Guide: Access Control

Policy-Based Access Control

The drive for cloud technology’s growth encompasses digital transformation, allowing businesses to cooperate more effectively, unleash new value streams, and increase security. In recent years, IT teams have become increasingly essential to fulfill its inter-and intra-enterprise security requirements with the evolving digital world.

Organizations can use policy-based access control (PBAC) to regulate data flow and user access dynamically. It employs digital policies consisting of logical rules to maintain and assess user access. It can also scale and create the system on top of the current IAM while delivering a context-based policy-based access control solution.

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This is part of our essential guide to access control.

What Is Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC)?

Attributes are used in Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC) to implement access constraints based on business policies dynamically. Unlike static types of authorization such as Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), PBAC allows you to quickly alter entitlements in response to new rules or business policy without auditing and changing roles across the organization. This feature guarantees that assets do not become jeopardized and that requirements get followed.


Additionally, business owners get empowered by using policies to regulate permission because they can guarantee that data, resources, and other assets are utilized safely as critical assets. The Axiomatics Policy Server is a centralized repository for access control policies that may be stored and enforced.

Is PBAC the Same as ABAC?

In terms of enforcing regulations using characteristics, PBAC and ABAC are nearly identical. In this perspective, the main distinction is between the “ends” of the access control model stack: rules that tell the authorization engine what to do and attributes that describe how to do it.


IAM managers and architects who are tired of managing thousands of roles for hundreds of users require more efficient authorizing enterprise assets. Traditional Role-Based Access Control techniques sometimes fail because they are bloated with legacy users and prone to ‘role explosion.’ Something new is required that provides users with access to what they need when needed, which is where ABAC enters.


Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) is a fine-grained access management method. A person, action, resource, or environment is assigned defined rules that determine whether an access request to specific information is approved or denied. Even though Attribute-Based Access Control appears to be the logical solution, it has its own set of problems. The following are the advantages of PBAC over ABAC:


  • Coding in plain language
  • Flexible enough to be utilized as a Fine or Coarse-Grained Solution
  • Visibility and transparency for the business team


However, it is important to note that often they are referencing the exact same process, and the difference is merely semantic (i.e. the policies are using attributes / the attributes are being used in policies).


Computer experts created RBAC in 1992 to solve security flaws in computers. RBAC assigns roles to each organizational function, grants each part access to certain resources, and links users to roles.


RBAC has more flexibility thanks to roles than it does thanks to ACL. When the position permissions change, the permissions of other users who have that role are also updated. When a user’s role changes, their permissions change as well.


Since the 1990s, RBAC has dominated access control. Still, it no longer meets the demands of today’s fast-paced, varied, cloud-based organizations.


PBAC platforms, on the other hand, provide contextual, fine-grained access control, extensive lifecycle management, zero trust architecture, and total visibility, as well as an easy-to-use GUI for designing and administering complicated access rules without having to write code. PBAC provides the finest access control for cybersecurity demands and takes a proactive approach to compliance. All of this gets done without interfering with regular users’ productivity.

Can You Implement PBAC Alongside RBAC?

As long as an RBAC system allows a person to have various roles, it should accomplish some PBAC benefits (such as modularity) inside that system. When deciding between RBAC and PBAC, consider that PBAC can get built to behave like RBAC more consistently than the other way around.

PBAC Examples

Technology Adaptability

The consuming application should be agonistic to PBAC. The organization establishes policies that all apps should follow, regardless of their operations or technological implementations. The same rules will apply to XACML requests/responses or comparable responses to the backend app, as well as the OAuth token, which grants access to the web front-executing end’s function.

Adaptable Building Blocks

PBAC’s building blocks are the bits of information, data, and so on that it uses to make access choices. The PBAC technique provides a flexible solution for its policy building blocks, allowing any existing data to be used as part of the decision-making process. PBAC allows for flexible mapping of identities and authorization data and supports preset or configurable data sources.

Support for the Organization's Scalability

PBAC must be scalable throughout the whole enterprise. According to the ‘ Write once, use it many times ‘ technique, it should be written once and used many times. Once created, these rules should be adaptable and expandable to accommodate larger groups. The policies should be compliant and linked with organizational norms, whether one or a thousand.

Organizational Standards-Compliant

A good PBAC system will display the names, activities, and data that each policy statement affects, giving compliance employees the complete picture that they need. The PBAC system and configuration should adhere to the organization’s norms and regulations, allowing for seamless transfer and access for all stakeholders.

Improved Visibility and Control

Today’s businesses must cope with collaboration and workers working from remote locations. IT staff have less visibility and control over user activity and access controls. PBAC should provide a single solution for controlling, consolidating, and simplifying access rights by centralizing these, regardless of where the company maintains the data.


PBAC is a user access control framework that assesses users’ access depending on the organization’s policies. Enterprises manage responsibilities across several locations, teams, and levels. The article has shown that PBAC is better than both ABAC and RBAC due to its transparency, flexibility, the ability to be coded in plain language, and other features.


Organizations may use PBAC to access a sophisticated framework for centrally managing rights and providing corporate assurance in a scalable solution. PBAC combines semantic security risk management with a dynamic policy framework to reduce security threats across current service-oriented application architectures, whether deployed on-premises or in the cloud. It lets IT teams think about security problems in business terms.

PBAC, ABAC & RBAC With Satori

Satori provides organizations with the best of all worlds when it comes to securing data access and creating data access control policies. Read more here how you can implement fine-grained access control to all your data platforms using Satori.

Last updated on

January 25, 2022

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