Salesforce Security Tip: Easily Determine User Record Access

If you have to support a Salesforce org, you will undoubtedly be faced with this question eventually. Why can’t a Salesforce user delete a certain record?

Most people will understandably think of permissions. These are not the only things to consider. There is also Record Sharing. If you want to learn more about that, I suggest you check out this post about Record Sharing.

Salesforce security is multi-layered and rarely enforced by only one of those levels. They work together to restrict and then open up access. You might want to check out the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Skill Path on Pluralsight that covers all the layers.

Salesforce Internal Sharing Model

Now, back to how to determine user record access. A simple SOQL query can tell you the answer. You can run this query in VS Code’s SOQL Builder or the Query Editor in Developer Console.

SELECT RecordId, HasEditAccess, HasDeleteAccess FROM UserRecordAccess
WHERE UserId = [18 digit User ID]
AND RecordId = [Record ID user trying to delete]

This query will tell you right away whether a user can edit and/or delete a certain record. NOTE: Edit and Delete access are not the same thing. As far as how to get the Id’s and run the query, use the following three steps.

Step 1: Get the UserId

To get the UserID, just go to Setup and Users. Click on the User record you are interested in. Select a portion of the ID that happens right after the address=%2F portion of the URL. It should start with 005. This is the UserID you can use in the query.

How to get UserId in Salesforce

Step 2: Get the RecordId

The next thing you need is the RecordId, which in this case is for a Contact record. We can do that by accessing the Contact record in Salesforce and then selecting the portion of the ID in the URL that starts with 003. Go here to learn more about locating ID’s in the URL for Salesforce.

Step 3: Run the Query

You can access Developer Console by clicking the Gear icon in Salesforce and clicking Developer Console. This brings up a new window. From the Query tab, you can type in your query using the ID’s gathered in the first two steps. Click Execute to run the query.

This is what the final query will look like, which returns false for both edit and delete access.

SELECT RecordId, HasEditAccess, HasDeleteAccess FROM UserRecordAccess
WHERE UserId = '005d0000002rqaS'
AND RecordId = '003d000002ScEwPAAV'

Since this user is not the record owner, by default Salesforce does not allow other users to access the record.

Hope this Tip helps you. If you like this and want to learn more about Record Access in particular, check out this course about Record Sharing.

Take care…

Salesforce Security – Build a Record Sharing Model – Post 3

This post extends on Prepare for the Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Exam – Understand the Salesforce Sharing Model – Post 2, in which I introduced you to the Salesforce Record Sharing model for internal users. In this post, I will walk you through what to do to create a record sharing model in your own Salesforce org.

In this series, I will be sharing highlights from courses that are part of the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Skill Path on Pluralsight. The skill path is designed to help anyone trying to pursue the Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Designer certification.

Setting Org-wide Defaults

Org-wide defaults (OWD) provide a default level of access for records owned by users. More importantly, they can be used to limit data access for each standard or custom object. You can set different levels for internal versus external users.

Default levels:

  • Private is the most restrictive and means that only the record owner and users above them in the role hierarchy can view or edit records.
  • Public read only allows all users to view records, but not edit them.
  • Public read/write is the least restrictive level and means full access for all users.
  • Public read/write/transfer is used only for case and lead records, since these types of records can be transferred to another owner.

For each object there is a “Controlled by parent” checkbox. As you might guess, this affects objects that are children. They will inherit the access level of the parent.

Every time that user attempts to access a record from a particular object, Salesforce will first check the OWD. If it is set as private or read/only, the system will look at the object’s sharing table and join the group membership table based on the ID of the user trying to access the record.

Depending on what is found, the least restrictive access will be granted. The access grant, or sharing row cause will be stored as a record in the sharing tables that I told you about in the last post. This is the record access calculation process.

Designing a Role Hierarchy

Role hierarchies provide data access for a group of users. It allows managers access to records owned by their employees. Essentially, record access is opened up vertically to users higher up in the hierarchy. By default, peers or other members assigned to the role will not have access to these records.

…role hierarchy should NOT be a duplicate of your company org chart.

The role hierarchy is just one tool included in the Salesforce Sharing Model. The role hierarchy sits right in the middle. This means that baseline access, implicit sharing or org-wide defaults will override access provided by the role hierarchy.

Salesforce Internal Sharing Model
Salesforce Internal Sharing Model

When designing a role hierarchy, the following things should always be kept in mind:

  • Your role hierarchy should NOT be a duplicate of your company org chart.
  • Users should be grouped into access levels. Only users assigned to roles above them will have the same access as the record owner.
  • Roles should only be created for permanent groups of users and not a group that is considered temporary because changes cause expensive sharing recalculations to take place.
  • Orgs created prior to the Spring 21 release are limited to 500 roles.

