As companies undertake digital transformation projects, borders expand in both physical and digital space, access control has become more than just cards and security kiosks. The need for stronger security in all organizations has led IT leaders to explore various access control systems, including examining how different access control models and management structures could work together to benefit companies.
But before an access control management structure or model can be implemented, let's take a look at access control in the interconnected era.
What is access control and how does it work with IoT?
Access control is a security technique that regulates who or what can see or use resources in any environment. There are two main types: physical and logical. Both forms of access control refer to the entrance to restricted areas, but vary in how to define those areas.
Logical access control address who or what can get virtual access to data, digital resources and computer networks (think of password-protected documents or two-factor authentication). Meanwhile, physical access control prevents bodily access to buildings, rooms or other tangible assets (think of doors or doors with meters that close automatically).
The rise of the Internet of things has transformed access control. Security cameras, card readers, locks and more can now be connected through a single wireless network, allowing security administrators to control them from various software-based platforms. Whether you're using a smartphone to open a door or monitoring security images through a tablet from a remote location, IoT has increased mobility and access control reach in a way never seen before in previous systems.
But even when the IoT revolution changes access control, it can create an additional vulnerability for hackers looking to exploit these interconnected networks. That is where access control and management models become key.
Understanding access control and management models
There are three main models of access control:
Web-based access control systems. They are totally cloud-based and store permissions on the web instead of on a physical device. This model allows security administrators greater access and visibility in the areas they are monitoring and facilitates updating or changing security permits in real time from any location.
Access control models based on mobile devices They work the same way. With a smartphone, security teams can remotely access all aspects of a company's security system, from the password-protected server to a closed door, to update and change permissions through codes sent through Wi-Fi or cellular signal.
For companies seeking even greater mobility, connecting all access control software and hardware through a network allows security administrators to update these devices at the same time in real time. Is IoT based access control model Keeps systems up to date with the latest security patches.
However, these models can create their own security risks. Anything based on the cloud or the web, or linking several devices to a source, can be prey to hackers. Access control management systems can reduce this increased cybersecurity risk by clearly identifying who can access secure information.
What are the types of access control?
Mandatory Access Control Management (MAC) is the strictest management option and gives full control of a complete operating system (doors, cloud-based services, elevators, smartphones) to a system administrator. Without the permission of this administrator, nobody and nothing can access.
Discretionary access control The administration (DAC) is one step below MAC and allows companies to decide who has access to what areas. Think of this as a bit like the official guest list for a party: people on the list have access to the party, but cannot bring a friend and may not have access to all event rooms. Unlike MAC systems, there is no single entity that grants permissions.
Similar to DAC, Role-based access control (RAC) grants permits based on certain criteria. Here, a user can access their personal email, but not the private files of a company on the same server. This allows companies to create security layers and grant access based on unique needs.
Latest, Rule based access control (RBAC) is a mixture of DAC and RAC. Here, a person or a list of people has access to certain areas based on unique needs, but must comply with certain rules (think of elevators that block employees after hours, regardless of whether they have access cards).
How to choose an access control model and a management system
No type of access control is infallible, and no management model or structure is better than another. The important thing is that a company identifies its final objective before implementing any type of access control structure.
Concord R&S Erection, a supplier of garage doors, commercial gates and dock equipment based in California, recommends following four steps when selecting access control:
- Consider the policies, models and mechanisms of access control. As described above, the selected model and management structure are critical to the success of access control. Choosing the model and structure helps identify hardware and software requirements.
- Know the hardware and security requirements. The hardware will vary depending on what level of security is needed and what type of authentication process is required. For example, fingerprints will require different hardware and offer a different level of security than, for example, card readers or facial recognition requirements.
- Evaluate connectivity and costs. Not all access control systems work with all types of operating systems. Some offer web-based connectivity solutions that may require network updates. Consider the capacity of the network and the cost of additions or extensions before selecting certain access control models.
- Plan for the future. While many access control system providers will offer updates, be sure to review those policies before purchasing. Also consider future business developments before committing to a type of access control model or management structure.