As we increasingly rely on digital networks, protecting sensitive data has become more critical. Whether it’s personal or business information, data security is paramount. However, when we think of data security, we often focus on encryption or firewalls, overlooking two essential components- access control and authorization. But why are these two elements so crucial? What do they entail? And how can we implement them effectively? In this blog post, we’ll explore these issues in depth, discussing the importance of access control and authorization. You can also learn about integrating a data governance initiative and how a data governance framework can enhance our data security efforts.
What Is Access Control?
Access controls refer to the technical and administrative measures restricting access to systems and data. Access control is enacted on multiple levels, including physical, digital, or both.
Physical access control implementations include door locks to restrict physical entry to server rooms, vaults, or other locations where sensitive data is stored. Digital access controls, on the other hand, use technologies like firewalls, encryption, and passwords to limit access to digital systems and data.
One of the main goals of access control is to protect data from unauthorized access. Access controls can be implemented for different levels of data, starting from minimal access levels to more privileged ones. Each access control level must be sufficiently secure to ensure that only users with legitimate access rights can access and modify data.
Organizations must implement a robust access control and data governance framework to protect sensitive information. Access control allows companies to limit who can access their data, while data governance ensures that data remains accurate, consistent, and secure.
Types Of Access Control
Three common types of access control systems are used for data security: discretionary access control, mandatory access control, and role-based access control.
Discretionary access control (DAC) allows the owner of a file or resource to determine who can access it.
On the other hand, mandatory access control (MAC) is used in high-security environments where the system determines who can access the data based on the level of trust assigned to the user or process.
Role-based access control (RBAC) is perhaps the most common access control system, which determines access based on the job title or role of the user.
Authentication Vs. Authorization
While both terms are often used interchangeably, it’s essential to understand the difference between authentication and authorization.
Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user, while authorization comes after authentication and determines what that user can do. In other words, authentication is the process of confirming who the user is.
On the other hand, authorization allows or denies access based on the user’s identity and assigned privileges. Typically, authorization is performed after an access request is vetted by the access control system.
Authorization must be secure and structured and provide a record of each access. Moreover, it should ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information, protecting data at rest and in motion.
In addition to role-based access control, granular authorization offers another control layer.
Granular authorization allows specific permissions to be granted to a user or entity for a particular data set. For example, rather than providing blanket access to a particular folder, granular authorization can allow access to only specific files within that folder.
This level of control ensures that minimum access is given to all users and information remains secure.
Access controls and authorization processes are essential for managing data security. Organizations can ensure sensitive data remains secure with the right access control policy, granular authorization, and proper authentication. While there are many best practices for maintaining access controls, it’s important to remember that complacency can lead to data breaches. By continuously monitoring and auditing access logs and conducting regular access reviews, organizations can stay ahead of potential threats and keep their data safe.
Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash
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