Data Security
Access Models - Guide

Access Models - Guide

In computer science, authorization models refer to the methods used to determine whether a user or system can access a particular resource or perform a certain action. These models are often used in security systems to guarantee that only approved users may access sensitive information or perform certain actions.

There are several common authorization models:

  1. Role-based access control (RBAC): In this model, users are assigned certain roles, and each role is granted access to certain resources or actions based on the permissions assigned to the role.
  2. Attribute-based access control (ABAC): In this model, the user's attributes, such as their role, location, or other characteristics, are considered when granting access.
  3. Rule-based access control: In this model, access is granted based on rules that specify the conditions under which a user or system is allowed to carry out a task or have access to a particular resource.
  4. Discretionary access control (DAC): In this model, access is granted based on the discretion of the resource owner or administrator.
  5. Mandatory access control (MAC): In this model, access is granted based on the user's clearance level and resource sensitivity.

Each of these authorization models has pros and limitations of its own, and the appropriate model to use will depend on the system's specific security requirements and needs.

What is Role-based access control (RBAC), with examples?

Role-based access control (RBAC) is a type of authorization model in which users are assigned to specific roles, and each role is granted access to certain resources or actions based on the permissions assigned to the role.

For example, consider a company that maintains a database of employee records. In this company, there may be several different roles that have different levels of access to the database, such as:

  1. HR managers: These users have full access to all employee records, including the ability to view, add, modify, and delete records.
  2. HR assistants: These users have limited access to employee records, such as the ability to view and add records but not the ability to modify or delete them.
  3. Employees: These users have limited access to their own employment records, such as the ability to read their own information but not the ability to modify it.

In this example, each role has a different level of access to the employee database based on the permissions assigned to the role. This allows the company to control access to sensitive employee information and ensure that only authorized users are able to access it.

Other examples of RBAC might include a web application that has different levels of access for administrators, moderators, and regular users, or a file server that grants different levels of access to different departments or teams within an organization.

RBAC example for web application

Here is an example of how role-based access control (RBAC) might be implemented in a web application:

  1. The web application defines a set of roles, such as "admin," "moderator," and "user."
  2. The web application defines a set of permissions for each role, such as the ability to view, add, modify, or delete certain resources within the application.
  3. Users are assigned to a specific role when they sign up for the application or when their account is created.
  4. When a user attempts to access a resource within the application, the application checks the user's role and compares it to the permissions associated with that role. If the user has the necessary permissions, they are granted access to the resource. If not, they are denied access.

For example, a user with the "admin" role might have full access to all resources within the application, while a user with the "moderator" role might only have the ability to view and moderate certain resources. A user with the "user" role might only have the ability to view certain resources.

This allows the web application to control access to its resources and ensure that only authorized users are able to access and modify them.

What is ABAC with examples

Attribute-based access control (ABAC) is a type of authorization model in which access is granted based on the user's attributes, such as their role, location, or other characteristics.

For example, consider a company that has a database of customer records. In this company, access to the customer database may be controlled using ABAC, with the following rules:

  1. Sales managers in the US can view and modify all customer records.
  2. Sales managers in other regions can view all customer records, but can only modify records for customers in their own region.
  3. Sales representatives can only view and modify records for customers in their own sales territory.

In this example, access to the customer database is controlled based on the user's role (sales manager or sales representative), their location (US or another region), and their sales territory. This allows the company to fine-tune access to the customer database and ensure that only authorized users are able to access and modify sensitive customer information.

Other examples of ABAC might include a healthcare system that grants access to medical records based on the user's role (doctor, nurse, etc.) and the patient's location (inpatient, outpatient, etc.), or an online shopping website that grants access to certain features (such as the ability to leave product reviews) based on the user's membership status (premium member, regular member, etc.).

What is ABAC for web application

Here is an example of how attribute-based access control (ABAC) might be implemented in a web application:

  1. The web application defines a set of attributes for each user, such as their role, location, and membership status.
  2. The web application defines a set of permissions for each resource within the application, such as the ability to view, add, modify, or delete the resource.
  3. When a user attempts to access a resource within the application, the application checks the user's attributes and compares them to the permissions associated with the resource. If the user has the necessary attributes, they are granted access to the resource. If not, they are denied access.

For example, a user with the "admin" attribute might have full access to all resources within the application, while a user with the "moderator" attribute might only have the ability to view and moderate certain resources. A user with the "regular user" attribute might only have the ability to view certain resources.

This allows the web application to control access to its resources based on the user's attributes, rather than just their role or permissions. This can provide more granular and flexible control over access to the application's resources.

What is Rule Based access control

Rule-based access control is a type of access control system that grants or denies access to resources based on the evaluation of a set of rules or conditions.

In rule-based access control systems, the rules are typically defined by the system administrator and are used to determine whether a particular user or group of users should be allowed access to a particular resource. The rules may be based on a variety of factors, including the user's identity, role, or other attributes, as well as the resource being requested and the context in which the request is made.

Here are a few examples of rule-based access control:

  1. An organization might have a rule that only certain users with the "HR" role are allowed to access employee records.
  2. A company might have a rule that users are only allowed to access certain sensitive files from certain locations or devices.
  3. A system might have a rule that users are only allowed to access certain resources during certain times of the day.
  4. An organization might have a rule that users are only allowed to access certain resources if they have completed certain training or certification programs.

Rule-based access control systems can be effective at enforcing policies and ensuring that only authorized users have access to sensitive resources. However, they can also be inflexible and require significant maintenance and updates to keep up with changing business needs and policies.

Rule Based access control for web application

In a web application, rule-based access control can be implemented in a number of ways. Some common approaches include:

  1. Using role-based access control: In this approach, users are assigned to specific roles, and the system defines rules for what resources each role is allowed to access. For example, a user with the "HR" role might be allowed to access employee records, while a user with the "Finance" role might be allowed to access financial data.
  2. Using attribute-based access control: In this approach, the system defines rules based on user attributes, such as location, device, or network. For example, a user might only be allowed to access certain resources from a specific location or using a certain device.
  3. Using policy-based access control: In this approach, the system defines rules based on policies, which are typically defined by the system administrator. Policies might include rules about who is allowed to access certain resources, when they are allowed to access them, and from where they are allowed to access them.
  4. Using context-aware access control: In this approach, the system takes into account the context in which a request is made when evaluating access control rules. For example, a user might be allowed to access certain resources during normal business hours, but not during off-hours.

Rule-based access control can be implemented in a web application using a variety of technologies and techniques, such as application programming interfaces (APIs), access control lists (ACLs), and user authentication and authorization mechanisms. It is important to carefully design and implement a rule-based access control system to ensure that it is effective at protecting sensitive resources and enforcing policies.

Last updated on December 31, 2022