Access control definition
Access control can be defined as the selective restriction of access to data. It consists of two main components: authentication and authorization. Authentication is a technique used to verify that someone is who they claim to be. However, authentication isn’t sufficient by itself to protect data. An additional layer, authorization, determines whether a user should be allowed to access the data or make a specific transaction. Any organization needs some level of access control in place. That’s especially true for businesses with employees who work out of the office and require access to the company data resources and services.
5 key challenges for enforcing access control
1. The need for persistent policies
Access control requires the enforcement of persistent policies in a dynamic world without traditional borders. Most of us work in hybrid environments where data moves from on-premises servers or the cloud to offices, homes, hotels, cars and coffee shops with open wi-fi hot spots, which can make enforcing access control difficult.
2. Deciding upon the most appropriate control model
Organizations must determine the appropriate access control model to adopt based on the type and sensitivity of data they’re processing. Older access models include Discretionary Access Control (DAC) and Mandatory Access Control (MAC). With DAC models, the data owner decides on access. MAC is a policy in which access rights are assigned based on regulations from a central authority.
Today, Role Based Access Control (RBAC) is the most common model. RBAC grants access based on a user’s role and implements key security principles.
The most recent model is known as Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC), in which each resource and user are assigned a series of attributes.
3. You may need multiple solutions for access control
In some cases, multiple technologies may need to work in concert to achieve the desired level of access control. Multifactor authentication can be a component to further enhance security.
4. Authorization is still an Achilles' heel for some organizations
Authorization is still an area in which it can be challenging to determine and perpetually monitor who gets access to which data resources, how they should be able to access them, and under which conditions they are granted access.
5. Your access control policies should be capable of dynamically changing
Network access must be dynamic and fluid, supporting identity and application-based use cases. Access control rules must change based on risk factor, which means that organizations must deploy security analytics layers using AI and machine learning that sit on top of the existing network and security configuration. They also need to identify threats in real-time and automate the access control rules accordingly.