Access Control

What Is Secure Access?

Access control in cybersecurity is a set of processes and procedures that enables organizations to manage authorized access across corporate data and resources. Access control policies verify that users are who they say they are and assign an appropriate level of access depending on built-in controls. 

Cybersecurity teams use access control frameworks to manage which users have access to certain information and locations that are crucial for business operations and customer privacy. It’s important to limit access so that users, employees, and vendors only have the access they need to perform their duties—and nothing more.

Implementing access control is an essential component of cybersecurity. Ensuring that only authorized users have appropriate access to the resources they need helps organizations avoid data breaches from numerous attack vectors. 

Benefits of Secure Access

Simplified Management

Access control systems provide organizations with a simple way to manage employee credentials and data access. Cybersecurity teams can track and monitor all network entryway activity through a centralized access control system to identify anomalies, mitigate risks, and prevent data breaches. 

Continuous Activity Tracking

While other systems can help monitor networks for anomalous activity, access control systems are easy to use and can be applied to all accessible locations. In addition to cybersecurity activity, access control systems can also integrate building entry, data center access, and anywhere else where access control systems are active. 

Easy Adjustments of Access Levels

Access control systems make it easy to set network access parameters for specific users within particular timeframes and database access for IT professionals. The best part is that most modern access control systems for cybersecurity can be controlled remotely. In a few clicks, network access can be adjusted if necessary. 

Centralized Management of Credential Requirements

Another feature of access control systems in cybersecurity is the ability to require specific credentials depending on the security level, employee responsibilities, and other factors. This enables IT teams to track better which users have access to what data and even secure on-site data center locations. 

Minimized Risks, Improved Security

Ultimately, the goal of access control systems is to boost security for on-location, network, and cloud resources without impeding operations. Organizations will significantly improve cybersecurity postures and minimize data risks when access control is implemented correctly. 

Types of Secure Access

There are several different types of access controls that cybersecurity teams can implement to protect their users and business data.

Attribute-based access control: a context-based policy that defines access based on IAM policies.

Discretionary access control: a model that allows the data owner to decide access control via access rights and rules.

Mandatory access control: a strict policy based on individuals and the resources, systems, and data that they are allowed to access. 

Role-based access control: an access control policy where users are assigned access based on their organizational roles

Break-glass access control: a policy incorporating an emergency account that can bypass regular permissions in a critical event. 

Rule-based access control: a framework where administrators define the rules governing access to data and resources built around various conditions. 

Components of Secure Access

Access control is not just one tool or policy. Instead, it is a framework for cybersecurity that is managed through many components working together to secure network access. These components include:

  • Authentication: establishing the identity of a user.
  • Authorization: specifies access rights and privileges of each user.
  • Access: grants access to the data, resources, and systems that a user has privileges to. 
  • Management: adding, removing, and adjusting access where appropriate. 
  • Auditing: enables cybersecurity teams to analyze user activity data, discover potential violations, and mitigate authorization procedures. 

There are several data compliance policies and regulations in place that are meant to help organizations provide secure services for customers and keep their data safe from fraudulent activity.

PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for payment card systems

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) for patient health data

SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2) for service providers with customer data in the cloud

ISO 2700 (International Organization for Standardization) for cybersecurity standards demonstrating an organization’s ability to protect consumer data

Access Control Policy Best Practices

Most organizations looking to implement access control policies are larger organizations with access to IT teams and cybersecurity professionals. To implement the following access control policies, businesses of all sizes should hire a developer with a deep understanding of cybersecurity.

Use Cases First, Compliance Second

Compliance and regulations are typically formulated for general organizational needs. However, these often represent the bare minimum requirements to keep consumers safe. Balance compliance requirements with real-world scenarios that could affect your organization. 

Access and Roles Go Hand-in-Hand

Each employee should have a unique username, password, 2MFA, and biometric credentials in addition to other organization requirements. When evaluating access levels, roles and responsibilities are sure to play a part in each access assignment. Identifying access tied to specific roles is a great place to start implementing access control. 

Follow the Principle of Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege states that employees should have the minimum access necessary to perform their duties. Anything more is a security risk, and any less hinders productivity. 

Review Access Policies Frequently

Cybersecurity teams should create workflows for reviewing access policies for various events and ongoing maintenance. Many access control systems utilize AI tools to automate these processes, but manual audits could be necessary for events such as employee exit procedures and temporary or contractual accounts.

Train Employees Regularly

Finally, all employees should be trained on access control best practices, not just IT personnel. Annual training and additional training when policies change or new security features are added are essential to preventing critical user mistakes that could lead to a data breach. 

Access Control vs. Identity and Access Management

Access control and Identity and Access Management (IAM) often need clarification. But there are a few key differences that set the two apart. 

Access determines whether or not a user can or cannot use a particular resource, website, or database. Authenticating a user’s identity is part of determining access. Still, it is a separate procedure meant for users to prove that they are who they claim to be granted access to certain systems. Access management is how access controls determine whether or not an authenticated user has privileged access to data and company resources. 

The difference between managing identities and managing access is how attributes are analyzed. Identity management manages attributes related to users, while access management evaluates those attributes based on specific security policies to make a yes/no access decision. 

Access control systems help organizations track user activities to prevent cyberattacks and mitigate data breaches. There are many different types of access control, but only some organizations need to implement all of them. Cybersecurity teams should evaluate their environments to discover the most vulnerable elements and take steps to ensure that they are following access control policies accordingly. When implemented correctly, access control in cybersecurity can help businesses maintain a secure IT environment across their organization. 

CylanceGATEWAY™ is AI-empowered Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). It allows your remote workforce to establish secure network connectivity from any device—managed or unmanaged—to any app in the cloud or on premises, across any network. This cloud-native ZTNA solution provides scalable outbound-only access to any application while hiding critical assets from unauthorized users—minimizing attack surface areas.

The multi-tenant architecture of CylanceGATEWAY is designed for digital transformation and distributed work. Its powerful AI and machine learning improve your security posture and simplify the configuration and management of granular, dynamic security policies and access controls.