Access control is one of - if not the - most essential component of any effective physical or cyber security solution. Every locked door or password-protected user account is a form of access control. Its foremost purpose is authentication and authorization to verify who a user is and ensure the user has the appropriate level of access to data and resources.
What is access control?
Access control is the selective restriction of access for an individual or entity to a physical location or computer systems, networks, files, and data.
For businesses and organizations that want to keep their data secure - be it within physical and/or virtual premises - access control is a necessity. Access control can automatically and seamlessly allow controlled access to those with specific access rights, at certain times of day, and other parameters.
How does access control work?
Access control first verifies the identity of a user through an authentication method such as password or facial recognition and then grants level or type of access using authorization enforcement mechanisms such as access control policies on a network.
Authentication of a user’s identity can be done using a username with a password, personal identification number (PIN), token, or biometric data (such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans). This is the step in which the access control system understands who is trying to gain access. If the user identity matches up with a profile in the access control database, then it will move onto the authentication stage. If it does not, then the individual will not be allowed any further.
It is worth noting that the more secure access control systems will employ several different mechanisms for authentication. This is called two-step authentication, two-step verification, or multifactor authentication. In such cases, the individual will be requested to show something only the user knows along with something only the user has. For example, a safe would require both a code (something the user knows) and a key (something a user has), or logging onto internet banking may require a password or PIN as well as a mobile phone to receive a code via SMS.
After the individual has been authenticated, the access control system will grant access based on the level of authorization they have been provided in their profile. This could be anything from full access granted to a senior or top-level executive, or limited access granted to a temporary worker.
What does access control offer businesses?
Access control is extremely useful for businesses of all sizes. At the most fundamental level, they minimize the risk from authorized and unregulated access. Crimes like data theft and ransomware attacks are rendered significantly harder, while your company or client data will be held in a much more secure location. This is paramount if your organization deals with sensitive data like credit cards and other personal information.
On a deeper level, access control systems can hugely bolster your overall security systems, particularly in today’s digital era. Waves of businesses are turning towards cloud-based solutions thanks to their efficiency and in order to stay competitive, but only the most tech-savvy understand the security risks that come in their wake.
Modern access control systems allow organizations to quickly and automatically allocate access to designated personnel at a highly intricate and detailed level. Varying levels of access can mean only what is absolutely required can be accessed with other sensitive datasets and information being held securely behind it.
However, access control systems are not completely failsafe and still require regular oversight. Especially in the world of cybercrime, attacks are unfortunately now commonplace, even amongst smaller businesses. Hackers are well aware that even though large, multinational brands may be the bigger fish to catch, smaller companies often have sub-par security systems.
In fact, depending on the nature of what you are trying to limit access to, it is also a good idea to have other levels of defense behind an access control system. In the world of cyber security, for example, vendors like Sangfor would always recommend pairing your access control system with other anti-virus softwares and endpoint security tools.
In such a case, multi-factor authentication will help limit the number of successful attacks that make it past your access control system. Stopping these kinds of attacks at the access control level is the best case scenario, and means they are serving their purpose. However, organizations and individuals need to be aware of the vulnerabilities in the access control systems such as when an authorized person no longer works for the organization or when their password or PIN may have been compromised.
What are the different types of access control?
There are different types of access control designed for specific access requirements. There are four common types of access control systems:
- Mandatory access control
Mandatory access control (MAC) is the most secure. MAC is based on the premise that no single person has control over the authorization levels granted to individuals. Rather, these rights are regulated by a central authority. For this reason, they are often used in governmental or military applications.
- Discretionary access control
Discretionary access control (DAC) does not have a centralized authority controlling the access rights of user profiles. Instead, the owner or administrators of the resource or data controls what level of access is granted. This is type of system is normally employed by businesses and organizations.
- Role-based access control
In a role-based access control (RBAC) system, authorization is granted based on preset roles. For example, admin staff will have a certain level of access to some systems and no access to production systems, while manufacturing staff will have access to operational systems but not financial systems or data.
- Rule-based access control
Rule-based access control (RAC) systems allow a more customizable way of enabling access. If you want to limit access to certain times of day, days of the week, locations, or for specific individuals, a rule-based access control system is the way to go.
Sangfor Access Control
Sangfor offers a state-of-the-art cyber security access control system for businesses of all sizes. The internet has become a cornerstone of our daily lives, but it is paramount to protect yourself against the threats that come from it. For businesses that handle sensitive data through cloud-based applications by remote workers, the importance is multiplied.
Sangfor Access is a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) cloud-based access control solution that helps bring your workers together within a highly secure environment. Those working within business premises and on your network will automatically have their traffic directed through Sangfor Access, while any remote workers are required to install a client on their device to utilize Sangfor Access. Like other access control solutions, Sangfor Access will identify and authenticate the user, and then grant the appropriate level of authorization to data and resources based on preset user profiles.
Sangfor Access provides different access modules including Sangfor Internet Access, Sangfor Private Access, and Sangfor Analytics Platform. Sangfor Access will allow your business to unlock greater productivity levels and greatly boost security. The solution is easy to use, highly scalable, and reliable. Get in touch with us to learn more about Sangfor Access.