What is Access Control?
Access control can be described as a security technique that aims to regulate individuals in terms of who or what can view and access various resources in a given environment. The basic principle that stands behind access control is minimizing risks and enhancing security within a particular business or organization. In general, there exist two different types of access control, digital and physical.
Digital (logical) control focuses on limiting connections to various computer files, networks, and personal data. In digital security, access control includes user authentication, authorization, and audit. Moreover, it has to be noted that authentication and access control are usually combined into a single operation, so basically the access is allowed based on a successful attempt of authentication. Authentication methods may include different types of data entry, such as passwords, biometric scans with analysis, electronic keys, social barriers as well as human monitoring and automated systems.
Physical access control on another hand has an objective to limit access to business facilities, buildings, rooms, and other physical areas. Physical restriction may be enforced by various security personnel such as bouncers, border control guards, and others. This type of control can be described as who where and when. It determines who is allowed to enter, at what time period, and at what particular location.
In order to secure a given area within an organization, businesses may use various electronic access control systems that function through the use of employee credentials, access card readers, and data reports that track employee access towards restricted premises and proprietary areas such as high-security areas. Physical limiting techniques can also be used in order to carry out access control, such as locks, fences, security personnel, and other features.
How does Access Control work?
Access control works by identifying individuals through the use of login details, these may include user names, biometric data, security cards, passwords, documents, and more. Some systems may also include two or multi-step authentication processes. Such methods normally require multiple steps, these can include combinations of passwords and biometric scans or other possible combos.
After the person or entity has been identified, the verification process starts, where the system or security enforcer verifies that the person or application is who or what it claims to be. After the user or entity has been verified, the authorizing process starts and the user or application gains a set of actions and access levels associated with a given username, IP address, or identity.
Access Control Methods
In general, we can outline four main types of access control. Businesses usually select the method that fits their individual security and compliance requirements. These methods are:
Discretionary access control (DAC)
This technique typically involves the owner or administrator of the given protected system, data set, or resource. The controller sets the requirements and policies of who is allowed to access and who is denied.
Role-based access control (RBAC)
RBAC system determines who is allowed to access a given area based on business functions rather than on individuals’ identity. The objective of this method is to provide users with access to the necessary data that they require based on their role within the organization. This system is popular among various large enterprises, as it is based on a complex combination of authorization protocols, permissions, and assignments.
Mandatory access control (MAC)
The next method can be described as a non-discretionary model. In this kind of system, users gain access based on their information clearance. The central authority (a system or individual) regulates access actions based on various security levels. This method is frequently used by governmental or military organizations.
Attribute-based access control (ABAC)
ABAC can be described as a dynamic method that is based on a set of preselected attributes and so-called environmental conditions (such as day, time, location, etc.)
How access control used in business
The main objective of the access control is to focus on minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to physical and digital systems of the organization. Access control can be called a fundamental component of security technologies, as it is made in order to protect the confidential information of the business such as customer data, internal documentation, and customer privacy.
The majority of businesses have strict procedures that limit access to networks, systems, intellectual property, files, and applications that host valuable data as the breach of access towards this data can compromise the company and its business activities. Access Control systems can be described as complex and challenging to manage and maintain. Since technology moved on, there has been a drastic shift from the single sign-in systems to unified access control management platforms that offer access control features on-premises and in cloud environments.