What Are Access Control Models?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the main access control models: Discretionary, Role-based, and Mandatory. Which one is right for your company? Read on to learn more. Each has benefits, and each has its own set of disadvantages. An example would be how Fortinet highlights four leading access control models. Let’s start with Mandatory access control. This model allows the system owner to maintain a tight grip on access and is considered the most secure of all access control models. Therefore, it’s typically used for maximum security.

Attribute-based access control

ABAC (Attribute-based access control) models define a hierarchy of user groups and attributes. The administrative model, ARBAC97, includes a submodel called the GURAG model, which considers the current characteristics of users and groups and their relationships to the groups. In this model, the administrative role hierarchy is fixed, and the administration of details regulates the attributes of users.

ABAC is a powerful model that enables organizations to create dynamic policies and meet compliance requirements. It is so powerful that the US Federal Government has made it a Priority Objective and issued implementation guidelines. ABAC works by intelligently examining the attributes in an environment and generating rules based on specific conditions. These rules control access to the features based on the resource requested by the user.

Discretionary access control

Discretionary access control is an effective option if you want to control who can access specific files, but it doesn’t provide a reliable level of security. This type of security is only helpful if you want to prevent accidental disclosure of information. Malicious users must be restricted through other means, such as mandatory access controls. Discretionary access control models are flexible and easy to use, but you should be aware of their limitations.

Discretionary access control models require users to grant permissions based on their roles and responsibilities. This can make managing the ACL more complex. For example, the user with the highest permissions is not necessarily the highest-level user in an organization. The administrator must decide whether to grant or deny permissions for specific users. Adding and removing users can be complicated. Grouping users may make the management of ACLs easier.

Role-based access control

A Role-based access control model (RBAC)\ is an information security model in which the roles of the users primarily determine access to resources. Users may have many functions depending on their job description and access privileges. Permissions are then assigned based on those roles. These permissions are a primary determinant of the data and applications a user can access. You may transfer positions to multiple users, job roles, geographic locations, and individuals.

Role-based access control models are an excellent solution for businesses that want to protect their assets and minimize risks associated with unauthorized users. They can provide high-level protection yet allow for flexibility and granular control for different scenarios. For example, administrators can allocate permissions to specific users and even exclude junior employees from a role if they don’t need to access a particular resource. As a result, organizations can reduce costs and avoid security breaches by using a Role-based access control model.

Rule-based access control

Rule-based access control models can be helpful for several reasons. For one, they eliminate the need for manual permission assignment. They also reduce labor costs and eliminate human error, assuming proper testing. On the other hand, the downsides of rule-based systems can easily outweigh the advantages.

While both models can help control access to sensitive resources and spaces, they are not as flexible as they could be. The security system only controls access to specific resources or areas with static rules. With dynamic management, the system can restrict access to specific resources or IP addresses during particular hours of the day. Users cannot access specific resources or spaces when they don’t have the necessary credentials. While these models may be more flexible, they require much administrative work.

IoT-based access control

IoT-based access control models address the scale issue in an IoT environment. IoT devices play a pivotal role in today’s digital world, and their distributed nature presents a new set of access control challenges. By definition, attributes are properties of an entity that uniquely identify it in a particular context. IoT-based access control models utilize attributes to enable fine-grained access control.

Authentication is a crucial concern for IoT environments. Authentication ensures that only authorized users can access resources. As such, it is essential to implement appropriate authentication and authorization. For this reason, the IoT environment demands more sophisticated access control models. While RBAC is a standard security model, it may not be appropriate for the specialized requirements of IoT. Furthermore, RBAC may result in a role explosion if it is overused.

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