Sharing Rules and Manual Sharing

It is important to realize that the entire Salesforce sharing model is model is built around record ownership. When a user creates a new record, they automatically become the record owner. Records can also be assigned to queues.

…the entire Salesforce sharing model is model is built around record ownership

Sharing rules are created for objects, but you only do this if the OWD for that object is set to private or read-only. Otherwise, there is no need to create a sharing rule since everyone has access to that object. They open up object access for a select group of users.

When thinking about selecting a group of users, they can be assigned to a public group, which is not the same things as a queue. A public group consists of one or more users. These users can be individual users, or they can belong to a role or territory. Users that are part of a group cannot own a record, but they can be part of a sharing rule.

Queues on the other hand are generally used to manage ownership of objects such as leads, cases, and even custom objects. The record is owned by the queue and not any of the users assigned to the queue. However, queues are not used in sharing rules. Sharing rules are configured with public groups or roles.

Manual sharing happens when one user wants to share a record with another user. They can do this by clicking a button in the user interface. But keep in mind that manual sharing is only available for Accounts, Contacts, Cases, opportunities, leads and custom objects.

Only certain users can grant this kind of access. This includes, the:

  • Record owner
  • Users above the record owner in the role hierarchy
  • Any user that has been granted full record access
  • Administrators

Manual sharing is primarily used for special exceptions. That is why it sits above sharing rules in that upside down triangle you saw earlier.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series and you may want to checkout the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Skill Path on Pluralsight.

Prepare for the Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Exam – Understand the Salesforce Sharing Model – Post 2

Welcome back to the second post for this series. In this post you will be introduced to the Salesforce Record Sharing Model for internal users. This will involve sharing Salesforce data across users, groups and roles.

In this series, I will be sharing highlights from courses that are part of the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Skill Path on Pluralsight. The skill path is designed to help anyone trying to pursue the Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Designer certification.

Diagnosing User Access Issues

Most Salesforce Administrators will eventually be asked why some user cannot access certain data. In situations such as these, it is helpful to refer to a diagram such as the one below.

Salesforce Sharing Model for Internal Users
Salesforce Sharing Model for Internal Users

The Salesforce sharing model can be imagined as an upside down triangle. Tools at the top of the triangle provide the widest level of access to the greatest number of users. Tools located at the bottom can be used more precisely to grant certain kinds of access to the least number of users.

When trying to figure out user access problems, you would start at the bottom. In other words, baseline access should be the first thing you look at, followed by implicit sharing and so on. Keep going up the triangle until you determine what the problem is.

Sharing ToolDescription
Baseline AccessInvolves a combination of a profile permissions along with permission sets.
Implicit SharingSalesforce’s built-in sharing behavior between account and child records (contacts, cases and opportunities)
Org-wide Defaults (OWD’s) Determines an objects’ default access level and is the only way to limit record level access.
Role HierarchyExpands data access vertically. Allows managers to access records owned by the users they manage.
Sharing RulesDefine criteria for sharing access with specific users or users in public groups/roles
Manual SharingTypically used for special circumstances, users can intentionally grant record access to a user that would not normally have access.
Team AccessUsed to grant access to teams, which are groups of users that work together on objects like accounts, opportunities or cases.
Territory Hierarchy AccessUsed to manage and grant account access to users assigned to sales territories.
Salesforce Record Sharing Tools

I am not going to lie to you, the Salesforce record sharing model is complex. But don’t be overwhelmed because throughout this series, I will be introducing you to all of these tools.

Working with Access Grants

Access grants are what Salesforce uses to determine who sees what data. The process of determining this all starts with an object sharing table. Object Sharing tables are completely separate from the object table itself where all the Salesforce data lives, such as the information about an account lives.

Sharing tables will store information about the grant (or sharing type) such as whether it is explicit or implicit. Implicit grants happen when there are children records associated with a parent.

For instance, accounts and contacts are designed with this kind of relationship. Contacts are considered children of a parent account and understandably users that can access a contact can also access the account.

Implicit grants will override explicit grants, which happen when a record is shared with manual sharing or sharing rules. So it is important to always keep implicit grants, or implicit sharing in the back of your mind. If you ever have a situation where you cannot figure out why a user is accessing a record, consider implicit sharing.

If you ever have a situation where a user is accessing a record you think they should not have access to, consider implicit sharing.

