Types of Access Controls

Access Control for Access Management

Access control is a fundamental pillar of information security and plays a vital role in Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems. By employing various access control models and mechanisms, organizations can safeguard their data and system resources, ensuring that only authorized entities are granted access while preventing unauthorized intrusion. IAM access controls encompass diverse approaches, including Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), Risk-Based Access Control (RBAC), Adaptive Access Control, and Continuous-Based Access Control, each offering unique advantages in managing and enforcing access restrictions. These frameworks, coupled with authentication, authorization, privilege management, and auditing mechanisms, establish a layered defense that fortifies an organization's security posture and promotes the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical assets.

IAM Tokens for Secure Access
Here is a breakdown of the common Access Controls used for Secure Authentication:
Adaptive Access Control (AAC)

Adaptive Access Control is a model that adjusts access control decisions based on real-time analysis of a user's behavior, system conditions, and environmental factors. For example, a user's access privileges might be restricted if they are attempting to access sensitive data at an unusual hour, or if their device is identified as insecure. This model allows access control mechanisms to adapt to changing circumstances, enhancing security.


Continuous Based Access Control (CBAC)

CBAC is a model that continuously evaluates and enforces access control policies based on real-time information. Rather than making a one-time access decision at the point of login, CBAC continuously monitors user activity and system conditions to determine if access should be maintained or revoked. For instance, if a user's behavior suddenly changes and becomes anomalous, CBAC can intervene and terminate the session, even if the user was initially granted access.


Consent-Based Access Control (CBAC)

Consent-Based Access Control (CBAC) is an access control model that places an emphasis on user consent and privacy preferences. In this model, users have control over their personal data and can provide explicit consent for specific data sharing or access requests. For instance, in a healthcare setting, a patient can provide consent for their medical records to be shared with a specialist for a second opinion. CBAC provides users with greater autonomy over their personal data, enhancing trust and privacy.


Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC)

Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC) is an access control model that defines access control policies based on attributes and conditions. It allows for more granular control and flexibility in defining access rules. For example, an organization could establish a policy that only allows access to a certain database during regular business hours and only from devices that meet specific security standards. PBAC can handle complex access control scenarios that can't be addressed by role-based access controls alone.


Attribute-based access control (ABAC)

Attribute-based access control (ABAC) is an access control model that grants or denies access to resources based on attributes associated with users, objects, and environmental conditions. While it is true that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) removed ABAC as a separate access control model in their Special Publications, it is important to note that the concept of attribute-based access control remains relevant and widely used in practice today. The core principles of ABAC, such as evaluating fine-grained attributes and dynamically adapting access decisions, continue to be valuable in managing access to resources in complex and dynamic environments. Organizations across various industries, including healthcare, finance, and cloud computing, recognize the benefits of ABAC and implement it as part of their overall access control strategies. ABAC provides a flexible and scalable approach to access control, enabling organizations to enforce granular policies based on contextual attributes. It offers a powerful mechanism to define and enforce security policies that align with specific business requirements and regulatory compliance. Moreover, ABAC facilitates interoperability and integration across systems and platforms, enabling organizations to leverage diverse attribute sources and streamline access management. Therefore, while NIST may have dropped ABAC as a separate model, the underlying concept and principles of attribute-based access control continue to play a significant role in access control frameworks today.


Risk-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Risk-Based Access Control, though sharing the same acronym as Role-Based Access Control, is a distinctly different model. It incorporates risk assessment into the access control decision-making process. For example, an organization might have a policy that allows employees to access certain sensitive resources only from within the organization's physical premises. If an access request for these resources comes from an unknown location, the Risk-Based Access Control system would flag this as high-risk and could deny access or require additional authentication. This dynamic approach to access control helps organizations adapt to evolving threats and mitigate potential risks.


Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

RBAC is a model where user access rights and permissions are granted based on their role in the organization. In essence, RBAC associates roles with access permissions, and then users are assigned to these roles. For instance, in a hospital, the role "doctor" may have access to patient medical records, while the role "receptionist" may only have access to appointment scheduling systems. This way, when a new doctor is hired, they are simply assigned the role of "doctor", automatically granting them access to the necessary data and systems, without needing to manually set permissions for each new user. This approach is effective in large organizations where roles are clearly defined, and it simplifies the access management process, making it more efficient.



Access control is a fundamental aspect of information security and Identity and Access Management (IAM). It encompasses various models and mechanisms that are designed to restrict access to data and system resources, ensuring that they are accessible only to authorized entities. One widely adopted model is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), which assigns permissions to users based on their roles within the organization. This simplifies access management by granting or revoking permissions at the role level. Another model is Risk-Based Access Control (RBAC), which incorporates risk assessment into the access control process. It considers factors such as data sensitivity and user behavior to determine the appropriate level of access. Adaptive access control is a dynamic model that adjusts access privileges in real-time based on contextual information and policy rules. It leverages continuous monitoring to make access decisions, enhancing security. Continuous-Based Access Control is an evolving approach that continuously assesses access based on factors such as user behavior and policy changes. IAM access controls also include mechanisms such as authentication, authorization, privilege management, and auditing. These mechanisms verify user identities, determine access privileges, manage user entitlements, and track user activities respectively. By implementing robust access control models and mechanisms, organizations can ensure that the right individuals have the right level of access, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches and safeguarding their critical assets.