What are Access Control Systems and Does Your Business Need One?

By June 1, 2021July 4th, 2021Access Control
Florida Access Control Systems by Security Ox

The last decade has demonstrated how important security is, and how vulnerable it can be even at large companies. Whether you are protecting proprietary secrets, running data servers, or storing your products, managing authorized access is critical. Having the right access control measures implemented for your business in Florida will keep your company safe and able to grow.


What are Access Control Systems?

AC is quite simple in concept, but can be a little complex in implementation. The basic concept is to limit access to only those who have authorized access. This is not limited to physical access, such as security checkpoints and locked doors. Also included is the access points on the digital infrastructure of your systems.

We have all seen the AC failures over the last decade. Some of the largest companies, and even branches of the federal government, having significant data breaches. This teaches us that every business needs to take seriously the role of effective AC, and work to maintain its integrity. While some companies have the resources to implement and maintain AC in-house, most companies partner with a professional security firm like Security Ox.


Why are They Important?

Beyond the basic idea of security goes beyond keeping your customer and employee data safe, or keep your products and supplies secure. Rather, many companies and organizations have regulatory requirements for implementing secure AC.

HIPAA: Any health organization knows the rules around HIPAA in terms of what staff must do to protect private health information. However, the HIPAA security rules also regulates what kind of physical and electronic AC a company must use.

ISO 27001: This is a certification companies seek that shows their clientele they have taken every measure possible to protect against cyberattacks. It requires management to systematically examine and audit their security protocols, how they may be attacked, and their cyber threats and vulnerabilities. It also lays out a strategy to mitigate risk and transfer protocols to further protect information and guarantee business continuity.

PCI DSS: Requires physical restriction to buildings and logical access to restrict digital access. It also requires security solutions to record data in an auditable manner.

SOC 2: Lays out the auditing procedure for third-party vendor to protect sensitive data and manage breaches. SOC 2 certification ensures two-factor authentication and data encryption.


What Makes Up Good Access Control?

AC is not as simple as adding a lock to a door or getting an SSL for your website. It actually is made up of five basic components.

  1. Authentication: Simply authenticating the person or website seeking access to your systems or files.
  2. Authorization: Managing the level of access a particular user has to your data or facility.
  3. Access: Once authenticated and authorized, the user gains access to the appropriate assets.
  4. Manage: Continually adding and modifying authenticated users and their level of access.
  5. Audit: Frequently reviewing authenticated users and their authorization rights. This helps keep people restricted to the data and places they need, to limit risk if their access is compromised.


How Does It Work?

Implementation of AC is accomplished through two primary methods: physical and logical access controls.

Physical controls are what most people think of in terms of locked doors. This may use keys, access cards, key fobs, or even biometrics. This physically keeps people away from assets they are not authorized to access.

Logical controls limit digital access to information assets. This may be as simple as a password or pin. It may also include a biometric, access card or key fob to quickly access the system.

For systems that require additional security, a combination of controls may be used. For instance, it may require swiping an access card, along with entering a pin. Some websites have gone to two-factor authentication, with includes a password, then a code sent to the user’s cell phone.


Types of Access Control

Beyond the technology deployed to manage your AC system, there are several ways to manage it. These are the main types you may encounter. Determining which control systems are best for your situation may be difficult, and is where a professional security team like Security Ox comes in.

Attribute-Based Control (ABAC): This access type simply seeks to authenticate a specific claim, not necessarily a specific person. For instance, you may require a user authenticates they are an adult. If they can demonstrate this, regardless of who they are, they gain access to the resource.

Mandatory Control (MAC): This is the most common control type used by the government and military. A central authority regulates access based on multiple levels of security. MAC is a difficult control system to manage, but is a good option when protecting highly sensitive data.

Role-based Control (RBAC): RBAC is similar to MAC, but rather than assigning access based on security level, it grants access based on role. So sales may have one level of access, while engineering may have another. Accounting will have different access than human resources.

Discretionary Control (DAC): This is one of the most criticized control systems because of a lack of central control. In this system, administrators or owners set policies defining who has access to various resources. This may give the greatest flexibility for smaller businesses around Florida, but it is also the most vulnerable to unintended access rights.

Rule-Based Control: This control method utilizes a series of rules defined by the system administrator. These rules look for certain conditions to grant access to certain resources. For instance, one rule may be the time of day the resource is being access. In many systems, you may see a rule-based control in cooperating with another control, like RBAC.

Break-Glass Control: In some cases, having an emergency access account is helpful when you need to circumvent the normal control protocols. These accounts should be limited, and audited frequently for who has access to them and if they have been used.

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