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Restricting Access to Content by User in Tableau

April 12, 2018

Tableau

Four Methods to Secure & Filter Data By User

Good news: Tableau provides ways to restrict, or filter, what data appears in visualizations based on the audience. Bad news: the mechanisms in Tableau for restricting access to sensitive content are not obvious. And to make it more challenging, Tableau’s default is to make all the data in a report visible to everyone looking at it!

In this webinar recording learn the different ways for restricting access to content with Tableau. See step-by-step demos on how to control who sees what in your visualizations. The four methods covered are

  1. Using Tableau Server Groups and a workbook filter (requires Tableau Server or Tableau Online)
  2. Using Tableau’s built-in user filters (requires Tableau Server or Tableau Online)
  3. Joining to a security table
  4. Using database security to restrict access

In this whitepaper, we provide step-by-step instructions for each of the four methods.

You may also be interested in these free Tableau resources

TECHNOLOGIES COVERED

Tableau

PRESENTER

Monica Van Loon
Analytics Consultant
Senturus, Inc.

PRESENTATION OUTLINE
  • Overview – Types of Security in Tableau
  • Four Methods to Implement Data Security in Tableau
    • Tableau’s Built-in User Filters
    • Tableau Server Groups and a Workbook filter
    • Join to a Security Table
    • Use Database Security
  • Method 1: Tableau’s Built-in User Filters
    • Navigate to the worksheet to which you want to apply a filter
    • Server > Create User Filter
    • Select the field you want to use for filtering (i.e. Region)
    • In the User Filter dialog box, type a name for the set of rules you are creating
    • (i.e. Regional Managers)
    • In the list on the left, select User/Group
    • On the right, under Members for:select what you want the selected users to see
    • Do this for each Tableau Server/ Tableau Online user
  • Method 1: Pros
    • Easy to implement, user-friendly
    • Build in feature of Tableau Server
    • No Tableau Server or DBA assistance required
  • Method 1: Cons
    • Must be done for each worksheet or workbook: new worksheets may show unfiltered data
    • High maintenance: if user base changes, you need to update the filter and republish
    • Security can be tenuous: if users can download and edit workbook they can see ALL of the data
    • Requires Tableau Server or Tableau Online
  • Method 2: Tableau Server with a Worksheet Filter
    • Create groups on Tableau server (i.e. ‘Central’, ‘East’ etc..)
    • Connect to your data source
    • Create a calculated field
    • Publish the workbook to Tableau Server
    • Note: when publishing to Tableau Server, ensure web-editing and download is set to “no”
  • Method 2a: Tableau Server Groups with a Data Source Filter
    • Create groups on Tableau server (i.e. ‘Central’, ‘East’ etc..)
    • Connect to your data source
    • Create your calculated field
    • In the Data Source tab - add a data source filter using the calculated field and select ‘true’
    • Publish the data source - publishers can connect to the published data source and create dashboards with built-in security
    • Note: with a data source filter you can allow “web edit"
  • Method 2 and 2a: Pros
    • Once Tableau Server groups are set up they can be used for multiple workbooks
    • Built-in feature of Tableau Server
    • No DBA assistance required
  • Method 2 and 2a: Cons
    • Must be implemented for each worksheet, workbook or data source
    • Medium maintenance: groups must be maintained in Tableau Server as users are added deleted and move
    • Security can be tenuous: if users can download and edit workbook they can potentially see ALL of the data
    • New worksheets may show unfiltered data
    • Requires Tableau Server or Tableau Online
  • Method 3: Join to a Security Table
    • Create a security table
    • Join data source to security table
    • Create a calculated field
    • Note: the security table needs to have a one to one mapping with data table or you may get duplicate rows
  • Option: Create a Published Data Source
  • Advantages of a Published Data Source
    • Shared business-friendly semantic layer
    • Reusable
    • Single source of the “truth”
    • Secure with data source filter
    • Note: you need a 1 to 1 mapping to security table to avoid row duplication
  • Option: Use Subscriptions
    • Tableau Server Subscriptions are a great way to distribute content
    • Each subscribed user gets a user specific view with a thumbnail
  • Method 4: Use Database Security
    • Example: Security embedded in a database view:
    • Create or replace view My_Employee_Details as select e.employee_id, e.first_name, e.last_name, e.salary, m.Last_name manager_name from HR.employees e, HR.employees m where e.manager_id = m.employee_id and upper(m.LAST_NAME) = user;
    • Notes: this is one example there are many ways to accomplish this; the syntax is often database specific, for example: ‘user’ is Oracle specific; in Sql Server it would be current_user or session_user or current_user
  • Method 4: Pros
    • Security implemented in the database level can be shared by other reporting tools
    • Security information can be extracted from other sources (i.e. HR systems like Workday and built into a database view or materialized view)
    • Very flexible and hierarchies can be implemented (i.e. VP – Regional Manager – Department Manger …)
  • Method 4: Cons
    • Must be set-up prior to publishing workbook
    • DBA assistance required
    • Medium maintenance: DBA need to maintain database ID’s that map to security
  • Secure Your Data - Functionality Matrix
  • Good – Tableau Server with user filters
  • Better – Tableau Server groups or a database security table
  • Best – A fully integrated, automated and shared data security model
  • Key Takeaways
    • Multiple ways to secure and restrict data shown in Tableau
    • Requirements, restrictions and maintenance vary by method
    • Many combinations and variations for each method
    • Contact Senturus if you need help

OPEN