Access Control: Types & Implementation

Instructor: Chris Farquhar

Chris is an experienced technology professional and subject matter/industry expert in AI, Internet of Things and enterprise security. He has a Science Degree (Computer Science/Information Technology).

Access control is a critical element of any security implementation. In this lesson, we will identify and describe the various types of access controls, and provide an example implementation of access control in a business.

What is Access Control?

Access control is the process of identifying a person and determining their level of security access to either electronic systems or physical sites based on the policies and procedures set by the organization. Modern access control systems identify a person, authenticate them by looking at their identification, then give that person only the key to the door or digital resource that they need to access.

Access is granted using a set of steps to make sure this user can access the requested resources. These steps are typically:

  1. Identification
  2. Authentication
  3. Authorization

Types of Access Control

Access control types include:

  • Administrative
  • Physical
  • Technical

Administrative Access Control

Administrative access control sets the access control policies and procedures for the whole organization, defines the implementation requirements of both physical and technical access control, and what the consequences of non-compliance will be. Some examples are: supervisory structure, staff and contractor controls, information classification, training, auditing, and testing.

Physical Access Control

Physical access control is critical to an organizations security and applies to the access or restriction of access to a place such as property, building or room. Some examples are: fences, gates, doors, turnstiles, etc. using locks, badges, biometrics (facial recognition, fingerprints), video surveillance cameras, security guards, motion detectors, mantrap doors, etc. to allow access to certain areas.

Technical or Logical Access Control

Technical or logical access control limits connections to computer networks, system files, and data. It enforces restrictions on applications, protocols, operating systems, encryptions mechanisms, etc.

In today's increasingly digital world, modern access control systems combine both administrative, physical and technical access control to limit access to sensitive data and physical locations, providing a much higher level of security. Some examples are: access control lists, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software.

Figure 1 illustrates some of the advantages of access controls...

Advantages of using access control

Access Control Models

How does someone grant the right level of permission to an individual so that they can perform their duties? Access control models define how permissions are assigned.

Access control models have four flavors:

  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
  • Rule Based Access Control (RBAC)

Figure 2 provides a look at what each of these models entails...

Access control models

Implementing Access Control

A valid access control plan includes the following considerations:

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