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Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

What is role-based access control (RBAC)

Role-based access control, otherwise known as RBAC, is one of the main ways to control advanced access. It restricts network access based on roles, hence the name. The levels of access that employees and users have to the network are indicated by the roles.

The role of RBAC is to give as much access as employees need to effectively perform their jobs, but not more than they need.

Authority, job competency, and responsibility all play a factor in determining how much information an employee can access. For example, computer data/file access can be limited to just viewing the files, having no access to some files whatsoever, or to be able to modify and create files depending on an employee’s position and status.

Any organization, business, or enterprise that seeks to improve its security should definitely consider implementing RBAC. There are multiple benefits to this kind of enterprise role management. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Improved security levels
  • In-depth defense
  • Simple User Management
  • Duty separation
  • Strong focus on Teams
  • Compliance to Audit and Regulatory requirements

There are a couple of different levels or types of role based access control, but the three that are recognized by the NIST/ANSI/INCITS RBAC standard from 2004 are the hierarchical RBAC type, the core RBAC type, and the constrained RBAC type.

SaaS user management can greatly benefit from RBAC. There are many different designations that a SaaS enterprise can give to its users, and RBAC can help out with SaaS security monitoring by making things a lot more simple and clear. 

Role based access control best practices

Implementing RBAC can be a very difficult task to accomplish. Many enterprises choose to not implement it due to this level of difficulty, much to their detriment. There are plenty of reasons to agree with these companies, however… not implementing RBAC can pose quite the security risk. 

There are multiple role based permissions best practices to keep in your mind when doing such a difficult task:

  • Performing a needs analysis exercise – In the exercises, the enterprise should examine job functions, employees performing the functions, the supporting technologies, audit and regulatory requirements, supporting business processes as well as the current security levels of the enterprise.
  • Identifying the scope of RBAC implementation – If an enterprise identifies a narrow scope of an RBAC program implementation, they can then focus on and change their environment. When narrowing down the scope, an enterprise should include and take a look at financial, HR, order processing, and information security systems. 
  • Defining the roles of an RBAC – This is probably the most daunting and difficult task to complete when implementing RBAC. However, if the company did the needs analysis exercise well, it should significantly ease this process. The information gathered in the exercise will allow an enterprise to understand how their various employees perform, thus giving them the necessary details for determining their roles.
  • Implementing and rollout of the RBAC authorization – This is a pretty straightforward and simple step, and it should be paced accordingly to not overwhelm the enterprise. Identifying a core group of employees and implementing them into various roles first is a pretty good way of ensuring good pacing and little disruption to the business processes. 

It goes without saying that implementing RBAC is a significant boon and boost to the security of any company, and can improve SaaS privacy and various other security systems, especially if an enterprise has a lot of employees or contacts with third parties.