Controlling who accesses your network and data is of paramount importance to your business, your security, and your reputation as an organization. After all, a data breach can be damaging to your business and devastating to your customers if their data is stolen. But what is role-based access control and how does it secure your network? That’s what this blog is all about.
What is Role-Based Access Control?
Role-based access control (RBAC) restricts network access based on a person’s role within an organization; it’s currently one of the most frequently used methods for access control. The model sets up a hierarchy of permissions so the highest level of information an employee can access is proportional to their role within the company. Employees are only allowed to access the information needed to effectively perform their duties; this can be based on several factors including authority, responsibility, and job competency. Additionally, access to computer resources may be limited to specific tasks such as the ability to view, create, or modify a file.
Benefits of Role-Based Access Control
When using RBAC, access management is easy to administer as long as you strictly adhere to the role requirements. RBAC specifically helps you do the following:
- Create systematic, repeatable assignment of permissions
- Easily audit user privileges and correct identified issues
- Quickly add and change roles, as well as implement them across APIs
- Cut down on the potential for error when assigning user permissions
- Integrate third-party users by giving them pre-defined roles
- More effectively comply with regulatory and statutory requirements for confidentiality and privacy.
When we’re talking about “roles,” though, we should distinguish “role” from “position” or “job title.” Any organization—and small and medium businesses are no exception—can easily have many employees with the same title but very different responsibilities. So, when we talk about a role, we’re discussing a collection of permissions that you can apply to users. Using roles makes it easier to add, remove, and adjust permissions to individual users. As your user base increases in both scale and complexity, the utility of roles becomes only increasingly useful.
Role-based access control helps you control which people in your organization can see what data.
Role-based access control (which shouldn’t be confused with the similarly named rule-based access control) is also an additive model, meaning if you have overlapping role assignments, your effective permissions can unify and overlap roles.
An Example of Role-Based Access Control
If you have an API that provides data for an event application. You create a role of Organizer and assign it permissions that allow it to view, create, and edit events. You also create a role of Registrant, which is allowed to view and register for events, but not create nor edit events. But if you have a user who holds both the role of Organizer and Registrant, then that person will be able to view, create, edit, and register for events.
Implementing RBAC requires organizations to consider how their internal processes fit into the designation of roles. When setting up role-based access control withing your organization, be sure to follow these five steps:
- Perform a system and software inventory—list all resources within the organization that a user may need access to, including apps, software, hardware, etc.
- Identify and list required roles—analyze current user permissions and create roles based on them. Be mindful of high-level roles: too many micro-roles can defeat the purpose of role-based access control in the first place.
- Map roles to resources—once roles have been created, map the roles to the resources for proper access management and visibility for the resources.
- Assign users to roles—now, map the group of users having similar access levels to the newly created roles. As these roles are already mapped to the resources, the users mapped to the roles will automatically get access to the needed resources.
- Perform frequent access reviews—working with role-based access control is not a one-time issue. It still requires audits and corrections made to keep roles in-line with changing user needs.
Microsoft’s Azure also offers role-based access to help administer access to Azure resources and defines what exactly users can do within those resources. There are three key elements to Azure Resource Manager (ARM): security principle, role definitions, and scope—which is then broken down into four further levels: management groups, subscription, resource group, and direct resource.
As you can see, getting started with RBAC is a complicated, but not impossible task. The most important step in getting set up is to partner with an IT solutions company you can trust, so contact Innovative Integration—we can help you keep your critical data secure!