Pyramid provides an optional, declarative, security system. Security in Pyramid is separated into authentication and authorization. The two systems communicate via principal identifiers. Authentication is merely the mechanism by which credentials provided in the request are resolved to one or more principal identifiers. These identifiers represent the users and groups that are in effect during the request. Authorization then determines access based on the principal identifiers, the requested permission, and a context.

The Pyramid authorization system can prevent a view from being invoked based on an authorization policy. Before a view is invoked, the authorization system can use the credentials in the request along with the context resource to determine if access will be allowed. Here's how it works at a high level:

  • A user may or may not have previously visited the application and supplied authentication credentials, including a userid. If so, the application may have called to remember these.

  • A request is generated when a user visits the application.

  • Based on the request, a context resource is located through resource location. A context is located differently depending on whether the application uses traversal or URL dispatch, but a context is ultimately found in either case. See the URL Dispatch chapter for more information.

  • A view callable is located by view lookup using the context as well as other attributes of the request.

  • If an authentication policy is in effect, it is passed the request. It will return some number of principal identifiers. To do this, the policy would need to determine the authenticated userid present in the request.

  • If an authorization policy is in effect and the view configuration associated with the view callable that was found has a permission associated with it, the authorization policy is passed the context, some number of principal identifiers returned by the authentication policy, and the permission associated with the view; it will allow or deny access.

  • If the authorization policy allows access, the view callable is invoked.

  • If the authorization policy denies access, the view callable is not invoked. Instead the forbidden view is invoked.

Authorization is enabled by modifying your application to include an authentication policy and authorization policy. Pyramid comes with a variety of implementations of these policies. To provide maximal flexibility, Pyramid also allows you to create custom authentication policies and authorization policies.

Enabling an Authorization Policy

Pyramid does not enable any authorization policy by default. All views are accessible by completely anonymous users. In order to begin protecting views from execution based on security settings, you need to enable an authorization policy.

Enabling an Authorization Policy Imperatively

Use the set_authorization_policy() method of the Configurator to enable an authorization policy.

You must also enable an authentication policy in order to enable the authorization policy. This is because authorization, in general, depends upon authentication. Use the set_authentication_policy() method during application setup to specify the authentication policy.

For example:

1from pyramid.config import Configurator
2from pyramid.authentication import AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy
3from pyramid.authorization import ACLAuthorizationPolicy
4authn_policy = AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy('seekrit', hashalg='sha512')
5authz_policy = ACLAuthorizationPolicy()
6config = Configurator()


The authentication_policy and authorization_policy arguments may also be passed to their respective methods mentioned above as dotted Python name values, each representing the dotted name path to a suitable implementation global defined at Python module scope.

The above configuration enables a policy which compares the value of an "auth ticket" cookie passed in the request's environment which contains a reference to a single userid, and matches that userid's principals against the principals present in any ACL found in the resource tree when attempting to call some view.

While it is possible to mix and match different authentication and authorization policies, it is an error to configure a Pyramid application with an authentication policy but without the authorization policy or vice versa. If you do this, you'll receive an error at application startup time.

See also

See also the pyramid.authorization and pyramid.authentication modules for alternative implementations of authorization and authentication policies.

Protecting Views with Permissions

To protect a view callable from invocation based on a user's security settings when a particular type of resource becomes the context, you must pass a permission to view configuration. Permissions are usually just strings, and they have no required composition: you can name permissions whatever you like.

For example, the following view declaration protects the view named add_entry.html when the context resource is of type Blog with the add permission using the pyramid.config.Configurator.add_view() API:

1# config is an instance of pyramid.config.Configurator
4                name='add_entry.html',
5                context='mypackage.resources.Blog',
6                permission='add')

The equivalent view registration including the add permission name may be performed via the @view_config decorator:

1from pyramid.view import view_config
2from resources import Blog
4@view_config(context=Blog, name='add_entry.html', permission='add')
5def blog_entry_add_view(request):
6    """ Add blog entry code goes here """
7    pass

As a result of any of these various view configuration statements, if an authorization policy is in place when the view callable is found during normal application operations, the requesting user will need to possess the add permission against the context resource in order to be able to invoke the blog_entry_add_view view. If they do not, the Forbidden view will be invoked.

