API keys

Default and custom API keys

API keys are the primary entities of EVA ICS authentication and access control checking.

After the installation, the following API keys are created automatically:

  • masterkey the primary (super) key with the unlimited access to any resource. At least one master key always must be present in the controller configuration.

  • default the default key for controller inter-connections. Has an access to all items, no access to system and master functions and has allow=cmd,[device]

  • operator the default user key. Similar to the “default” key, but with allow=lock

Custom API keys can be created either in the controller key configuration in Registry database (static, requires controller restart on changes), with Common methods key management functions or with command-line interface (dynamic, stored either in “db” or in “userdb”). Master keys can be created only in the registry.

The default master key (with id masterkey) can be changed for all installed components in bulk, using eva masterkey CLI command.


Each EVA ICS component has its own key pack, even if all components are running under the same installation. Sharing API keys configurations and/or database is not recommended.

To speed up API responses, all API keys are loaded and cached during the controller startup.

API key properties and ACL

The current ACL can be obtained with “test” API/CLI command. Key properties can be modified with Common methods key management functions or with command-line interface. “Static” keys, defined in the registry, can not be re-configured dynamically.

API key properties:

  • allow the key allow list:

    • cmd access to remote command call functions

    • lock access to lock management functions

    • device (for Universal Controller only) access to device templates functions

  • cdata list of custom data. Can be set to any custom values (up to 16384 characters), appears in serialized ACL as-is. The field is a list. If set from a string, it is automatically split with commas.

  • dynamic read-only value, which shows is the key “dynamic” (True, stored in the db) or “static” (False, defined in the registry).

  • groups comma-separated item groups the key has the access to (despite of item types). MQTT-style wildcards (‘#’, ‘+’) are allowed (e.g. “#” = access to the all items).

  • groups_deny comma-separated item groups the key has forbidden access to (e.g. a wildcard is used in groups but some groups are excluded from ACL). The key still has read-only access if allowed with other ACL properties.

  • groups_ro same as groups but for read-only access.

  • hosts_allow comma-separated list of hosts/networks the key has the access from.

  • hosts_assign comma-separated list of hosts/networks to automatically set the key for any non-authenticated API requests.

  • id the key ID, unique.

  • items, items_ro same as groups, but grants an access to the specified items. Wildcards are not allowed.

  • items_deny same as groups_deny but for individual items.

  • key the key itself (up to 64 characters). Filled with 32 random chars automatically after creation.

  • master key is the master key if set to True

  • pvt, rpvt comma-separated lists for SFA PVT/RPVT ACLs.


Unlike the typical approach, when a user is the primary authentication entity and can have one or multiple API keys, EVA ICS authentication works in the opposite way: API keys are the primary entities and there could be one or more users linked to the each one. Consider, for the users, API keys act as ACL groups.

The approach may look unusual, but there is a strong reason to work this way: all external resources (EVA ICS controller inter-connections, 3rd party apps) should always use API keys only, while user accounts are generally used only for authentication via web-interfaces. Majority of EVA ICS installations have no user accounts at all, while all setups require API keys for control and management.

When such approach is used, there is also no reason to have “service” user accounts for the service functions.

Users can be created with Common methods user management functions or with command-line interface.

API calls can not be performed with user accounts directly, the users must login and obtain API session tokens.

Combined ACLs

As API keys are used as user ACLs, a user can have more than one API key assigned locally or with Active Directory groups.

If more than one key (so more than one ACL) is assigned:

  • item ACLs, cdata and allow/assign hosts/networks are merged as-is, including deny ACLs

  • special ACLs are merged basing on a higher access level (e.g. if one of keys has master access, the combined ACL will have master access as well)

  • to assign multiple API keys to a local user, separate them either with commas (in CLI) or send as list (create_user API function).

  • key id in reports and test API function has the value “comb:KEY_1+KEY_2+…KEY_N”

  • the key gets an additional field combined_from which contains a list of key ids the ACLs are combined from.

Only authenticated users can have combined access. Combined API keys are generated for internal purposes only and there is no way to obtain them for direct API requests (use users’ session tokens instead).