5 Types Of Access Control: And How They Can Strengthen Cybersecurity

Gowsika

Gowsika

Feb 07, 2024

5 Types Of Access Control: And How They Can Strengthen Cybersecurity

In 2023 data breaches cost organizations an average of $4.45 million, highlighting the critical need for implementing robust cybersecurity measures within the organizations. Access control is a pivotal cyber security measure that plays a crucial role in preventing such breaches. There are different types of access control, and their effective management is integral to safeguarding sensitive information, serving as a cornerstone for a comprehensive cyber security strategy, and fortifying overall defense against evolving cyber threats.

This blog will elaborate on the different types of access control and their importance in maintaining cybersecurity.

What is access control in cybersecurity?

Access control is a crucial cyber security practice that authenticates and authorizes users before giving them access to specific data assets, resources, and systems.

Access control consists of policies determining permissions and defining access levels for authenticated users. A few data security measures under access control include the implementation of PINs, passwords, security tokens, and multi-factor authentication, ensuring that access is granted based on verified identities. 

Components of Access Control

To secure sensitive data, understanding the components of access control is important. Below we have talked about the foundational elements of access control that collectively strengthen organizations defense and ensure integrity of its resources.

Identification:

Identification is the first step in determining a user’s identity. Users are uniquely identified through methods such as user IDs and badges. User IDs serve as unique identifiers tied to individual accounts, while badges provide physical identification, often including a photo, name, and organization for quick visual verification.

Authentication:

Authentication ensures a user meets the qualification criteria to access resources. After identification, users must authenticate themselves, proving they are who they claim to be. This is commonly achieved through passwords and biometrics. Passwords, meeting strong security criteria, are complemented by biometric methods like fingerprints and facial recognition for enhanced security.

Authorization:

Authorization is the mechanism controlling who has access to what based on roles. Discretionary authorizations, granted by owners or administrators, and mandatory authorizations, provided to people with common needs, govern access. Two common authorization methods are access control lists (ACLs), specifying resource access for individual users, and role-based access control (RBAC), streamlining user administration by assigning predefined permissions based on roles within the organization.

Why is access control important in cybersecurity?

Access control is a critical security measure in cyber security that minimizes the risk of exposure to sensitive data. It enhances overall security, providing efficient management of entry points without the need for constant physical monitoring of information and resources. 

Heightened security: Access control is vital for information security, minimizing the risk of data compromise. It integrates authentication and authorization, verifying user identity and setting precise permissions for resource access. This approach covers diverse authentication methods, from usernames and passwords to VPNs and 2FA applications, creating a robust security framework.

Risk mitigation: Access control systems enforce stringent security measures and data protection policies, safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorized access. This ensures that organizations can mitigate the risk of data breaches, cyberattacks, insider threats, or unauthorized handling.

Get A Real-Time View Of Risk

Compliance requirements: Many regulatory standards, such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, and HIPAA, mandate the implementation of access controls. Adhering to these requirements is crucial for organizations to avoid legal consequences, financial penalties, and reputational damage.

Easier management: Cloud-based access control adds more flexibility, enabling secure remote operations and convenient access management. This minimizes employee confusion and discrepancies and helps you monitor and manage systems efficiently.

Drives insights: Access control systems record entry activity and credential types that aid in incident identification and creating document controls. Access control is crucial, providing modern organizations with a data-driven security and resource management approach.

Types of access control

The efficacy of safeguarding critical assets rests on the diverse strategies employed in access control. Understanding the nuances of access control types is instrumental in constructing resilient defenses against evolving threats.

Here are the five common types of access control:

1. Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

MAC is the most restrictive, placing the power to permit access solely in the hands of system administrators. Users cannot modify permissions, creating a robust security layer suitable for safeguarding sensitive information. MAC is commonly employed in government entities due to its commitment to confidentiality, ensuring stringent protection against unauthorized access.

2. Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Unlike MAC, DAC provides more control to leadership, allowing them to determine resource access based on user credentials. While it offers flexibility, DAC demands active oversight for managing permissions effectively. This system requires a more hands-on approach, making it suitable for scenarios where dynamic access management is a priority.

3. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

RBAC assigns permissions based on users’ business roles within an organization. This simplifies access management by grouping employees according to their responsibilities. Access rights are structured around variables such as job roles, location, and specific needs, preventing lower-level employees from accessing high-level information. RBAC provides a flexible model that enhances visibility while protecting against breaches and data leaks.

