Attribute-Based Access Control: Tips For Efficient Implementation

    For organizations worldwide, data protection is one of the biggest challenges. With ever-growing cyber-attack incidents and the rising number of connected devices, it is understandable why it is critical for any business to maintain the best possible security posture.

    To protect the most important business assets, one move you should take is to determine how you manage access to databases, software, big data, and APIs. As the number of users and functions increases, legacy one-dimensional access management approaches begin to fail.

    A better way to strengthen the layered protection strategy is to incorporate an attribute-based access control (ABAC) approach. Here we clarify how to prepare for this new form of access control to be applied. 

    Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

    ABAC implements enterprise-wide user access on the basis of policies derived from data attributes and based on business and security rules. Often referred to as externalized fine-grained authorization, this form of contextual access control helps businesses resolve complex issues related to insider risks, national security, enforcement, privacy, and various business needs.

    ABAC is a framework that can manage the dynamics of the IT world today, where legacy role-based access controls cannot adapt to the IT climate that is constantly evolving. It works by designing policies that provide contextual, risk-aware access control by using attributes. ABAC can describe authorization in terms of multiple aspects, unlike RBAC, which is solely identity-centric, e.g., the resource being accessed and the user, the relationship between the resource and the user, the behavior, and contextual details such as device, time, risk, and location. Attributes can include organizational roles, teams, and position within an organization, time of day, risk rating, and much more.

    Getting Started With ABAC: Tips For Implementation

    As is the case with any approach that can cover your entire enterprise, businesses need to prepare for the transition, both technically and organizationally. Mentioned here are a few aspects to consider:

    Identify stakeholder roles: Access management affects all of an organization’s divisions, and with an ABAC model, you have the potential to lock down critical assets and open up collaboration if necessary. It has been designed to allow a number of people to access the same information. While implementing an ABAC application, having all of the internal teams on board is a crucial move.

    Business and security scenarios: Because ABAC is mainly a security solution, you want to ensure that the various security and business applications you are currently running are accounted for in preparation. You can also streamline the current security system and implement more complex rules for policy authorization and compliance.

    Review ABAC-supporting technology needs: Part of the success of ABAC is due to its ability to centralize access control and assist organizations to easily make and scale improvements over time. An internal infrastructure audit and the breadth of the critical additions to the current stack will ensure a seamless transition as part of the initial implementation. ABAC, for example, fits well with federated identity solutions and integrates with API gateways seamlessly.

    Select applications to be secured first: You would like to select an application as part of the test process and benchmark the outcomes. In carrying out the enterprise-wide implementation, the application you select will set the norm that you apply going forward and represent immediate ROI.

    Determine functional and non-functional specifications: Implementation of your ABAC solution will be driven by practical requirements. The organizational criteria include administrative and business regulations relating to who gets to see what, where, and when. In terms of non-functional criteria, IT leaders would have the most to say. This usually includes issues such as hosting, disaster recovery preparations, and general usability.

    Teams involved in the initial launch often see difficulties in having the whole enterprise onboard. But once everyone is onboard, ABAC’s advantage can be seen in decreasing time-to-market, ROI relating to risk reduction, and freeing up time for the developers to focus on the application’s features. Companies will be able to benefit from ABAC more efficiently while still ensuring that the most valuable assets are secured by preparing the project with readiness and teams’ correct mindset.

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