In today's digital environment, the availability of data resources have become virtually accessible from almost anywhere. While this provides new growth opportunities and profitability for data-driven organizations, it also poses an increased risk of data breaches.
In September 2021 alone, there were 1,291 data breaches — a 17% rise in data breaches compared to the previous year's total of 1,108 breaches. The research also observed substantial growth of 291 million victims of cyber threats during the first nine months of 2021.
These figures show that expanding data access comes with a greater need on our part to govern our personal or sensitive data, particularly when it comes to the businesses that we operate. To improve information security, data-driven organizations should change the way it handles data access controls.
What Exactly Are Access Controls?
Today, companies are increasingly embracing access controls — with some automating access controls, security, and compliance, all while streamlining data access. A comprehensive access control system ultimately enables you to monitor and govern your information and its application in real-time, moving away from an ad hoc development and time-consuming processes.
But what exactly are access controls?
Access controls are examples of a data security technique that allow firms to govern who has access to company data and resources. Secure access control employs procedures that guarantee users are who they claim to be and that suitable control access levels are provided to them.
Implementing access control is a critical component of web application security, ensuring that only the appropriate users have access to the appropriate resources. The method is crucial in assisting enterprises in avoiding data breaches and combating attack vectors such as buffer overflow attacks, KRACK attacks, on-path attacks, and phishing attacks.
Why Are Access Controls Important?
Access controls are growing increasingly popular, and their significance has skyrocketed throughout the year. It’s necessary because it is an essential security strategy to regulate who and what can see or use any resource. This could be used to describe who has access to a file and what equipment, as well as who can access particular devices.
The ultimate goal of access control is to provide security that reduces the risk to an organization or business by protecting data, facilities, and people. Access control is an integral part of information security and should be a priority for every business owner. If you don't have effective access control, you could expose your staff and firm to risks such as data theft and violations of privacy and data protection regulations.
How Does Access Control Work?
Access control is a process that identifies persons or entities and verifies them. Access control eventually approves the access level and the set of activities associated with the login or IP address.
Two primary directory services and protocols, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and Security Assertion Markup Language are available to authenticate and authorize users and entities. They also provide access controls that allow them to connect to computer resources like distributed applications or web servers.
Organizations utilize numerous access control strategies depending on their compliance requirements and the security levels of information technology (IT) they are attempting to protect.
Different Types of Access Control
Depending on the nature of your organization, you'll want to think about a number of broad concepts: what amount of ownership you want over the system and how you select which people have access to what.
There are several models of access control, each with its own set of advantages.
Mandatory access control (MAC)
The required access control system provides the most stringent safeguards, with system administrators solely responsible for granting access. This implies that users cannot modify permissions that prohibit or enable them access to various regions, resulting in formidable protection around important data.
It even limits the capacity of the resource owner to provide access to anything mentioned in the system. When an employee enters the system, they are assigned a unique link of changeable "tags"—similar to a digital security profile—that indicates the amount of access they have. As a result, depending on the tags a user possesses, they will have limited access to resources due to the sensitivity of the information included. Because of its devotion to anonymity, this technology is so astute that it is often employed by government institutions.
Discretionary access control (DAC)
A discretionary access control system, on the other hand, gives the business owner a bit more power. Even if the system administrator creates a hierarchy of files with certain permissions, they get to decide who has access to which resources. All that is required is the proper authorization. The main negative, of course, is that granting end-user choice over security levels may result in some oversight. And because the system demands more active involvement in maintaining permissions, actions can easily slip through the gaps. A DAC system is flexible and high-effort, whereas the MAC method is rigid and low-effort.
Role-based access control (RBAC)
Role-based access control grants users access based on their business responsibilities. As the most prevalent access control system, it evaluates access based on your position in the firm, ensuring that lower-level employees do not acquire access to sensitive information. This strategy manages access permissions on a set of criteria that relate to the company, such as resource requirements, environment, employment, geography, and so on. Most business owners prefer this method because it allows them to easily organize personnel based on the resources they require. Human resources personnel, for example, do not require access to confidential marketing materials, and marketing employees do not need access to employee pay. RBAC is a versatile paradigm that promotes visibility while protecting against breaches and data leaks.
Rule-based access control
Permissions are granted in this system using specified rules and policies. When a user tries to access a resource, the operating system verifies the rules set in the "access control list" for that specific resource. Creating the rules, policies, and context takes time and work. Furthermore, this method will frequently be used with the role-based approach that we outlined before.
Attribute-based access control (ABAC)
Drilling down even further, this sort of system provides distinct dynamic and risk-aware control based on the qualities assigned to a certain user. Consider these characteristics to be components of your user profile; combined, they determine your access. Once policies are in place, these qualities may be used to determine whether or not a user should have control. These properties can also be acquired and imported from a different database, such as Salesforce.
