Visualizing RLS Policy Checks in PostgreSQL Query Plans: Optimizing Performance and Data Security

Unveiling RLS Policy Checks in PostgreSQL Query Plans: Enhancing Performance and Data Protection

To visualize RLS policy checks in the query plan of PostgreSQL, you can follow these steps:

  • Enable row_security: To enable RLS policy checks in the query plan, the row_security configuration parameter needs to be enabled. This can be done by modifying the PostgreSQL server configuration file (postgresql.conf) or by using dynamic SQL commands.
  • Modify postgresql.conf file: Open the postgresql.conf file using a text editor and set the row_security parameter to on. Save the file and restart the PostgreSQL server for the changes to take effect.
  • Use dynamic SQL commands: Connect to your PostgreSQL database using a client tool or command-line interface and execute the following SQL command:

ALTER SYSTEM SET row_security = on;

Restart the PostgreSQL server: After enabling the row_security parameter, restart the PostgreSQL server to apply the configuration change.

Execute the query: Execute the query for which you want to visualize the RLS policy checks.

Generate the query plan: Use the EXPLAIN command to generate the query plan, specifying the desired level of detail and analysis. For example:


Examine the query plan: Review the output of the EXPLAIN command and look for nodes or lines that indicate RLS policy checks. These nodes will provide information about the presence and evaluation of RLS policies during query execution.

Look for nodes such as Foreign Scan (rls-row-security) or Seq Scan (rls-row-security) that indicate the presence of RLS policy checks.

Check the Filter conditions to see if they involve RLS policy checks, which indicate the enforcement of RLS policies during query execution.

Analyze performance impact: Evaluate the performance impact of RLS policy checks in the query plan. Consider the additional overhead introduced by RLS and assess whether query optimization or policy modifications are necessary.

Identify any potential bottlenecks or areas where RLS policy checks may significantly impact query performance.

Review indexes, query structure, and RLS policies to optimize performance and minimize the impact of RLS checks.

By visualizing RLS policy checks in the query plan, you can gain insights into how RLS policies are being applied during query execution and evaluate their impact on performance. This information can help in optimizing queries, tuning RLS policies, and ensuring efficient execution while maintaining data security.

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About Shiv Iyer 456 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.