Setting a Default Permission

If a permission is not supplied to a view configuration, the registered view will always be executable by entirely anonymous users: any authorization policy in effect is ignored.

In support of making it easier to configure applications which are "secure by default", Pyramid allows you to configure a default permission. If supplied, the default permission is used as the permission string to all view registrations which don't otherwise name a permission argument.

The pyramid.config.Configurator.set_default_permission() method supports configuring a default permission for an application.

When a default permission is registered:

  • If a view configuration names an explicit permission, the default permission is ignored for that view registration, and the view-configuration-named permission is used.

  • If a view configuration names the permission, the default permission is ignored, and the view is registered without a permission (making it available to all callers regardless of their credentials).


When you register a default permission, all views (even exception view views) are protected by a permission. For all views which are truly meant to be anonymously accessible, you will need to associate the view's configuration with the permission.

Assigning ACLs to Your Resource Objects

When the default Pyramid authorization policy determines whether a user possesses a particular permission with respect to a resource, it examines the ACL associated with the resource. An ACL is associated with a resource by adding an __acl__ attribute to the resource object. This attribute can be defined on the resource instance if you need instance-level security, or it can be defined on the resource class if you just need type-level security.

For example, an ACL might be attached to the resource for a blog via its class:

1from import Allow
2from import Everyone
4class Blog(object):
5    __acl__ = [
6        (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
7        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'add'),
8        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'edit'),
9        ]

Or, if your resources are persistent, an ACL might be specified via the __acl__ attribute of an instance of a resource:

 1from import Allow
 2from import Everyone
 4class Blog(object):
 5    pass
 7blog = Blog()
 9blog.__acl__ = [
10        (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
11        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'add'),
12        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'edit'),
13        ]

Whether an ACL is attached to a resource's class or an instance of the resource itself, the effect is the same. It is useful to decorate individual resource instances with an ACL (as opposed to just decorating their class) in applications such as content management systems where fine-grained access is required on an object-by-object basis.

Dynamic ACLs are also possible by turning the ACL into a callable on the resource. This may allow the ACL to dynamically generate rules based on properties of the instance.

 1from import Allow
 2from import Everyone
 4class Blog(object):
 5    def __acl__(self):
 6        return [
 7            (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
 8            (Allow, self.owner, 'edit'),
 9            (Allow, 'group:editors', 'edit'),
10        ]
12    def __init__(self, owner):
13        self.owner = owner


Writing __acl__ as properties is discouraged because an AttributeError occurring in fget or fset will be silently dismissed (this is consistent with Python getattr and hasattr behaviors). For dynamic ACLs, simply use callables, as documented above.

Elements of an ACL

Here's an example ACL:

1from import Allow
2from import Everyone
4__acl__ = [
5        (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
6        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'add'),
7        (Allow, 'group:editors', 'edit'),
8        ]

The example ACL indicates that the principal—a special system-defined principal indicating, literally, everyone—is allowed to view the blog, and the group:editors principal is allowed to add to and edit the blog.

Each element of an ACL is an ACE, or access control entry. For example, in the above code block, there are three ACEs: (Allow, Everyone, 'view'), (Allow, 'group:editors', 'add'), and (Allow, 'group:editors', 'edit').

The first element of any ACE is either, or, representing the action to take when the ACE matches. The second element is a principal. The third argument is a permission or sequence of permission names.

A principal is usually a user id, however it also may be a group id if your authentication system provides group information and the effective authentication policy policy is written to respect group information. See Extending Default Authentication Policies.