Benefits of Having an Access Control System
Traditional keys aren't required
Traditional keys may easily and frequently be lost or misplaced, posing a security risk that access control eliminates. If there are several rooms and buildings with restricted access, each individual will require multiple keys, which can be cumbersome to carry about - access control solves this problem.
Keep track of who comes and goes
It allows you to know who is where and when and that everyone is working where they are meant to be by tracking who enters and departs your premises. It also implies that in the event of an incident, accident, or theft, you'll be able to pinpoint exactly who was in the area or place at the moment.
By preventing undesirable guests and non-authorized individuals from entering your facilities, an access control system helps secure your employees and visitors. If someone without access attempts to enter the facility, they will be denied, greatly increasing the security of your site as well as the safety of your employees and guests.
Another advantage of an access control system is that it might help you save money over time. This is because you won't have to replace or supply keys, locks, or hire security guards to keep your site safe.
By restricting access to the building, no unauthorized individuals will be able to enter, making it far more difficult for intruders to enter and steal.
Enhance Employee Experience
Employees will not only feel safer on-site, but they will also have a better working experience since they will be able to access various areas of the office without having to rely on others or security people to open and lock buildings and rooms. This will allow them to be more flexible in their work styles and increase overall employee happiness.
Policy on access control
Most security professionals recognize the importance of access control in their business. However, according to experts, not everyone agrees on how access control should be implemented.
Access control approaches were frequently static in the past. Today, network access must be fluid and should support identity and application-based use cases.
A comprehensive access control strategy may be dynamically adjusted to respond to changing risk variables, allowing a penetrated firm to minimize the damage.
Businesses must ensure that their access control solutions are adaptive and changeable in response to risk concerns. To ensure dynamic access control, they should add layers of security measurements on top of their existing security configurations using AI and other learning software.
A comprehensive access control strategy may be dynamically updated to respond to changing risk variables, allowing a violated organization to isolate the appropriate workers and data resources to limit the harm.
Ways to Improve Access Controls
1. Evaluate Your Access Control System Features
Many facilities managers base their decisions on how a system appears and on verbal information rather than delving into the precise features that address the day-to-day difficulties they confront.
Choose a system focused on its capabilities rather than its appearance. Consider the following when selecting an access control system:
- The locations where a system is required.
- It will be used to get access at times.
- How many individuals will have different degrees of access?
- How does it integrate with any other components you may already have in place?
2. Implement and Maintain Secure Login Processes
This verifies users' identities and associates them with their actions. Secure login procedures can also reduce the risk of password compromises that could lead to data breaches or security incidents. It is recommended that users set a limit of five consecutive failed login attempts within a 15-minute time frame. After the threshold of failed login attempts, accounts should be locked. You are encouraged to send failed login alerts and other relevant domain controller alerts to those responsible for monitoring your organization's networks.
3. Identify and Limit Primary Entrances to Ensure Controlled Entry Into Your Building(s)
Because each entry represents a possible weakness, having several entrances implies these organizations are physically opening the door to prospective adversaries.
You'll be able to better regulate and monitor the flow of individuals entering and exiting your facility once you've identified your primary entry points and limited your admissions to only those that are absolutely essential.
4. Security Must Encompass More Than the Front Door
The majority of security checks are positioned immediately outside the main door. However, today's systems must also track what happens after an employee is inside. To properly improve security, we must always know who is doing what, where, and when. Ignorance isn't bliss, and if you're not careful, it may swiftly leave you wounded.
5. Update Your Technology
Owners and managers of businesses should consider implementing modern encryption technologies. The goal of installing access control is to limit who can enter. It is time to upgrade if you are still utilizing outdated systems. Organizations should always budget for a system update every ten years, keeping in mind that technology might soon become obsolete.
6. Perform Periodic Access Control Systems Testing
Check your access control system just as you would your smoke detectors in your home to ensure they operate when and how you need them. All gadgets should be working properly. Always pay close attention to minor faults in your access control system before they become major problems. Perform monthly to quarterly testing since it is the only way to ensure that everything is working properly.
Are Access Control Systems Worth the Investment?
When you examine the numerous security benefits that an access control system can provide to your company, it's easy to understand how valuable an access control system can be. You may not only protect your business's assets and create highly secure sections in your facility that require authentication, but you can also provide a safe working environment for your personnel.
While access control has progressed from protecting actual papers in physical facilities to cloud-based technologies, the concept of safeguarding your resources is timeless. The better we become at using technology, the more possibilities we will have. Understanding the important elements, such as business size, resource requirements, and staff location could improve the way your organization handles data access controls.
Technology is never a panacea. Providing the greatest protection for public buildings and commercial organizations still need efficient systems and personnel. But as businesses and large organizations continue to employ cloud-based solutions and technology inside an effective governance structure, technology continues to complement and streamline security, making it more effective and efficient.