Oracle defines the possible verbs you can use in your policies. Here's a summary of the verbs, from least amount of access to the most:

Verb Types of Access Covered Target User
inspect Ability to list resources, without access to any confidential information or user-specified metadata that may be part of that resource. Important: The operation to list policies includes the contents of the policies themselves, and the list operations for the Networking resource-types return all the information (e.g., the contents of security lists and route tables). Third-party auditors
read Includes inspect plus the ability to get user-specified metadata and the actual resource itself. Internal auditors
use Includes read plus the ability to work with existing resources (the actions vary by resource type). Includes the ability to update the resource, except for resource-types where the "update" operation has the same effective impact as the "create" operation (e.g., UpdatePolicy, UpdateSecurityList, etc.), in which case the "update" ability is available only with the manage verb. In general, this verb does not include the ability to create or delete that type of resource. Day-to-day end users of resources
manage Includes all permissions for the resource. Administrators

The verb gives a certain general type of access (e.g., inspect lets you list and get resources). When you then join that type of access with a particular resource-type in a policy (e.g., Allow group XYZ to inspect compartments in the tenancy), then you give that group access to a specific set of permissions and API operations (e.g., ListCompartments, GetCompartment). For more examples, see Details for Verbs + Resource-Type Combinations. The Policy Reference includes a similar table for each service, giving you a list of exactly which API operations are covered for each combination of verb and resource-type.

There are some special exceptions or nuances for certain resource-types.

Users: Access to both manage users and manage groups lets you do anything with users and groups, including creating and deleting users and groups, and adding/removing users from groups. To add/remove users from groups without access to creating and deleting users and groups, only both use users and use groups are required. See Common Policies.

Policies: The ability to update a policy is available only with manage policies, not use policies, because updating a policy is similar in effect to creating a new policy (you can overwrite the existing policy statements). In addition, inspect policies lets you get the full contents of the policies.

Object Storage objects: inspect objects lets you list all the objects in a bucket and do a HEAD operation for a particular object. In comparison, read objects lets you download the object itself.

Load Balancer resources: Be aware that inspect load-balancers lets you get all information about your load balancers and related components (backend sets, etc.).

Networking resources:

Be aware that the inspect verb not only returns general information about the cloud network's components (for example, the name and OCID of a security list, or of a route table). It also includes the contents of the component (for example, the actual rules in the security list, the routes in the route table, and so on).

Also, the following types of abilities are available only with the manage verb, not the use verb:

  • Update (enable/disable) internet-gateways
  • Update security-lists
  • Update route-tables
  • Update dhcp-options
  • Attach a dynamic routing gateway (DRG) to a virtual cloud network (VCN)
  • Create an IPSec connection between a DRG and customer-premises equipment (CPE)
  • Peer VCNs

Each VCN has various components that directly affect the behavior of the network (route tables, security lists, DHCP options, Internet Gateway, and so on). When you create one of these components, you establish a relationship between that component and the VCN, which means you must be allowed in a policy to both create the component and manage the VCN itself. However, the ability to update that component (to change the route rules, security list rules, and so on) does NOT require permission to manage the VCN itself, even though changing that component can directly affect the behavior of the network. This discrepancy is designed to give you flexibility in granting least privilege to users, and not require you to grant excessive access to the VCN just so the user can manage other components of the network. Be aware that by giving someone the ability to update a particular type of component, you're implicitly trusting them with controlling the network's behavior.