What is rule-based access control?

Rule-based access control (RBAC) is a model for controlling access to resources or operations that are based on the role of the user. In other words, RBAC defines what a user can do based on their role in an organization. 

There are three main components to RBAC: roles, permissions, and users. Roles are defined by the organization and determine what a user can do. Permissions are actions that a user is allowed to perform, such as read, write, or execute. Users are assigned to roles, and roles are granted permissions. 

For example, let's say you have an eCommerce website with three types of users: customers, employees, and administrators. Customers can browse products and add them to their shopping cart, but they can't view customer information or order history. Employees can do all of the above plus view customer information and order history, but they can't change product pricing or create new products. Administrators can do everything on the site. This example illustrates the principle of least privilege, which is at the heart of RBAC. Under this principle, users are given only the permissions they need to perform their job, no more and no less. This minimizes the risk of accidental or malicious misuse of resources.

What are the advantages of rule-based access control systems?

There are many benefits to using rule-based access control (RBAC), including improved security, increased efficiency, and reduced costs. RBAC can help organizations to better manage who has access to what resources, and it can make it easier to enforce security policies. In addition, RBAC can help to improve compliance with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

The top three benefits of RBAC are:

  1. Increased efficiency. Organizations that implement RBAC can typically see a reduction in the number of user accounts and permissions, which can lead to increased efficiency and reduced costs. Additionally, RBAC can reduce the number of IT support requests by providing users with self-service options for tasks they are authorized to perform. 
  2. Simplified IT infrastructure. A rule-based access control system simplifies an organization's IT infrastructure by providing a unified, standardized method of controlling user access to available resources. By establishing a set of access control rules, such as user roles, permission levels and access restrictions, this system can help promote an efficient and secure IT environment, while making it simpler to manage user access and accounts across multiple platforms. Additionally, this system enables the organization to respond quickly to changes in access requirements, making it an ideal tool for organizations looking to increase their security while keeping their infrastructure efficient and manageable.
  3. Reduced risk of breaches. Rule-based access control can also help you to more easily manage changes to permissions and reduce the risk of accidental data breaches. RBAC can help to improve security by making it easier to track and manage who has access to what resources. For example, if a user is no longer authorized to access a certain resource, their permissions can be quickly revoked without affecting other users.

How can my organization implement a rule-based access control system?

RBAC is a flexible security model that can be adapted to fit the needs of any organization. It's easy to implement and maintain and scales well as organizations grow. When implemented correctly, rule-based access control can be a powerful tool for improving the security of your organization. If you are considering implementing this type of access control, be sure to work with a reputable provider who can help you to properly configure and deploy the system.

Below are six steps we recommend to implementing a rule-based access control system for your organization:

  1. Define your organization's security needs and objectives. To begin, you should conduct a security risk assessment to determine what kind of risks your organization faces. This assessment can involve interviewing key personnel, discovering dependencies and relationships among resources, and conducting background checks on existing security policies.
  2. Map roles and permissions. After clearly identifying your business security needs and objectives, you must define roles within your organization and then map out the permissions associated with each role. Once roles and permissions have been defined, users can be assigned to appropriate roles. IT administrators typically manage user assignments and role changes using a centralized tool, such as Active Directory Domain Services or Azure Active Directory.
  3. Establish authentication methods to verify users' identities. In order to ensure the security of our enterprise organization, we must use reliable authentication methods to verify users' identities and implement a rule-based access control system. Examples of authentication methods can include two-factor authentication, identity verification through personal questions, biometrics (such as finger or face scans) or logins with a username and password combination. All of these methods help verify user identities and ensure their access to only the appropriate protected information or systems within our enterprise organization.
  4.  Test the system - Make sure the access control system works as expected by testing it in a simulated environment. A successful test should verify that all users have only the access levels that they are supposed to possess while ensuring rules are enforced and appropriate authentication is required. The testing process should also take into account any user roles, data categories, and associated access privileges that have been defined in the system, in order to guarantee that data and resources are adequately restricted. Additionally, the system should be checked for any anomalies to prevent vulnerabilities, and any necessary updates should be performed for maximum security.
  5.  Implement the system - Deploy the access control system to the production environment. Industry-standard protocols and best practices for deploying an RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) system to a production environment include ensuring that there is an adequate user authentication and authorization process, secure encryption and data storage, and an audit trail, along with an established process to document any future changes. 
  6. Monitor, evaluate, and update the system on a regular basis. Monitor the usage of the system over time to ensure that the access control policy is being properly enforced. Regularly evaluate the performance and utility of the system, and make updates and improvements as needed.

For organizations looking to increase security and mitigate risk, a rule-based access control system is an essential tool. With a system like this in place, organization-wide security can be greatly improved, reducing the risk of unauthorized data being accessed by users, as well as eliminating potential compliance-related risks. Ultimately, an access control system like this facilitates an improved network infrastructure and a higher level of security for the entire enterprise.

Do you want peace of mind when it comes to the security of your enterprise? Consider bringing in help from our team at KNUT, the digital experience company for professional guidance to implement a personalized, tailored rule-based access control system for your enterprise. After your RBAC implementation, you'll want to learn more about KNVEY, the powerful digital experience platform that specializes in digital asset management and seamless integration with rule-based access control systems. With powerful asset and site management capabilities, KNVEY enables companies to create engaging online experiences for both customers and internal employees and leverage their digital assets in powerful and meaningful ways. When you're ready to discover how KNVEY can take your company's digital experience to the next level, enter your business email in the KNUT content form to receive a video tour of the key benefits and use cases of the platform.