Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): What is it, and how does it work?

Role-Based Access Control RBAC
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Every business leader understandably worries about keeping data secure. Managers are increasingly seeking strategies to protect their organizations against cybercrime, unauthorized access, and data breaches. Role-based access control (RBAC) is an approach that can handle all of these challenges and more.

Role-based access control is a security mechanism in which only authorized users given certain rights may access data relevant to their role within an organization. Access to a company’s buildings, networks, controls, and assets may all be carefully managed with role-based access control.

Below, we look at Role-based access control and how it should be a cornerstone of your business’s cybersecurity strategy.

What is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)?

RBAC is analogous to a set of “keys” that provide people — in this example, staff – the ability to unlock certain “rooms” inside your network or physical regions of your facility. As long as the individual has the right key, they may access the required location or data inside the organization.

Permissions or security levels are the “keys” that provide users access to the required data. Users’ database, data, and resource access depend on their position and requirement in the organization.

When properly implemented, role-based access control is an excellent line of defense against data breaches and other cyberattacks. It does so without compromising the fluid continuity of operations for users inside an organization.

How does RBAC work?

RBAC originates from the idea that different employees have different kinds of information they need to access to do their jobs properly.

If an employee’s job or work does not need them to access non-essential sections of an information technology platform or particular data, role-based access control will restrict them from doing so (s).

You may, for instance, make it a rule that no one in your finance department is permitted to access any marketing or brand-specific data. You might also make it a rule that no one in your marketing department can see company financials.

Cybersecurity experts will often organize RBAC permissions into one of the following three systems, while other businesses may create their role-based access control security framework differently:

  • Core: This is the universal structure that serves as the basis for all RBAC models. It includes the configurations applied to each user, role, item, action, and permission
  • Hierarchical: Refers to the process through which certain users in an organization are granted special privileges based on their function or job obligations that other employees may not have. For example, users in management may have enhanced rights to access data applicable to the whole organization, in contrast to the permissions provided to other workers, which may be more limited
  • Constrained: Access within a constrained RBAC system is allowed to employees largely in relation to the job responsibilities they are responsible for rather than necessarily their rank or position within the corporation’s organizational structure

What is a User Role?

A user role is associated with the permissions necessary to carry out certain activities or responsibilities (e.g., job-related or project work). Some typical user roles are as follows:

  • System administrator: System administrators, sometimes known as “SysAdmins,” often have unrestricted access and are normally tasked with setting and managing the totality of the system
  • Advanced users: Users who fall under this category often have managerial, supervisory, or leadership duties. These users have more leeway in navigating the system, including examining organizational dashboards and adjusting user-level settings. In addition, they have access to more features
  • Basic user: This is a level with more restrictions. An individual who can traverse the system but has restricted access to data at the organizational level is considered a basic user. In most cases, the capacity of these users to search for information inside your computer system is more limited than that of advanced users
  • Employee: A user who has access at the employee level is granted access to the tools necessary to carry out their job responsibilities or finish the work on the project assigned to them. There are a variety of ways that visitors and users who are not always present may have their access managed by access control systems
  • Archival: Former users who are no longer active on the platform and cannot utilize the system’s fundamental functions

Understanding the benefits of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Restricting data access improves network security for businesses regardless of the size of your organization. In addition, implementing a role-based access control may provide increased levels of security and productivity across all departments.

  • Security: RBAC increases overall security in compliance, confidentiality, privacy, and access control to resources and other sensitive data and systems.
  • Selective access: RBAC systems may simultaneously accommodate users with numerous roles, each with its own set of permissions.
  • Security as a function of organizational structure: Permits businesses to establish hierarchies for granting rights based on seniority or organizational topology.
  • Separation of duties (SoD): SoD is the idea that no individual has complete control over an activity. Organizations profit from SoD since cyber-attacks on a single account do not cause major damage to systems.
  • Flexibility: IT departments may regularly examine and alter permissions associated with each position.

Additional advantages consist of the following:

  • Streamlined IT management: With a well-designed RBAC network security platform, your IT person or team may reduce the amount of paperwork and human labor necessary for upgrading your system and resetting passwords.
  • Regulatory and Industry Compliance: Organizations may comply with federal, state, and local standards with the aid of well-designed RBAC processes. RBAC facilitates compliance with legislative and regulatory standards pertaining to privacy and confidentiality. Especially important for the healthcare and financial sectors that handle sensitive data, such as protected health information (PHI) and data from the payment card industry (PCI).

Next Steps: Implementing RBAC in your business

There are many ways to implement role-based access control. The approach we suggest below is used by many IT professionals in many industries for both large and small businesses.

  1. List all Network System Components: Assessing your present systems and the hardware you will need to acquire for a safe RBAC-driven system is the first stage in implementing a secure RBAC-driven system.
  2. Evaluate Employee Functions and Create User Roles: Assigning roles to employees or positions includes assessing how many employees you have within each department or performing similar functions. For example, you may have not one but five people in accounting who require access to company budgets and financial data. In this step, you want to assess employees in your organization carefully.
  3. Assign personnel to the required User Roles: In continuation of the previous phase, you will examine user roles in more detail and determine which of your workers need viewing-only access and who has the ability to create, modify, and delete documents, etc. Advanced security suppliers also provide biometric security methods for user authorization management.
  4. Eliminate “one-off” exceptions: This “occasional” practice can, over time, lead to holes within your network security platform, which in turn lead to errors, duplicate data, misplaced or deleted data (both intentionally and unintentionally), and other issues. Over time, this “occasional” practice can lead to holes.
  5. Self-audit regularly. As we often recommend with business-related security practices, ongoing scrutiny and examination of your system, how your users interact with the system’s permissions, ease of administrator maintenance, and continuity of system updates are essential self-audit checks to conduct regularly.

RBAC is an essential kind of system management in this day and age, when data, particularly proprietary data, is of very high value, and the risk of data being compromised by cyberattacks increases on a daily basis.

RELATED: Top 5 Identity and Access Management (IAM) Best Practices

Role-based access control not only enables you to keep complete oversight and security of your network and the data it stores but they are also designed to streamline your IT staff’s work without impeding your employees’ productivity.

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