Each ACE in an ACL is processed by an authorization policy in the order dictated by the ACL. So if you have an ACL like this:

1from import Allow
2from import Deny
3from import Everyone
5__acl__ = [
6    (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
7    (Deny, Everyone, 'view'),
8    ]

The default authorization policy will allow everyone the view permission, even though later in the ACL you have an ACE that denies everyone the view permission. On the other hand, if you have an ACL like this:

1from import Everyone
2from import Allow
3from import Deny
5__acl__ = [
6    (Deny, Everyone, 'view'),
7    (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
8    ]

The authorization policy will deny everyone the view permission, even though later in the ACL, there is an ACE that allows everyone.

The third argument in an ACE can also be a sequence of permission names instead of a single permission name. So instead of creating multiple ACEs representing a number of different permission grants to a single group:editors group, we can collapse this into a single ACE, as below.

1from import Allow
2from import Everyone
4__acl__ = [
5    (Allow, Everyone, 'view'),
6    (Allow, 'group:editors', ('add', 'edit')),
7    ]

Special Principal Names

Special principal names exist in the module. They can be imported for use in your own code to populate ACLs, e.g.,

Literally, everyone, no matter what. This object is actually a string under the hood (system.Everyone). Every user is the principal named "Everyone" during every request, even if a security policy is not in use.

Any user with credentials as determined by the current security policy. You might think of it as any user that is "logged in". This object is actually a string under the hood (system.Authenticated).

Special Permissions

Special permission names exist in the module. These can be imported for use in ACLs.

An object representing, literally, all permissions. Useful in an ACL like so: (Allow, 'fred', ALL_PERMISSIONS). The ALL_PERMISSIONS object is actually a stand-in object that has a __contains__ method that always returns True, which, for all known authorization policies, has the effect of indicating that a given principal has any permission asked for by the system.

Special ACEs

A convenience ACE is defined representing a deny to everyone of all permissions in This ACE is often used as the last ACE of an ACL to explicitly cause inheriting authorization policies to "stop looking up the traversal tree" (effectively breaking any inheritance). For example, an ACL which allows only fred the view permission for a particular resource, despite what inherited ACLs may say when the default authorization policy is in effect, might look like so:

1from import Allow
2from import DENY_ALL
4__acl__ = [ (Allow, 'fred', 'view'), DENY_ALL ]

Under the hood, the ACE equals the following:

1from import ALL_PERMISSIONS
2__acl__ = [ (Deny, Everyone, ALL_PERMISSIONS) ]

ACL Inheritance and Location-Awareness

While the default authorization policy is in place, if a resource object does not have an ACL when it is the context, its parent is consulted for an ACL. If that object does not have an ACL, its parent is consulted for an ACL, ad infinitum, until we've reached the root and there are no more parents left.

In order to allow the security machinery to perform ACL inheritance, resource objects must provide location-awareness. Providing location-awareness means two things: the root object in the resource tree must have a __name__ attribute and a __parent__ attribute.

1class Blog(object):
2    __name__ = ''
3    __parent__ = None

An object with a __parent__ attribute and a __name__ attribute is said to be location-aware. Location-aware objects define a __parent__ attribute which points at their parent object. The root object's __parent__ is None.

See also

See also pyramid.location for documentations of functions which use location-awareness.

See also

See also Location-Aware Resources.

Changing the Forbidden View

When Pyramid denies a view invocation due to an authorization denial, the special forbidden view is invoked. Out of the box, this forbidden view is very plain. See Changing the Forbidden View within Using Hooks for instructions on how to create a custom forbidden view and arrange for it to be called when view authorization is denied.

Debugging View Authorization Failures

If your application in your judgment is allowing or denying view access inappropriately, start your application under a shell using the PYRAMID_DEBUG_AUTHORIZATION environment variable set to 1. For example:

PYRAMID_DEBUG_AUTHORIZATION=1 $VENV/bin/pserve myproject.ini

When any authorization takes place during a top-level view rendering, a message will be logged to the console (to stderr) about what ACE in which ACL permitted or denied the authorization based on authentication information.

