Role-Based Access Control

Having the right access controls is essential for meeting statutory and regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality. RBAC helps organizations streamline their access control policies to achieve this goal.

Start by doing a bottom-up analysis of actual access privileges in your organization. This will provide the foundation for establishing roles.

Create an RBAC Strategy

A good role-based access control implementation reduces the chances of a breach by restricting access to critical data and applications. It can also ensure that sensitive information falls into the right hands, meeting compliance standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and protecting personal data and corporate IP.

RBAC involves creating roles that provide users with a set of permissions. These are then assigned to individuals who may take any action the role permits. The key to a successful RBAC strategy is ensuring that the roles are properly defined and that the underlying permissions adhere to the principle of least privilege.

It’s also important to test the system thoroughly, ensuring that each role has all the necessary permissions and that the UI is simple and clear. Budibase lets you preview apps as they appear in different roles, helping you test and verify your RBAC implementation before deploying it in production. This helps you to spot problems like overly generous permissions, inconsistencies between roles, or unnecessary permissions that hackers can exploit.

Identify Roles

Roles are collections of permissions a user receives, typically through a hierarchy. They map to specific job functions and ensure employees have the right access to data and applications they need to do their jobs. This improves security posture, helps meet compliance requirements for confidentiality, availability, and privacy, and reduces operational overhead.

To identify the right roles, begin with a bottom-up analysis of actual access privileges in your system. This will help you identify the current level of access granted to each user, allowing you to see whether those levels are aligned with the business requirements defined by stakeholders.

Next, group the workforce into roles based on shared access needs. This will help you to avoid the common pitfalls of role explosion and reliance on exceptions. For example, it’s important to create a role for a customer service rep that will allow them to view but not edit the customer database. This will protect against employees accidentally deleting or changing information in the database. This will also allow you to enforce separation of duties.

Read Also – The Benefits of Implementing an NGFW in Your Network Security Strategy

Create Security Groups

Security groups determine the inbound and outbound access for virtual private cloud (VPC) instances. Each security group has a name and description. Names help you distinguish groups, and descriptions make finding the security group in your account menus easier.

Each security group has a set of rules that dictate the access granted to instances in the VPC. The security group rules can be created with the least privilege principle. For example, a security group could contain only those permissions needed for a specific task, such as launching a web server in your VPC.

Avoid overly broad security group rules, as these can increase the attack surface for your VPC. In addition, ensure you have a process to monitor and keep unused security groups in check (e.g., removing them after a project is completed). Limit the number of people or IAM roles that can modify security groups, which can also create risk. 

Assign Users to Roles

Roles allow administrators to preemptively set rules that govern access instead of making on-the-fly decisions and relying on a patchwork of permissions. This reduces the risk of unauthorized users or employees accessing information or programs they shouldn’t have. It also makes it easier to maintain, demonstrate and extend regulatory compliance.

For example, a software engineer might need to access all of the company’s programming tools but only needs to see the data in human resources files or the customer database. Likewise, a marketing employee might need to view the internal communications tools but doesn’t need to see customer records or sales reports.

This approach helps protect sensitive information, limits network exposure and prevents unauthorized system access. It is a proven method for managing user access, one of the most common methods used in SaaS setups today. To implement RBAC, perform a bottom-up analysis of actual access rights in your system. This will give you a clear understanding of what needs to be parsed into roles to meet your business requirements.

Assign Permissions

Roles provide an easy and effective way to define permissions that allow employees to perform their jobs. With the help of security teams, IT managers should create and maintain a set of roles tailored to organizational needs. Roles should also be reassessed regularly as the organization and its systems evolve.

Unlike the default discretionary access control (DAC), which gives end-users complete control over their programs, a role-based approach limits data access and protects critical business applications and files. By limiting the number of privileges per user, an RBAC system can also reduce administrative overhead and enhance security compliance.

However, role-based access control is not a comprehensive solution to data security since it conflates who the user is with what access they should have. An attribute-based access control (ABAC) model offers more flexibility and scalability by separating these variables. Using the previous example of accounting departments, an ABAC policy would grant access to the accountant responsible for contracts but deny access to the accountant who handles W-9s.

Read Also – The Importance of Incident Response Plan in Business Cybersecurity