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Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

The main purpose of access control is to allow only authorised individuals to enter a property or a specific area inside it.

Traditional locks and metal keys have been the gold standard of access control for many years; however, modern home and business owners now want more. They want additional security when it comes to limiting unauthorised access, in addition to being able to monitor and manage access.

Due to this reason, traditional locking mechanisms have now given way to electronic access control systems that provide better security and control.

Nowadays, instead of metal keys, people carry around key cards or fobs, or use codes, biometrics, or their smartphone to gain access through an electronically locked door.

These systems are made up of various components that include door hardware, electronic locks, door readers, credentials, control panel and software, users, and system administrators.

There are different types of access control systems that work in different ways to restrict access within your property. They include:

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

In this article, we will focus on Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), its advantages and disadvantages, uses, examples, and much more. Read on to find out:

WHY IS ACCESS CONTROL IMPORTANT?

Other than the obvious reason for adding an extra layer of security to your property, there are several reasons why you should consider investing in an access control system for your home and business.

Physical security

Access control systems prevent unauthorised individuals from accessing your property and give you more control over its management.

It makes sure that the processes are regulated and both external and internal threats are managed and prevented.

In addition to providing better access control and visitor management, these systems act as a huge deterrent against intrusions since breaking into an access-controlled property is much more difficult than through a traditionally locked door.

It is also much easier to keep a check on the occupants of a building, as well as the employees, by knowing where they are and when, and being alerted every time someone tries to access an area that they shouldn’t be accessing.

Audit trails

Access control systems enable tracking and recordkeeping for all access-related activities by logging all the events being carried out.

The best systems are fully automated and provide detailed reports that help with compliance and audit requirements.

They automatically log which areas are accessed by which users, in addition to any denied attempts, and record the time each user spent inside.

This can be extremely beneficial for audit purposes, especially for instances such as break-ins, theft, fraud, vandalism, and other similar incidents.

In an office setting, this helps employers know if an employee is habitually late to work or is trying to gain access to a restricted area.

In the event of a security incident, the accurate records provided by the system help put together a timeline that helps trace who had access to the area where the incident occurred, along with precise timestamps.

Remote access

Modern access control systems allow remote access with full functionality via a smart device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Property owners don’t have to be present on-site to keep an eye on access control and can give or withdraw access from afar, lock or unlock the entire system, and track every movement back at the premises.

Access control systems can also integrate with other systems, such as intruder alarms, CCTV cameras, fire alarms, lift control, elevator dispatch, HR and business management systems, visitor management systems, and car park systems to provide you with a more holistic approach.

They can be used to control and monitor multiple remote locations from a centralised point and can help increase efficiency and punctuality by removing manual timesheets.

TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL

Based on access permissions and their management within an organisation, there are three ways that access control can be managed within a property.

Not all are equal and you need to choose the right one according to the nature of your property, the number of users, and the level of security required.

To do so, you need to understand how they work and how they are different from each other. The three types of access control include:

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

With Discretionary Access Control (DAC), the decision-making power lies with the end-user who has the means to determine the security level by granting access to other users in the system, such as by letting them borrow their key card or telling them the access code.

This makes these systems unsuitable for large premises and high-security properties where access permissions and policies must be delegated and monitored.

Discretionary Access Control is best suited for properties that require the most flexibility and ease of use, and for organisations where a high level of security is not required. Some common use-cases include start-ups, businesses, and schools and coaching centres with one or two access points.

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory Access Control (MAC) is ideal for properties with an increased emphasis on security and confidentiality, such as government buildings, healthcare facilities, banks and financial institutions, and military projects.

It is a non-discretionary system that provides the highest level of security and the most restrictive protections.

It reserves control over the access policies and permissions to a centralised security administration, where the end-users have no say and cannot change them to access different areas of the property.

It grants access based on a need-to-know basis and delivers a higher level of security compared to Discretionary Access Control (DAC).

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is the most commonly used and sought-after access control system, both in residential and commercial properties.

With this system, access for the users is determined by the system administrator and is based on the user’s role within the household or organisation, along with the limitations of their job description.

What this means is that instead of the system administrator assigning access permissions to multiple users within the system, they simply assign permissions to the specific job roles and titles.

ROLE-BASED ACCESS CONTROL (RBAC): DEFINITION

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) refers to a system where an organisation’s management control access within certain areas based on the position of the user and their role within the organisation.

In a business setting, an RBAC system uses an employee’s position within the company to determine which information must be shared with them and the areas in the building that they must be allowed to access.

The roles may be categorised according to the job responsibilities of the individuals, for instance, data centres and control rooms should only be accessible to the technical team, and restricted and high-security areas only to the administration.

There are several uses of Role-Based Access Control systems in various industries as they provide a good balance between ease of use, flexibility, and security.