This behavior can also be turned on in the application .ini file by setting the pyramid.debug_authorization key to true within the application's configuration section, e.g.:

2use = egg:MyProject
3pyramid.debug_authorization = true

With this debug flag turned on, the response sent to the browser will also contain security debugging information in its body.

Debugging Imperative Authorization Failures

The pyramid.request.Request.has_permission() API is used to check security within view functions imperatively. It returns instances of objects that are effectively booleans. But these objects are not raw True or False objects, and have information attached to them about why the permission was allowed or denied. The object will be one of,,, or, as documented in At the very minimum, these objects will have a msg attribute, which is a string indicating why the permission was denied or allowed. Introspecting this information in the debugger or via print statements when a call to has_permission() fails is often useful.

Extending Default Authentication Policies

Pyramid ships with some built in authentication policies for use in your applications. See pyramid.authentication for the available policies. They differ on their mechanisms for tracking authentication credentials between requests, however they all interface with your application in mostly the same way.

Above you learned about Assigning ACLs to Your Resource Objects. Each principal used in the ACL is matched against the list returned from pyramid.interfaces.IAuthenticationPolicy.effective_principals(). Similarly, pyramid.request.Request.authenticated_userid() maps to pyramid.interfaces.IAuthenticationPolicy.authenticated_userid().

You may control these values by subclassing the default authentication policies. For example, below we subclass the pyramid.authentication.AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy and define extra functionality to query our database before confirming that the userid is valid in order to avoid blindly trusting the value in the cookie (what if the cookie is still valid, but the user has deleted their account?). We then use that userid to augment the effective_principals with information about groups and other state for that user.

 1from pyramid.authentication import AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy
 3class MyAuthenticationPolicy(AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy):
 4    def authenticated_userid(self, request):
 5        userid = self.unauthenticated_userid(request)
 6        if userid:
 7            if request.verify_userid_is_still_valid(userid):
 8                return userid
10    def effective_principals(self, request):
11        principals = [Everyone]
12        userid = self.authenticated_userid(request)
13        if userid:
14            principals += [Authenticated, str(userid)]
15        return principals

In most instances authenticated_userid and effective_principals are application-specific, whereas unauthenticated_userid, remember, and forget are generic and focused on transport and serialization of data between consecutive requests.

Creating Your Own Authentication Policy

Pyramid ships with a number of useful out-of-the-box security policies (see pyramid.authentication). However, creating your own authentication policy is often necessary when you want to control the "horizontal and vertical" of how your users authenticate. Doing so is a matter of creating an instance of something that implements the following interface:

 1class IAuthenticationPolicy(object):
 2    """ An object representing a Pyramid authentication policy. """
 4    def authenticated_userid(self, request):
 5        """ Return the authenticated :term:`userid` or ``None`` if
 6        no authenticated userid can be found. This method of the
 7        policy should ensure that a record exists in whatever
 8        persistent store is used related to the user (the user
 9        should not have been deleted); if a record associated with
10        the current id does not exist in a persistent store, it
11        should return ``None``.
12        """
14    def unauthenticated_userid(self, request):
15        """ Return the *unauthenticated* userid.  This method
16        performs the same duty as ``authenticated_userid`` but is
17        permitted to return the userid based only on data present
18        in the request; it needn't (and shouldn't) check any
19        persistent store to ensure that the user record related to
20        the request userid exists.
22        This method is intended primarily a helper to assist the
23        ``authenticated_userid`` method in pulling credentials out
24        of the request data, abstracting away the specific headers,
25        query strings, etc that are used to authenticate the request.
26        """
28    def effective_principals(self, request):
29        """ Return a sequence representing the effective principals
30        typically including the :term:`userid` and any groups belonged
31        to by the current user, always including 'system' groups such
32        as ```` and
33        ````.
34        """
36    def remember(self, request, userid, **kw):
37        """ Return a set of headers suitable for 'remembering' the
38        :term:`userid` named ``userid`` when set in a response.  An
39        individual authentication policy and its consumers can
40        decide on the composition and meaning of **kw.
41        """
43    def forget(self, request):
44        """ Return a set of headers suitable for 'forgetting' the
45        current user on subsequent requests.
46        """

After you do so, you can pass an instance of such a class into the set_authentication_policy method at configuration time to use it.

