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on 9 March 2023

The Different Methods of Access Control Explained

The different methods of access control explained

Access control refers to the systems allowing organizations to choose whom to restrict and authorize entry to, including which specific zones they have permission to access. Four main options or methods of access control are used to suit a premises’ unique security requirements best. 

These methods range from the number of employees granted access to the number of accessible zones involved or contained in the building. 

Each access control system provides different approaches to controlling access to resources. 

With that being said, it’s essential for any business owner to understand the general strengths and weaknesses of each access control method to ensure that they’re choosing the most appropriate solution for their organization’s specific needs. 

Below are four main types or methods of access control, including their unique benefits, potential drawbacks and characteristics: 

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) 

Role-based access control (RBAC), sometimes known as non-discretionary access control, is the most common access control system. This system assigns permissions and access based on users’ specific corporate responsibilities/roles or job titles. 

These flexible systems can prevent lower-level personnel from accessing sensitive or high-level information. Rights to access RBAC systems are created around variables such as company resources needs, job, location, and more. 

Many business owners appreciate the RBAC approach as it’s user-friendly and easy to organize employees based on the resources they require access to. It allows conveniently adjusting these permissions and user groupings via a centralized database. 

The only potential drawback of a role-based access control system is the need for more customization involved. However, this is not an issue for many organizations with lower-dynamic corporate environments. 

Rule-Based Access Control (RBAC)

As its name implies, the rule-based access control system is a method that grants authority based on structured rules and guidelines that are set into place. 

When a user attempts to gain access to a particular resource, the system will scan the predetermined rules contained in the “access control list” and will decide on access appropriately. 

Furthermore, since this method is heavily context and detail based, it offers high flexibility with access control policies and is often suitable for larger organizations. Rule-based access control systems are also often combined with the aforementioned role-based approach. 

Their most significant potential drawback is the level of hands-on administrative work required. This process can be laborious when policies need regular monitoring and adjustment. 

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory access control (MAC) is considered the most suitable choice for organizations requiring the highest level of security and privacy and is also the most low-effort approach. 

With the most restrictive protections of all the access control methods, the mandatory access control system relies solely on system administrators to grant access. This means that users cannot alter the permissions that allow or deny entry into various zones. 

Additionally, mandatory access control systems even limit the resource owner’s ability to allow access to anything listed within the system. After a staff member enters the system, they are tagged with a distinctive connection of varying “tags” (or programmed security profiles) determined by their degree of access. 

Therefore, whatever tag a user may have assigned to them, their access to resources is limited according to the sensitivity of the data contained inside. Since mandatory access control systems require more time and effort to implement changes, business owners must be ok with this aspect. 

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

A discretionary access control system (DAC) is the least restrictive approach to access control, enabling the business owner to control which users receive access permissions to which resources versus giving this authority to security experts. 

With this method, system administrators will set user or group privileges based on identity. However, the users with these privileges will be able to share them with other users without them, with no involvement from administrators necessary. 

That said, while the DAC method is easier to manage than the MAC systems mentioned above, they are only suitable for business owners knowledgeable and trained in security policies and best practices. 

The main potential drawbacks of discretionary access control are an increased risk of data breaches or access granted to private zones for unauthorized users, making it a less suitable option for specific organizations. 

Access control systems play a critical role in helping organizations safeguard their personal assets, maintain the privacy and security of confidential data, and keep the trust of their valued customers, partners, and employees — all while contributing to improved operational efficiency. 

Optimum Security Offers Access Control Mechanisms Suited to Your Canadian Establishment 

For more information on our access control security systems in your area, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Optimum security at 604-644-9229 (BC), 780-995-9229 (AB), or 416-628-3393 (ON). Alternatively, please fill out the online form here to contact our representatives.

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