Centralized Access Control: An Overview

What is centralized access control and how does it work? What is the difference between centralized and distributed access control?

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What is Centralized Access Control?

Centralized access control enables the user to access all applications, websites and other computing systems from a single profile, with the same credentials from any location. All information assets in control of the user are subject to unified identity management.

‍Centralized access control lets you in your all IT assets with a single set of credentials

How Centralized Access Control Works

With unified identity management across all enterprise applications, the user has only one browser-based console for integrated access control. The central access manager or console enables multiple IT services and infrastructure a company needs, such as installation and configuration of components, monitoring the health of a network or centralized access to all work resources employees need to perform all standard job tasks. Simply put, you only need to log into a single screen and provide one set of credentials to be able to manage identity servers, access gateways, SSL VPNs, Java agents, devices and policies

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The Difference Between Centralized and Distributed Access Control

In contrast to distributed access control where users need to provide different credentials (usernames and passwords) for any application or website they access, centralized access control grants the same access with a single set of credentials. To understand how centralized access works, you can compare it to your Microsoft access account which lets you into everything you have on your computer with typing just one password. The difference is that centralized access control encompasses all web access, too.

Simplified centralized access management usually means greater vulnerability since anyone getting hang of your single credentials can also get hold of all your files and data. Distributed (or decentralized) access is what we usually use in our day-to-day computers, where we have different usernames and passwords for multiple applications, email clients and websites (or, at least, should have, because many people just find it convenient to copy the same password across platforms, increasing the risks for security threats).

Centralized access control has two key benefits. The first one comes from a time-saving and convenience perspective: it’s undeniably easier to manage all your applications with just one set of authentication details. The second is the possibility to change passwords in a standardized way and more often, which is an encouraged security practice and definitely much safer than just copying the same password on multiple applications.

Centralized vs. Decentralized Access

The difference between centralized and decentralized access control administration lies in who or what has root access to change permissions in the system. In a centralized system, a user can access all of the relevant entries and platforms with one set of credentials that they choose. In a decentralized system, which more often refers to software or an online platforms, there is no specific administrator managing or granting access to individual users, nor are the users actively controlling their credentials. For example, Bitcoin or BitTorrent are good representations on decentralized access control. In these systems, users are given encrypted keys that are automatically generated to access their accounts, and any transactions or actions in these software are verified by protocols that aren't controlled by any one person. Verification comes from the cooperation of multiple nodes (or a network of computers). Theoretically, without a centralized root access point, decentralized systems are supposed to be hack-proof.

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