have a working Kerberos infrastructure, which Drill does not provide.
  • Either a ticket granting ticket (TGT) is pre-generated on the client node, or a keytab file and the client principal is available to provide in the connection URL for Kerberos authentication between the Drill client and Drill server. Drill does not generate the TGT.
  • You must be working in a Linux-based or Windows Active Directory (AD) Kerberos environment with secure clusters and have a Drill server configured for Kerberos.

Client Authentication Process

This section provides a high-level overview of the Kerberos client authentication process. For this overview, assume that Kerberos credentials are present in the client.

The following diagram shows the process of authenticating a client:

  1. The client sends a request for a ticket granting ticket that contains the user principal to the Kerberos KDC, a network service that supplies tickets and temporary session keys.
  2. The authentication server validates the principal’s identity and sends the client a ticket granting ticket and session key encrypted with a secret key. A session key is a temporary encryption key used for one login session.
  3. Using the ticket granting ticket, the principal requests access to a Drillbit service from the ticket granting server.
  4. The ticket granting server checks for a valid ticket granting ticket and the principal identity. If the request is valid, the ticket granting server returns a ticket granting service ticket.
  5. The client uses the service ticket to request access to the Drillbit.
  6. The Drillbit service has access to the keytab, a file that contains a list of keys for principals. The key allows the service to decrypt the client’s ticket granting service ticket, identify the principal, and grant access.

Server Authentication Process

For Kerberos server authentication information, see the MIT Kerberos administration documentation.

Configuring Drill with Kerberos

The topics listed below provide configuration and connection information.