4. Rule-Based Access Control

This system grants access permissions based on structured rules and policies, offering context-based controls for resource access. Users attempting to access a resource are subject to rules established in the “access control list” for that specific resource. Rule-based access control is often blended with role-based approaches, providing a comprehensive approach to access management.

5. Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

ABAC is a context-based policy that provides dynamic and risk-intelligent control based on user attributes, allowing for more granular customization and security. User attributes such as role, environment, location, and more influence access rights. This system enhances the level of control by considering multiple attributes, enabling organizations to tailor access based on specific criteria.

Sprinto Advantage: The most effective way to ease your access control security is automating it with a compliance automation tools like Sprinto. The platform comprehensively streamlines your access management, runs risk assessments and identifies potential risks, conducts periodic checks to ensure continuous compliance irrespective of size and complexity, and quickly gets you audit-ready. 

Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

How to implement these access controls?

Evaluate your organization’s requirements and potential vulnerabilities to determine the most suitable access control model. Clearly define access control policies based on the chosen model, specifying who can access the resources under what conditions. Here are a few implementations you need to do for different access controls.

Steps to implement Discretionary Access Control (DAC):

  • Establish a hierarchical structure for files, assigning individual permissions to indicate access levels.
  • Utilize access control lists from reputable security organizations for enhanced permissions.
  • Regularly audit the system to ensure continued effectiveness.

Steps to implement Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC):

  • Initial complexity is offset by improved overall security.
  • Manually assign chosen attributes to every component.
  • Create algorithms or policies to determine attribute actions in specific situations.

Steps to implement Mandatory Access Control (MAC):

  • Set up a mandatory access system.
  • Create a new profile for each employee.
  • Label employees with tags indicating their access levels.

Steps to implement Role-Based Access Control (RBAC):

  • Categorize the workforce into groups with common access needs.
  • Assign users to roles and match grouped roles with individual permission sets. 

Note: Conduct regular audits to ensure the effectiveness of access controls. Update policies and technologies based on emerging threats and changes in organizational structure.

How Sprinto can help

Access controls are gatekeepers of sensitive resources, ensuring security and meeting compliance requirements. However, they cannot be used as a standalone security measure. You will need a compliance automation tool like Sprinto for policy enforcement, workflow management, continuous control monitoring, and more.

A compliance automation software like Sprinto enables smarter workflows and helps you manage access control more effectively. It supports role-based access controls and helps you publish security policies and enforce acknowledgement.

Sprinto provides complete visibility into your security and compliance posture by mapping all the desired security controls and helps you design comprehensive risk and compliance reports in an intuitive health dashboard.

With Sprinto, you can assess all security controls, maintain awareness of all networks, systems, and servers across the organization and the vendor ecosystem, and provide continuous security monitoring, strengthening your cybersecurity posture.

Conclusion

In the ever-changing field of cybersecurity, access control acts as a robust defense against evolving threats. Implementing the right types of access control is not just a practice but a strategic business objective for safeguarding valuable data and ensuring the resilience of your cloud systems.

Sprinto is a comprehensive compliance automation solution that simplifies role-based access and management of permissions (for policy access, viewing, and editing), allowing compliance teams to identify policy gaps during audits and assessments and enables you to be compliant with different frameworks like SOC2, ISO 27001, GDPR, and HIPAA.

FAQs

What Is the difference between authentication and authorization in access control?

Authentication is the process of verifying a user’s identity during login, like entering a password. Authorization follows, determining the user’s permitted actions and access based on their authenticated identity. In essence, authentication confirms identity, while authorization establishes the specific permissions granted to the authenticated user within a system.

How does access control enable regulatory compliance?

Access control helps organizations meet regulatory compliance requirements by ensuring only authorized personnel can access sensitive data. This is essential for adhering to data protection and privacy regulations.

What is the principle of least privilege in access control?

The principle of least privilege in access control advocates providing individuals with the minimum level of access necessary to perform their job functions. This reduces the risk of unauthorized actions and potential security breaches.

Gowsika

Gowsika

Gowsika is an avid reader and storyteller who untangles the knotty world of compliance and cybersecurity with a dash of charming wit! While she’s not decoding cryptic compliance jargon, she’s oceanside, melody in ears, pondering life’s big (and small) questions. Your guide through cyber jungles, with a serene soul and a sharp pen!

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