Access Control Security Essentials

By Gema Sundstrom
December 10, 2019

Access control is a security feature that manages and monitors accessibility to a system and minimizes security risks. Quick and easy access is required today in many organizations to facilitate the steady flow of traffic, whether it be employees, maintenance or utility workers, cleaning services, etc... The same organizations also realize that not everyone who is granted access is going to be an ethical user, hence the need to balance user and security requirements.

Cybercriminals will always target the entry point of access with the aim of exploiting loopholes, especially the identity systems where they can compromise the credentials of genuine users. This, along with social engineering, is the most common mode of attack.

Challenges of Access Control for IT Professionals

Computer programs, devices, and people need authorization to access information and perform tasks, and the more sensitive or valuable the information is, the stronger the access control system should be. This highly secure status, however, cannot be achieved without some challenges like:

  • Different levels of access for different users
  • The ever-changing corporate environment
  • Diverse data on all users
  • Classification levels

There are also basic access control practices that have to be adhered to such as:

  • Denying access to undefined users
  • Remove obsolete user accounts 
  • Suspending inactive accounts after a month or two
  •  Delaying or suspending access after several unsuccessful login attempts
  • Enforcing strict access criteria
  • Disabling what is not needed in the system
  • Replacing default password settings
  • Ensuring that logon IDs and job functions are different
  • Enforcing “need-to-know” and “least privilege” practices
  • Enforcing password rotation and requirements (contents and length)

There is a huge demand for security access control systems and this is becoming a challenge for IT professionals. They need to meet various requirements simultaneously in a landscape that is not only full of options but always changing. Daily modifications in order to provide access, new users who have to be onboarded, current users to be blocked or offboarded, companies that want to provision access based on specific levels with an organization; these are just a few of the scenarios that call for advanced access control and increased diligence from IT professionals. Managing these demands calls for a security access control system that is effective and efficient when it comes to integrating existing and future systems while allowing users to smoothly access the information that they need.

Being in Control and Secure

Organizational data does not only exist within the network perimeter. As an organization, you cannot solely depend on firewalls and other intrusion prevention systems. Yes, they play a great role, but when it comes to sensitive data, there can never be too many fail-safes in place. The challenge of controlling access is increasing thanks to cloud computing and mobile gadgets. Data now spreads to a much broader area. This necessitates implementing strict security discipline.

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Access Control Security Policies and Procedure

The management should lay down a plan on how they expect security to be managed within the organization. This is what is referred to as a security policy. The security policy encompasses acceptable actions, acceptable risk levels security implementation directives for each department and employee, repercussions for non-compliance, guidelines, procedures and details of support to enforce the security policy.

Access Control Security Services

There are three processes that are combined  to ensure that only authorized users are onboard.

Identification, Authentication, and Authorization

The first step in a security access control system is a claim of identity. This is done by entering a username. The system will then verify the entered identity through authentication. It could be a password or make use of advanced biometric and token authentication. When this is completed successfully, the system has to verify if the user has authorization to perform the requested activity. Your identity is one thing but your scope of activity must be within what is permitted to you or your level.

The Identification Process

Picture this: An employee no longer works with an organization. Their status in the company has changed but their identity is still the same. This means that they will be able to access files and other confidential data, hence the need for a security system in place to detail the current status of an employee so that the appropriate authorization is granted. Two-factor authentication is even more effective for this purpose because it ensures that the correct person is identified.

The three service elements are combined together to ensure thorough security. This makes it hard for unethical users to circumvent the system. Identification is for the purposes of accounting things like user behaviour. Authentication is to ensure that the identity is not used by anyone else apart from the legitimate user while authorization limits the scope of activity and ensures there is no prohibited act such as deletion of files.

The Benefits of Security Access Control Systems

An Effective access control security system has several benefits:

  • Improved data security
  • Low security costs
  • Effective access to resources
  • Complying with the government

There is synchronization of authentication and authorization in one platform hence providing a method of managing user access consistently. Time is saved and more of it focuses on managing the platform. A single platform means the number of times interactions with the security system occurs. This means more effective and efficient access to resources.

The other benefit is that companies will have an easier time implementing compliance with government regulations and avoid fines or liability cases in the future. For IT positions, technology is not just a career factor, but a security position as well. A good access control security system ensures that there is an advanced control of user access. The risk of external and internal breaches is lowered. Research shows that most breaches are committed by company employees and three-quarters of them were malicious.

Conclusion

In summary, access control security systems are meant to ensure that company or business information is relayed to the appropriate devices and physical spaces that should remain locked. Advanced access control ensures that only legitimate users have access to company data. 

Gema Sundstrom

Office Manager at Kisi