Role-Based Access Control: How to Implement RBAC in Your Business?

Research McKinsey conducted in partnership with the World Economic Forum suggests that companies are struggling with their capabilities in cyberrisk management. As highly visible breaches occur with growing regularity, most technology executives believe that they are losing ground to attackers. Organizations large and small lack the facts to make effective decisions, and traditional “protect the perimeter” technology strategies are proving insufficient,” according to McKinsey — the worldwide management consulting firm.

Moreover, there is a rise in insider threats along with ever-growing cyberattacks. This brings us to these questions: how to protect your corporate assets from getting into the wrong hands? How to ensure your assets’ security?

RBAC or Role-Based Access Control Systems assist with this problem. These systems help to manage the access to controls or information within required limits and trusted parties, allowing you to protect your organization’s assets. But, how are they critical? How to implement them? Let’s check them in detail.

What is Role-Based Access Control?

Role-Based Access Control (commonly known as RBAC) is an access control system configured around roles and privileges. That means it’s a method of granting access or privileges to users based on their roles within an organization. It’s a security system since it allows providing just the required information to the employees for doing their jobs, but prevents them from gaining extra information.

In other words, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is “access control based on user roles (i.e., a collection of access authorizations a user receives based on an explicit or implicit assumption of a given role). Role permissions may be inherited through a role hierarchy and typically reflect the permissions needed to perform defined functions within an organization. A given role may apply to a single individual or to several individuals,” per Computer Security Resource Center of National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce).

Role-Based Access Control is inspired by the idea of compartmentalization: compartmentalization of user access — to be accurate. Compartmentalization in the computer or information security is the restricting of access to information to entities (devices or users) on a need-to-know basis. For example, there is an administrator who gets full rights, and then, there is a normal or standard user who’s given just the permissions to make use of the system to complete tasks.

Let’s take a simple example. You must have eaten out at a restaurant wherein you shall have seen a board saying “Staff Access”, meaning the area is reserved for the staff members only. It’s a classic example of role-based access control, wherein there are two users — customers (who can access the dining area and the restrooms) and staff members (who can access restricted areas too).

Why is RBAC Necessary for any Business?

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is “a critical capability for organizations that deploy applications into the cloud. With RBAC, IT security and operations analysts gain complete visibility and oversight into application permissions and the ability to easily manage who has access to cloud-based resources, what areas of the network can be accessed by users and what types of actions users can perform with the resources they are permitted to use,” according to Sumo Logic.

Then, there are various advantages of having a Role-Based Access Control System. For instance, you can impose both broad- and granular-level access or restrictions on the users. That’s not all; let’s check its benefits in detail.

1. Reduce Administrative Work

As stated by Sumo Logic, RBAC helps administrators and security analysts gain complete control and visibility into application and network permissions. Also, it decreases the need for doing paperwork, changing passwords, or switching roles. You can quickly change roles and responsibilities for a user or a user group using a Role-Based Access Control System. That means it reduces work.

2. Maximize Operational Work

Role-Based Access Control System provides a streamlined approach to assigning roles and switching permissions for the users or user groups. You no longer need to focus on low-level permissions, you can structure the permissions and responsibilities around roles and apply them to a user or user group directly. It, thus, helps users perform their work more autonomously, boosting efficiency.

3. Improve Legal Compliances

Every organization is subject to legal compliances — federal, state, and local rules and regulations. RBAC Systems help your organization meet these legal compliances including any confidentiality, privacy, and statutory requirements including the ability to manage the access to data. Though these compliances are required by every business entity, financial and healthcare companies must enforce extra care, thanks to industry compliances such as PCI-DSS and PHI.

How to Implement RBAC in Your Business?

Though Role-Based Access Control Systems may provide great benefits to your organization, you shouldn’t implement one without consideration. You must go through a series of steps to avoid confusion and workplace irritations, like:

1. Current Status

You must start by summarising the current status of roles and responsibilities in your organization. First of all, create a list of all software and hardware, then assess their security capabilities including any physical keys or locks in place. Finally, check who all have access to all these assets — digital or physical.

2. Current Roles

If you have a formal list of roles and responsibilities, it’s good. If not, you must create an official roster of roles and permissions using your above research. Of course, you must organize them seeing the present scenario of users and their required access controls to avoid minimizing their creativity or efficiency.

3. Create Policies

Now, you should create policies detailing the change to the Role-Based Access Control System. Even if you had a policy in place to reflect the user roles and permissions, a new one noting the changes will help smooth the transition.

4. Make Changes

Once you’re done with assessing the current scenario of user roles and their permissions and creating or updating policies, you should make changes.

5. Adapt Iteratively

Of course, the work is half done by now. You must regularly check the users, their roles and responsibilities, and the access controls and permissions they require for performing their jobs with creativity and efficiency. If you find that some changes must be made to the RBAC System, you must make changes.

That’s all about Role-Based Access Control, its importance in any organization, and the steps to implement such systems in a business. Did you find it helpful?

Ehacking Staff
With more than 50 global partners, we are proud to count the world’s leading cybersecurity training provider. EH Academy is the brainchild of Ehacking, which has been involved in the field of training since the past Five years and continues to help in creating professional IT experts.

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