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Ansible troubleshooting - Error 208: risky-file-permissions

How to Solve the Ansible Error 208 risky-file-permissions Ensuring Secure File Permissions in Your Playbooks

October 31, 2023
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Ansible, the robust automation tool, empowers users to manage configurations, deploy software, and automate a wide range of tasks with ease. However, ensuring the security and predictability of file permissions when creating or manipulating files is crucial to maintaining a stable and safe environment. In this article, we’ll explore Ansible Error 208, “risky-file-permissions,” which focuses on the risks associated with modules that can create or modify files with potentially insecure or unpredictable permissions. We’ll discuss how to use these modules safely and mitigate potential security issues in your Ansible playbooks.

The Problem: Risky File Permissions

Ansible Error 208, “risky-file-permissions,” serves as a reminder of the potential security risks posed by modules that can create or modify files with overly open or unpredictable permissions. This rule is triggered by various modules, such as ansible.builtin.copy, ansible.builtin.file, community.general.archive, and others. If the proper arguments are not used with these modules, it can result in files on disk having insecure permissions.

Problematic Code Example:

- name: Example error 208
  hosts: all
    - name: Unsafe example of using ini_file
        path: foo
        create: true

In the problematic code above, the ini_file module is used with the create argument set to true, potentially creating a file with insecure permissions, depending on the system settings.


WARNING  Listing 2 violation(s) that are fatal
args[module]: missing required arguments: section (warning)
208.yml:5 Task/Handler: Unsafe example of using ini_file

risky-file-permissions: File permissions unset or incorrect.
208.yml:5 Task/Handler: Unsafe example of using ini_file

Read documentation for instructions on how to ignore specific rule violations.

                       Rule Violation Summary                        
 count tag                    profile rule associated tags           
     1 risky-file-permissions safety  unpredictability               
     1 args[module]                   syntax, experimental (warning) 

Failed: 1 failure(s), 1 warning(s) on 1 files. Last profile that met the validation criteria was 'moderate'. Rating: 2/5 star

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Correcting Risky File Permissions

To address Ansible Error 208 and ensure secure file permissions, it’s crucial to use the affected modules with the appropriate arguments. Here are several solutions to consider:

  1. Prevent File Creation:
- name: Safe example of using ini_file (1st solution)
    path: foo
    create: false  # Prevents file creation and associated permission issues
  1. Explicitly Set Permissions:
- name: Safe example of using ini_file (2nd solution)
    path: foo
    mode: 0600  # Explicitly sets the desired permissions, ensuring predictability
  1. Preserve Source File Permissions with ‘ansible.builtin.copy’:
- name: Safe example of using copy (3rd solution)
    src: foo
    dest: bar
    mode: preserve   # Use 'mode: preserve' to set the same permissions as the source file

These solutions ensure that file permissions are controlled and secure, reducing the potential risks associated with insecure or unpredictable permissions.

Benefits of Ensuring Secure File Permissions

  1. Enhanced Security: Secure file permissions protect your system from unauthorized access and data breaches.
  2. Predictability: Secure permissions provide predictability, ensuring that the behavior of your playbooks remains consistent across different systems.
  3. Mitigation of Security Risks: Correctly configuring modules reduces the risk of exposing sensitive data or allowing unauthorized changes.
  4. Adherence to Best Practices: Adhering to best practices for file permissions aligns with Ansible guidelines, contributing to a more secure and reliable automation environment.


Ansible Error 208, “risky-file-permissions,” highlights the importance of ensuring secure and predictable file permissions in your Ansible playbooks. By using modules with the correct arguments and configurations, you can mitigate potential security risks and maintain the reliability of your automation tasks.

In the realm of automation, security is paramount. Therefore, when working with Ansible, it’s essential to consider the implications of file permissions and follow best practices to ensure the safety and predictability of your automated processes.

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