Access Control: Securing your Company’s Data

What type of employee should have access to your company’s data? Who should have access to your customers’ data? How do you prevent employees from accessing private information and what circumstances should they have access to the said information?

To protect your company’s most important asset, its data, your company must have proper data access control policies. Without it, your company’s data will be insecure and unorganized.

How to secure your company’s access control and what is a data-access control policy?

Access control is a way of restricting access to data through a password system or another form of authentication. Access control grants a select number of users to alter or see data based on their privileges. These access privileges can be set in different ways but it’s often set by the administrator.

Without access control policies, any employee could see, alter, or make changes to your company’s data. Or even worse, it could create security loopholes that can be exploited by hackers. Access control policies’ importance has increased drastically in a dramatically changing work environment where working at home is becoming the norm. Now more than ever, companies are investing millions into their access control systems for the plethora of benefits they offer.

How to enforce an access control policy

There are four common ways to enforce an access control policy; however, there are a few tidbits to consider before implementing such a policy. Companies must consider their current approach of storing data and assure the access control technology they plan to use supports the model they’re using. Also, based on the data-model they’re using, each risk factor has to be addressed by the access control policy for it to be effective.

Type of Access Control

As stated previously, the access control technology relies on the data storing model of your business. There isn’t a “best” way to store data as each way works differently based on your data-storing model.

DAC Discretionary Access Control

DAC is the most common access control policy where the administrator grants access. This model is common in small businesses with 10-50 employees. However, it’s not scalable as each employee has to be granted access by one person. In the long term, it’s a goal to have privileges set by other users.

MAC Mandatory Access Control

MAC is a model where access control is based on an information clearance policy. Instead of one single administrator, access control is given by a central authority within the company, somewhat like a government, that grants access to an employee if he/she passes the policy. This form of access control is common in government-based software engineering jobs where data privileges rely on the trustworthiness of an employee.

RBAC Role Based Access Control

Role Based access is done based on the position an employee has and the position dictates how many privileges he/she is given. Some roles in a job require less access, while others require more access. This is great when organizing the importance of each role in your company’s hierarchy which should dictate who has access to what data.

ABAC Attribute Based Access Control

Attribute based access control gives each employee specific access individually based on attributes. Unlike RBAC, the access control isn’t based on the role but the trustworthiness of an employee. The addition of attributes correlates with how long the employee has been in their position. This act is common with startups as they tend to give access based on ownership, investment, etc.

Authorization

How to determine an employee’s trustworthiness and how to assure they will secure your company’s data? The question of how to monitor and safeguard authorized data is still stumping security professionals to this day. However, this doesn’t make authorization broken; without proper authorization, a company’s data is more likely to be compromised. The authorization process isn’t a guarantee that your data will never be hacked; however, it lowers the chances of a hack from happening.

Changing your Access Control policies

In a day-of-age where long-distance working is becoming the norm, more jobs are becoming intertwined with tech and the IT environment complexity is growing by the day.  As a result, a secure, robust access control policy is mandatory. Without one, you are not just placing your company’s privacy at risk but your customers’ privacy at risk as well.