Some common places where they are used include commercial and residential flats, offices, banks and financial institutions, hotels, hostels, warehouses, educational institutions, and many more.

RBAC ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

Following are the advantages of using role-based access control:

  • Flexibility: since the access permissions are assigned to the roles and not the people, any modifications to the organisational structure will be easily applied to all the users when the corresponding role is modified.
  • Reduced administrative work: with the process of individually assigning permissions rendered obsolete with this system, it puts less burden on the administration and is much quicker to manage.
  • Less room for errors: assigning permissions individually is a complex process with room for errors compared to RBAC where the access permissions are role-based.
  • Increased efficiency: reducing both the amount of work and error rate not only makes the process of access control much easier but also increases efficiency within the organisation with no need for manual modifications, error handling, and individual access permission requests.
  • Security: the perfect balance between ease-of-use and security, RBAC systems prevent you from giving more permissions than needed.
  • Transparency: the access permissions are clear and easy to understand for the users since they are based on their roles and they know what to expect.

Following are the disadvantages of using role-based access control:

  • Labour-intensive setup: translating an organisational hierarchy into an access control model requires a lot of work and can be a bit time-consuming and labour-intensive to set up.
  • Temporary permissions: assigning users temporary access permissions can be easy to forget to revoke later on when compared to assigning permissions individually.
  • Application: it is not the best solution for small companies since it can be difficult to create and maintain roles, which is why it is used only when there are a certain number of roles and users. Even in large companies with several employees and roles, it may be difficult to set up and you may end up creating 100 different groups.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACCESS CONTROL?

When it comes to choosing the right access control, there is a no “one size fits all” approach. The selection depends on several factors and you need to choose one that suits your unique needs and requirements.

If you are looking for flexibility and ease of use, go for a Discretionary Access Control (DAC) system. For maximum security, a Mandatory Access Control (MAC) system would be best. If you want a balance of security and ease of use, you may consider Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Some factors to consider include the nature of your property, the number of users on the system, and the existing security procedures within the organisation. Here are a few basic questions that you must ask yourself before making the decision:

Who will manage the system?

Before investing in an access control system for your property, the owners and managers need to decide who will manage the system and help put operational policies into place. This responsibility must cover all aspects of the system including protocols to follow when hiring recruits, firing employees, and activating and deactivating user access privileges.

How many areas need access control?

Identifying the areas that need access control is necessary since it would determine the size and complexity of the system. Some areas may be more high-risk than others and require added security in the form of two-factor authentication.

How many users are on the system?

The number of users is an important aspect since it would set the foundation for the type of system along with the level of security required. For smaller organisations with few employees, a DAC system would be a good option, whereas a larger organisation with many users would benefit more from an RBAC system.

What level of security is required?

Determining the level of security is a crucial part of choosing the right access control type since they all differ in terms of the level of control, management, and strictness. A MAC system would be best suited for a high-risk, high-security property due to its stringent processes.

Which authentication method would work best?

There are several authentication methods for access control systems, including access cards, key fobs, keypads, biometrics, and mobile access control. Deciding which one is suitable for your needs depends on the level of security you require, the size of the property, and the number of users.

Which functions and integrations are required?

Access control systems come with a range of functions such as access reporting, real-time notifications, and remote monitoring via computer or mobile. You must select the features your property requires and have a custom-made solution for your needs. Access control can also be integrated with other security systems such as burglar alarmsCCTV systems, and fire alarms to provide a more comprehensive security solution.

How scalable is the system?

It’s always good to think ahead. When choosing an access control system, it is best to think about future growth and business outlook for the next 5 to 10 years. A flexible and scalable system would allow the system to accommodate growth in terms of the property size and number of users.

CONTACT CALDER SECURITY

Calder Security provides complete access control system services for homes and businesses that include professional installation, maintenance, and repair.

We’ve been working in the security industry since 1976 and partner with only the best brands. Our MLA approved locksmiths can advise you on the best type of system for your property by helping you assess your security needs and requirements.

Because an access control system operates the locking and unlocking mechanism of your door, installation must be completed properly by someone with detailed knowledge of how these systems work.

We are SSAIB approved installers and can work with all types of access control systems including intercom, proximity fob, card swipe, and keypad. We also offer biometric systems that use fingerprints or retina scans.

Access control systems are very reliable and will last a long time. But like any technology, they require periodic maintenance to continue working as they should.

We conduct annual servicing to keep your system working well and give it a full check including checking the battery strength, power supply, and connections. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises further down the line.

While generally very reliable, sometimes problems may occur with access control systems that can potentially compromise the security of your property.

Common issues include simple wear and tear or faults with the power supply or batteries, and to preserve the security of your property, you need to get the problems fixed ASAP.

We operate a 24-hour emergency service run by qualified security specialist engineers who understand access systems and can resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 for a quick consultation and quote for our state-of-the-art access control systems that are right for your property!

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash