Role-Based Access Control

By Bernhard Mehl
August 27, 2019
Kisi dashboard view on computer

What is Role-Based Access Control?

Role-based access control is advanced access control that limits the network access of an enterprise based on the roles of the employees. The roles of the employees determine the level of access granted to sensitive data or secured areas of the organization. Employees that have the lowest responsibilities are generally not granted access to the higher security level network.

A good role-based access control example can be found in the difference in access levels between a network administrator and a a business manager. The network administrator would have More access across the network, while the business manager would have more limited access to the areas of the network strictly related to his/her responsibilities.

Role-based access control is usually implemented in a company that has many employees and fitted with third-party controls so that access to the network doesn’t need to be constantly monitored. When access to the network strictly is predetermined by the user’s role or hierarchy within a company, the management of secure physical spaces becomes easier.

How to Implement Role-Based Access Control

Before incorporating role-based access control organizations need to understand the roles within the company. After determining what each position in the company does, find out the different resources that they will use to access the internal company network or what tools/software they need to complete their work. For example, customer databases, marketing assets saved in the cloud, or technical files

The employees should be thoroughly trained to understand the role-based access control protocol. An audit should be conducted regularly on the access points to ensure there has been no breach of protocol.

The role-based access control (RBAC) software should be configured in a way to monitor and permit access based on the role of the user, whether it is a full-time employee, a contractor, or simply a visitor in the office.

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Pros of Role-Based Access Control

Some of the advantages of role-based access control include:

Reduced Costs

RBAC is highly effective in saving costs on physical security technologies. With the users' access limited to an organization’s data network, the company will save costs associated with storage, memory, and bandwidth.

Improves Efficiency

Without RBAC, changing a security network would require a change of username and password when new employees are hired. This can be a daunting and time-consuming process for network administrators. RBAC takes away the need to create and change passwords multiple times. The new user is granted access based on the previously assigned role.

Tightens Security

A company relies heavily on protecting its image by guarding its internal network. Businesses need to prioritize guarding the data of their employees, customers and other segments of the enterprise. Role-based access control models ensure that access to the company's network and every user should be where they are supposed to be. When proper access control is designed and installed, it achieves a high level of security than traditional modes of securing valuable spaces.

Reduces Administrative Work

When an employee's role is changed or a new employee is recruited, access to the remote network involves paperwork and password changes, wasting a lot of time and resources for everyone involved. With the RBAC, changing roles within the company does not require paperwork before access is granted to the new user.

Cons of Role-Based Access Control

Below are some of the disadvantages of role-based access control:

Can be Hacked: Role-based access control data networks can be hacked. When hacked access to the organization's sensitive data can be accessed by unauthorized persons. However, this can be avoided by setting up strong firewalls around the RBAC network.

Lack of Flexibility: Another downside of this access control system is that its function is limited only to the current operating system. Future changes made to the RBAC will attract overhead costs in maintenance fees and updates and this can bog down an enterprise that may not be able to afford it.

Role-based access control encapsulates all physical access of an organization's entities into one place. This security protocol promotes easy access monitoring, improves security, saves costs and enhances operational efficiency, making it the perfect security tool for organizations that have a large amount of users on their data network.

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.