Object sharing tables are created automatically and follow a very specific naming pattern. For example, when the object record table is named Account, the sharing table will be named AccountShare. And the thing that ties these two tables together is the owner of the record. When dealing with a custom object such as one named myCustomObject, the sharing table will have the object name followed by two underscores and the word Share.

Determining what values go into a sharing table occurs when record access is calculated. This is a separate process from when a user attempts to access the actual record in the user interface or with an API. This process only happens during a configuration change, such as creating a new custom object. And you should know that It is a very complicated resource intensive process known as sharing recalculation.

Things are done this way in order to improve record access performance. If all this checking was done in real time, the system would not perform well at all and users would be very unhappy.

Record access calculations can happen when changes are made to:

  • Group membership
  • Role hierarchies
  • Territory hierarchies
  • Kicked off manually by an Administrator

It is important to realize that record access calculations can act like a ripple effect in a Salesforce org. For this reason, large orgs should be especially careful when kicking this off or making any changes that might trigger it. The process could negatively impact the orgs performance.

Since this is such a HUGE topic, I will not be covering everything in this one post. Stay tuned for the next post where I will be covering more.

Prepare for the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility exam – Getting Started – Post 1

In this series, I will be sharing highlights from courses that are part of the Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Skill Path on Pluralsight. The skill path is designed to help anyone trying to pursue the Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Designer certification.

The first course in the series, Salesforce Security: Getting Started, will use complex customer scenarios for a global robotics provider named Globomantics. You will learn how to evaluate the use of object, field-level, role and security settings to secure the Salesforce org.

Salesforce Security Levels

From a high level, Salesforce enforces security through multiple layers or levels. At the outermost layer there is Organization access. This is controlled by login tools that allow you to control when and how a user logs in.

High-level overview of the different Salesforce security layers
High-level overview of the different Salesforce security layers

Once logged in, access to objects and fields is controlled through a combination of profiles and permission sets. Profiles must be assigned to each user and permission sets are assigned to specific users.

Record level sharing sits between the object and field level. Once a user is granted access to an object, then specific data records can be shared with them. But access can be restricted on a field level basis, providing even more granular access.

At the record level, access is controlled through data sharing. For each object, this access can be restricted through Org-wide defaults (OWD’s), which apply to all users. Roles and sharing can then be used to open this access back up to certain users.

Controlling Access to a Salesforce Organization

Controlling access to a Salesforce organization (or org) is the first line of defense. Authentication is the process of verifying that a user is who they say they are.

Salesforce authentication covers a broad spectrum of available tools where tools on the left are the least complex, such as passwords associated with a username, and tools on the right are the most complex and offer tighter security.

Salesforce login tools on the left-side are the least complex
Salesforce login tools on the left-side are the least complex

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), which you may know as 2-factor authentication involves verifying a user’s identity with two or more pieces of info. Starting in 2022, Salesforce will require customers to use MFA for internal users.

Network-based security deals with limiting where and when a user can login to Salesforce. Device activation (or identity confirmation) involves tracking information about the device used to verify a user’s identity.

Every computer or device that is connected to a public network is assigned a unique IP (Internet Protocol) address, such as When a user logs in to Salesforce for the first time they are sent an activation email that is associated with that address.

When the Salesforce user clicks a link in that email using the same device they logged in with they will be directed back to Salesforce and the device used will be activated and considered secure. Salesforce Admins can allow users logging in from an internal network access without having to activate a device by setting a trusted IP range. This is done at the org-level and applies to all internal users.

Besides setting a trusted IP range, Administrators can restrict a user’s login IP range, along with specific login hours through permissions assigned to user’s at the profile level. By setting a login IP range, all user’s assigned to that profile, will not be able to login from an IP address outside of that range.

So remember, adding a Trusted IP ranges at the org level will only remove computer activation requirements for users logging in from a device within that range. Login IP ranges, which are applied at the profile level will instead prevent a user from logging in from a device outside the range.

Controlling Access to Object and Fields

Salesforce launched their CRM product back in 2000 and at that time the only way to grant user permissions to objects and fields was through the profile, which had a one to one relationship with the user object. As the platform grew, along with the number of permissions, things got much harder to manage.

Salesforce eventually introduced permission sets as a way to alleviate the pain points that were associated with profiles. Permission sets can be assigned to more than one user and for a while they were easier to manage.

Over time, as some orgs got bigger and had to manage lots of permission sets, even these became hard to keep up with. And so, Salesforce introduced the concept of permission set groups.

As a best practice, Administrators should use permissions or permission set groups to grant permissions and not the profile. In a nutshell, profiles should be used to restrict access and permission sets or groups should be used to grant access to specific users.