Creating Your Own Authorization Policy

An authorization policy is a policy that allows or denies access after a user has been authenticated. Most Pyramid applications will use the default pyramid.authorization.ACLAuthorizationPolicy.

However, in some cases, it's useful to be able to use a different authorization policy than the default ACLAuthorizationPolicy. For example, it might be desirable to construct an alternate authorization policy which allows the application to use an authorization mechanism that does not involve ACL objects.

Pyramid ships with only a single default authorization policy, so you'll need to create your own if you'd like to use a different one. Creating and using your own authorization policy is a matter of creating an instance of an object that implements the following interface:

 1class IAuthorizationPolicy(Interface):
 2    """ An object representing a Pyramid authorization policy. """
 3    def permits(context, principals, permission):
 4        """ Return an instance of :class:`` if any
 5        of the ``principals`` is allowed the ``permission`` in the current
 6        ``context``, else return an instance of
 7        :class:``.
 8        """
10    def principals_allowed_by_permission(context, permission):
11        """ Return a set of principal identifiers allowed by the
12        ``permission`` in ``context``.  This behavior is optional; if you
13        choose to not implement it you should define this method as
14        something which raises a ``NotImplementedError``.  This method
15        will only be called when the
16        ```` API is
17        used."""

After you do so, you can pass an instance of such a class into the set_authorization_policy method at configuration time to use it.

Admonishment Against Secret-Sharing

A "secret" is required by various components of Pyramid. For example, the authentication policy below uses a secret value seekrit:

authn_policy = AuthTktAuthenticationPolicy('seekrit', hashalg='sha512')

A session factory also requires a secret:

my_session_factory = SignedCookieSessionFactory('itsaseekreet')

It is tempting to use the same secret for multiple Pyramid subsystems. For example, you might be tempted to use the value seekrit as the secret for both the authentication policy and the session factory defined above. This is a bad idea, because in both cases, these secrets are used to sign the payload of the data.

If you use the same secret for two different parts of your application for signing purposes, it may allow an attacker to get his chosen plaintext signed, which would allow the attacker to control the content of the payload. Re-using a secret across two different subsystems might drop the security of signing to zero. Keys should not be re-used across different contexts where an attacker has the possibility of providing a chosen plaintext.

Preventing Cross-Site Request Forgery Attacks

Cross-site request forgery attacks are a phenomenon whereby a user who is logged in to your website might inadvertently load a URL because it is linked from, or embedded in, an attacker's website. If the URL is one that may modify or delete data, the consequences can be dire.

You can avoid most of these attacks by issuing a unique token to the browser and then requiring that it be present in all potentially unsafe requests. Pyramid provides facilities to create and check CSRF tokens.

By default Pyramid comes with a session-based CSRF implementation pyramid.csrf.SessionCSRFStoragePolicy. To use it, you must first enable a session factory as described in Using the Default Session Factory or Using Alternate Session Factories. Alternatively, you can use a cookie-based implementation pyramid.csrf.CookieCSRFStoragePolicy which gives some additional flexibility as it does not require a session for each user. You can also define your own implementation of pyramid.interfaces.ICSRFStoragePolicy and register it with the pyramid.config.Configurator.set_csrf_storage_policy() directive.

For example:

from pyramid.config import Configurator

config = Configurator()

Using the csrf.get_csrf_token Method

To get the current CSRF token, use the pyramid.csrf.get_csrf_token method.

from pyramid.csrf import get_csrf_token
token = get_csrf_token(request)

The get_csrf_token() method accepts a single argument: the request. It returns a CSRF token string. If get_csrf_token() or new_csrf_token() was invoked previously for this user, then the existing token will be returned. If no CSRF token previously existed for this user, then a new token will be set into the session and returned. The newly created token will be opaque and randomized.

Using the get_csrf_token global in templates

Templates have a get_csrf_token() method inserted into their globals, which allows you to get the current token without modifying the view code. This method takes no arguments and returns a CSRF token string. You can use the returned token as the value of a hidden field in a form that posts to a method that requires elevated privileges, or supply it as a request header in AJAX requests.

For example, include the CSRF token as a hidden field:

<form method="post" action="/myview">
  <input type="hidden" name="csrf_token" value="${get_csrf_token()}">
  <input type="submit" value="Delete Everything">

Or include it as a header in a jQuery AJAX request:

var csrfToken = "${get_csrf_token()}";
  type: "POST",
  url: "/myview",
  headers: { 'X-CSRF-Token': csrfToken }
}).done(function() {

The handler for the URL that receives the request should then require that the correct CSRF token is supplied.

Using the csrf.new_csrf_token Method

To explicitly create a new CSRF token, use the csrf.new_csrf_token() method. This differs only from csrf.get_csrf_token() inasmuch as it clears any existing CSRF token, creates a new CSRF token, sets the token into the user, and returns the token.

from pyramid.csrf import new_csrf_token
token = new_csrf_token(request)


It is not possible to force a new CSRF token from a template. If you want to regenerate your CSRF token then do it in the view code and return the new token as part of the context.

Checking CSRF Tokens Manually

In request handling code, you can check the presence and validity of a CSRF token with pyramid.csrf.check_csrf_token(). If the token is valid, it will return True, otherwise it will raise HTTPBadRequest. Optionally, you can specify raises=False to have the check return False instead of raising an exception.

By default, it checks for a POST parameter named csrf_token or a header named X-CSRF-Token.

from pyramid.csrf import check_csrf_token

def myview(request):
    # Require CSRF Token

    # ...

Checking CSRF Tokens Automatically

New in version 1.7.

Pyramid supports automatically checking CSRF tokens on requests with an unsafe method as defined by RFC2616. Any other request may be checked manually. This feature can be turned on globally for an application using the pyramid.config.Configurator.set_default_csrf_options() directive. For example:

from pyramid.config import Configurator

config = Configurator()

CSRF checking may be explicitly enabled or disabled on a per-view basis using the require_csrf view option. A value of True or False will override the default set by set_default_csrf_options. For example:

@view_config(route_name='hello', require_csrf=False)
def myview(request):
    # ...

When CSRF checking is active, the token and header used to find the supplied CSRF token will be csrf_token and X-CSRF-Token, respectively, unless otherwise overridden by set_default_csrf_options. The token is checked against the value in request.POST which is the submitted form body. If this value is not present, then the header will be checked.

In addition to token based CSRF checks, if the request is using HTTPS then the automatic CSRF checking will also check the referrer of the request to ensure that it matches one of the trusted origins. By default the only trusted origin is the current host, however additional origins may be configured by setting pyramid.csrf_trusted_origins to a list of domain names (and ports if they are non-standard). If a host in the list of domains starts with a . then that will allow all subdomains as well as the domain without the ..

If CSRF checks fail then a pyramid.exceptions.BadCSRFToken or pyramid.exceptions.BadCSRFOrigin exception will be raised. This exception may be caught and handled by an exception view but, by default, will result in a 400 Bad Request response being sent to the client.

Checking CSRF Tokens with a View Predicate

Deprecated since version 1.7: Use the require_csrf option or read Checking CSRF Tokens Automatically instead to have pyramid.exceptions.BadCSRFToken exceptions raised.

A convenient way to require a valid CSRF token for a particular view is to include check_csrf=True as a view predicate. See pyramid.config.Configurator.add_view().

@view_config(request_method='POST', check_csrf=True, ...)
def myview(request):
    # ...


A mismatch of a CSRF token is treated like any other predicate miss, and the predicate system, when it doesn't find a view, raises HTTPNotFound instead of HTTPBadRequest, so check_csrf=True behavior is different from calling pyramid.csrf.check_csrf_token().