What Is Access Control?

If you have just heard the term access control but you don’t know what it means, it is a security term that is used for referring to a set of strict policies that restrict access to tools, information and physical locations.

Whom will you give access to the data of your company? How are you going to ensure that those who are attempting access have been granted the same? What are the circumstances under which you can deny access to someone who already has access rights?

What Is Access Control

In order to protect your company data effectively, the access control policy of an organization should address all the above mentioned questions.

The concerns of this article will deal with the basics of access control, what it is, why it is important and which companies need access control the most. Scroll down to know more.

Access Control – What is it?

Access control is a process of reassuring that the users are actually who they show themselves to be and that they have proper access to the data of the company.

On the other hand, at a higher level, this is a selective process of restricting data access. It comprises of basically two things – authorization and authentication and both of these aspects mainly focus on improving data security.

Authentication is a method that is leveraged for verifying that a person is actually who he claims himself to be. However, Daniel Crowley, research head of IBM’s X-Force Red notes that authentication isn’t just adequate for protecting company data.

You also need an added layer of authorization that checks whether or not a user should be given access to the company data or make a transaction that he is intending to make.

Without a sufficient level of authorization and authentication, there can’t be top-notch data security. If you take note of every data breach that has occurred till date, you’ll find access controls to be investigated first.

So, any company whose employees have to connect to the internet, every company in other words, needs a certain extent of access control in order to protect the data of the company.

This is even more important for the employees who work remotely and need access to company resources and data from a place outside the company premises.

Access Control – Main components

As already mentioned above, at a higher note, access control is everything about preventing unauthoritative access to any resource of a company. A system of access control, whether logical or physical will always have 5 main components which are as follows.

  • Authentication: This is the method of proving the identity of a person or a computer user. The person may have to validate his identity by providing documents that verify the authenticity of the person or the website with a certificate. The login credentials will also be checked.
  • Authorization: This is the method of assigning or allotting access privileges to vital resources of the company. Human resource staffs are authorized normally to access employee records and this policy is formalized as access control regulations within the computer system.
  • Access: Once authorized and authenticated, the computer or the person can get access to the resource.
  • Manage: When you have to manage the system of access control, you have to keep adding and removing authorization and authentication of systems or users. These systems, when handled properly, will streamline the process of management.
  • Audit: Audit is used as a part and parcel of the system of access control to enforce and use the principle of least privilege. With time, users can easily get access that they don’t need, like when their roles in the company are altered. Audits done on a regular basis will reduce the risk.

Organizations have to determine sufficient and adequate access control for their employees based on the models that they have to adopt. Their decision should be based on the sensitivity and kind of data that they’re processing.

The four key types of access control are DAC (Discretionary Access Control), MAC (Mandatory Access Control), RBAC (Role Based Access Control) and ABAC (Attribute Based Access Control). Role Based Access Control is the most commonly-used model in recent days.

So, if you have to spruce up your company access control system, make sure you choose the right model that fits your company.

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