Guide: Access Control

Access Control: An Essential Guide

Control is a valuable asset in any industry. Control gives you access to information, funding, and power, which you can use in diverse ways. That root control makes Access Control a useful technique for businesses throughout all industries.

Access control is describing the steps taken for limiting who has access to sensitive data. Data security is ensured through an access control gateway as only those whose identities have gotten validated can access company data.

This article will explore what is Access Control in Security, as well as its use.

In this article:

Access Control Definition

Access control is a security approach that regulates who can view or utilize resources in a computing context. It is a basic security concept that reduces the risk to the company or organization.


Access control solutions execute identification, authentication, and authorization of people and entities by analyzing required login credentials, such as passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric scans, security tokens, or other authentication elements. Moreover, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which needs two or more authentication factors, is frequently used to defend access control systems as part of a layered defense.

Access Control List Definition

An Access Control List (ACL) is a set of rules that determine whether or not specific digital environments are accessible. ACLs get divided into two categories:


  • Filesystem ACLs: Access to files and directories gets controlled by filesystem ACLs. Filesystem ACLs notify operating systems to access the system and its privileges.
  • Networking ACLs: Networking ACLs control who has access to the network. ACLs in networking tell routers and switches which types of traffic and activities get permitted on the network.


Originally, ACLs were the only way to achieve firewall protection. Today, there are many types of firewalls and alternatives to ACLs, the most prominent of which is Data Access Control.

Data Access Control Meaning

Data Access Control enables businesses to grant consumers, employees, and third parties access to company data while maintaining security, privacy, and compliance. Security best practices and governmental regulations set these standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and NIST set these standards. These requirements frequently demand firms to audit and restrict who has access to sensitive information.

Types of Access Control

Not all access control systems are created equal. There are four main access control models to restrict access to critical company data. There are advantages and disadvantages to anything, so companies must think about their specific security needs and choose the type of access control that best suits them.

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

A company owner can decide how many people have access to a certain location using a Discretionary Access Control (DAC) system. A list of authorized users gets kept at each access control point. When a keycard gets swiped, a PIN gets punched, or a scanner registers a fingerprint, the system compares the credential to the list and grants or refuses access based on the previously established permissions.


Compared to other types of access control, DAC systems are the most versatile and offer the maximum number of allowances. Because it is the most adaptable, it is also the least secure, especially when compared to other types, such as Mandatory Access Control (MAC) systems.

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

On the other hand, Mandatory Access Control (MAC) systems are the most secure access control.


The government frequently uses the design and implementation of MAC, which is considered the strictest of all levels of security. To control access to files or resources, it employs a hierarchical structure. The settings of a system administrator control the access to resource objects in a MAC environment. These settings indicate that the operating system controls access to resource objects based on the parameters configured by the system administrator. Thus, users are unable to adjust the access control of a resource.


Although Mandatory Access Control systems are the tightest and secure access control, they are also the least flexible. As a result, MAC systems often get utilized by businesses and government entities that require the highest levels of security.

Rule-Based Access Control

Rule-based access control, not to be confused with the other “RBAC,” is frequently used as an add-on to different types of access control. In addition to the kind of access control you pick, rule-based access control can adjust permissions based on a set of rules specified by the administrator.

Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC)

Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC) is a management system allowing access based on attributes rather than a user’s rights following authentication. The end-user must prove claims regarding their characteristics to the access control engine. A policy for attribute-based access control outlines which you must meet allegations to provide access to a resource. It is not necessarily essential to authenticate or identify the user in ABAC; all required is that they have the attribute.


The qualities or values of a component involved in an access event are attributes. Attribute-based access control compares these components’ features against the rules. These rules specify which attribute combinations get permitted for the subject to successfully conduct an action with the object.


Every ABAC solution may analyze attributes inside an environment and enforce rules and relationships based on how they interact in that environment. When determining whether certain access conditions are permitted, policies take qualities into account when deciding whether or not certain access conditions are allowed.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-based Access Control (RBAC) is gradually becoming the most prevalent access control method. When system administrators need to give permissions based on organizational responsibilities rather than individual user accounts inside an organization, RBAC, also known as non-discretionary access control, is employed. It provides a chance for the company to address the idea of “least privilege,” which limits an individual’s access to only what is required for performing their job.


ABAC (attribute-based access control) is an authorization paradigm that determines access based on attributes or characteristics rather than roles. The goal of ABAC is to safeguard assets like data, network devices, and IT resources from unauthorized users and actions—those that do not meet the requirements of an organization’s security policies.


ABAC, which evolved from simple access control lists and role-based access control (RBAC), has become a popular logical access control in the last decade.


One is static, and the other is dynamic, a significant distinction between RBAC and ABAC. RBAC determines who has access to certain information based on roles, often similar across an organization. On the other hand, ABAC employs more dynamic properties, such as those that change when a user accesses a resource from a new device or IP address.


In general, companies should utilize RBAC first before implementing ABAC access control if RBAC is sufficient. Neither of these access control systems is a filter, with ABAC being the more difficult of the two and requiring more processing power and time. In the absence of a pressing need, using a more powerful filter and incurring the related resource investment makes little sense.


In either case, it is a good idea that companies plan out their directory data and access procedures ahead of time to prevent using unnecessary filters or making things too complex.


When used together, RBAC and ABAC can establish a hierarchical access control system, with RBAC protocols enforcing broad access and ABAC controlling more nuanced access. Alternatively, the system might use RBAC to determine who has access to a resource before using ABAC to determine what they can do with it and when they can use it.

Fine-Grained Access Control

For businesses of all kinds, data has never been more vital or sensitive. As the digital revolution has surpassed anything before it, a great deal of effort has gone into developing complex access control systems that attempt to maintain order while mitigating some of the dangers associated with data breaches, corruption, and other issues. As a result, fine-grained access control has emerged.


Fine-grained access control is a means of limiting access to specific information. Fine-grained access control, as opposed to generic access control, also known as coarse-grained access control, uses more subtle and changeable ways of granting access.


Fine-grained access control gets most commonly used in cloud computing, where many data sources get kept together. It allows each data item to have its own set of access policies. These criteria can be based on various factors, such as the person’s function requesting access and the data’s intended use.


For risk mitigation, you must implement data access control. However, there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to data access control. Thus, each company must select the most suited system to its needs and objectives.

Satori Simplifies Database Access Control

Satori, the DataSecOps platform, provides a security layer for data access, whether it’s databases, data warehouses, or data lakes. Among the capabilities you will enjoy are:


Last updated on

January 12, 2022

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