As a best practice, Administrators should use permissions or permission set groups to grant permissions and not the profile.

When thinking about granting permissions to a user, a best practice involves the principle of least privilege. This means that users should only be given the minimum permissions necessary to do their job. By keeping this in mind when approaching permissions you can be ensured that users are able to do their jobs, while also protecting the integrity of the entire org.

Access to objects are granted through CRUD permissions. CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update and Delete. Salesforce allows you to assign two other permissions to objects (View All and Modify All) that you might like to think of as super power permissions. For this reason, these permissions should be given sparingly and typically only to Administrators.

Fields access is handled with Field-level security or FLS, as it is better known. Where objects can be granted CRUD permissions, fields can only be granted read or edit access. Fields also do not have access to the super power permissions of “view all” or “modify all”.

It is important to realize that object-level access overrides FLS. For example, you cannot remove read permission for an object and then enable it for all that object’s fields. If the user does not have read access to an object, then the user can not see any of the object’s fields.

Controlling Access to Salesforce Records

Access to Salesforce records resolves around the concept of record ownership. Each record or row of data as you might like to think of it can be owned by an individual user or a group of users assigned to a queue.

Org-wide defaults (OWD’s) are the only way you have of limiting record access. All the other tools open up access to users through sharing tools or the role hierarchy.

OWD’s set the default level of access users have to each others records. Each object will be assigned a level (private, public read only or public read/write) and these can be different for internal versus external users. Public read/write transfer is a special level that is only available to lead and case objects since those are the only kinds of records that allow for a transfer.

The role hierarchy opens up access to data records vertically. Access moves from the top of the hierarchy down to the bottom. This allows managers to have access to the records of employees they manage. But peers on the same level, do not have access to each others records.

The role hierarchy opens up access to data records vertically.

Besides the role hierarchy, there are other sharing tools that open up access restricted by OWD’s. Record sharing is a huge topic and for that reason it was given an entire course for this series. I only mention it briefly here so you know where it fits with other Salesforce security access levels.

For more detail about sharing records, you will need to check out my upcoming post about the next course in this series, Share Salesforce Data Across Users, Groups and Roles. Hope you stay with me.

Do this Salesforce Security Scan NOW!!!

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 11.39.10 AMPrior to about a week ago, if you went to this page and requested a Security Source Code Scan, you would have most likely gotten an error telling you that it could not be done and that you would need to submit a case.

Luckily, Salesforce has resolved this issue and you can now simply go to the link above, enter your credentials and you will be able to scan your org for security and quality rules. The scan will take a while to run (as in several hours or even days perhaps), but I promise it is worth the wait.

What you will get back is a very thorough report that scans your entire codebase for not only security issues (of which I am sure you will be amazed by how many critical violations it will find) but it will also evaluate whether you are utilizing best practices in your code to ensure good quality.

For example, it will scan your code to tell you where you have code that does the following:

  • Queries With No Where Or Limit Clause
  • Multiple Trigger On same sObject
  • Hardcoded Ids
  • DML Statements Inside Loops
  • SOSL SOQL Statements Inside Loops
  • Async Future Method Inside Loops
  • Test Methods With No Assert
  • Need to Bulkify Apex Methods Using Collections In Methods

I think everyone should take the time to have their orgs scanned and review the results. I suspect that even the most diligent of development shops will find some issue that needs to be addressed.

Happy Scanning.

Can’t Miss Salesforce Security Webinar Series

vulnerabilities_checklistI know security is probably not your favorite subject. But these days, it seems like everyday there is another major story coming out about how some big company has a major security breach. A lot of companies use Salesforce because it is secure and trust is so important. But as a developer, you have to realize that there are MANY ways you can bypass all the terrific security features Salesforce has put in place.

Developers have lots of flexibility that gives them power, but with power comes responsibility. It is so important you are aware of all the ways you may inadvertently make your app vulnerable to attack. Unfortunately, most of the documentation on this subject is loooooonnnnnggg and how shall I say this….BORING!

Well, for all you visual learners that really love practical examples, your help has arrived. The Salesforce security team has begun a series of Webinars designed to get developers up to speed with some practical, code-based demonstrations that show:

  1. How we as developers can inadvertently bypass security
  2. What you can do to correct the mistake and make your app secure again

So far there are only 2 webinars in the series, but just watching these two will probably teach you more than you get by trying to pour through and interpret all that other boring documentation.

Hope you find these as helpful and enlightening as I did. And thanks to the Security team for taking the time to put the sample app together along with these webinars.