Cloud computing is an advanced emerging technology and it is regarded as a computing paradigm in which resources in the computing infrastructure are provided as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing provides a platform to cut costs and help the users to focus on their core business instead of being impeded by information technology obstacles. However, this new paradigm of data storage service introduces some security challenges for the business. A great part of data owners are concerned that their data could be misused or accessed by the unauthorized users in the cloud storage system.

Cloud stores a large amount of sensitive information that can be shared by other users of the cloud. Hence, to protect this sensitive information from the malicious users, access control mechanisms are used. Here, each user and each resource is assigned an identity, based on which they may either be granted or denied access to the data. These methods are called identity-based access control methods. One of the examples of such method is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Role-Based Access Control Method

To protect sensitive data from improper use, change or deletion, companies need a system to restrict employee access. Role-Based Access Control refers to a method for restricting data access based on a user’s role in the company. With RBAC, employees can access only the resources and files they need to fulfil their responsibilities. Their credentials allow or restrict access based on the tasks they are assigned, so the chance for data misuse is minimised.

RBAC systems can be especially useful in larger enterprises and in companies that use third-party contractors. As the number of employees increases and the authorized contractors change, it can be difficult to provide unique credential settings for each employee. Using a role-based access control system means that admins can sort employees or contractors into pre-existing groups, or roles, which grant access to a defined set of resources. This access is temporary, as the employees can also be removed from the group when the task is complete. Admins can also reset the permission levels for the groups, which means they can better manage employees at scale, increase efficiency, and even improve compliance.

RBAC enables administrators to divide users into groups based on the different roles they take on, and a single user can belong to multiple groups. Typically, employee access takes into consideration the person’s active status and roles, any security requirements, and existing policies. The best practice is to provide minimal authorization for any given user – only enough so that they can do their job. This is known as the principle of least privilege, and it helps ensure data security.

Benefits of RBAC

For many organizations, divided into multiple departments, with hundreds of employees often equipped with their own computers, the role-based access control system is the best solution to apply for optimal security. If implemented efficiently, RBAC has many benefits for both your team and the entire organization.

  • Reducing administrative work and IT support

When a new employee is hired or if a current worker changes his job position or department, role-based access control eliminates the need for time-wasting paperwork and password changes to grant and remove network access.  Instead, you can use RBAC to add and switch roles quickly and implement them globally across operating systems, platforms and applications. It also reduces the potential for error when assigning user permissions. This reduction in time spent on administrative tasks is just one of several economic benefits of RBAC. It also helps to more easily integrate third-party users into your network by giving them pre-defined roles.

  • Maximizing operational performance

RBAC systems also can be designed to maximize operational performance and strategic business value. They can streamline and automate many transactions and business processes and provide users with the resources to perform their jobs better, faster and with greater personal responsibility. With RBAC system implemented, organizations are better positioned to meet their own statutory and regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality, which is crucial for health care organizations and financial institutions. Directors, managers and IT staffers are better able to monitor how data is being used and accessed, for the purpose of preparing more accurate planning and budget models based on real needs.

  • Providing solid security and high business value

Low maintenance costs and increased efficiency are among the key benefits of RBAC as a security strategy for midsize and large organizations. Here’s how it works: Once all of the employee roles are populated into the database, role-based rules are formulated and workflow engine modules are implemented. Through these elements, role-based privileges can be entered and updated quickly across multiple systems, platforms, applications and geographic locations – right from the HR or IT manager’s desktop. By controlling users’ access according to their roles and the attributes attached to those roles, the RBAC model provides a companywide control process for managing IT assets while maintaining the desired level of security.

  • Role-Based Access Control Helps Protect Against Data Breaches

Roles can also help minimize damage caused by a data breach. Besides data encryption and other security measures built into the storage repository, user access limitations help seal off potential hackers and limit any adverse impacts arising from a breach. Businesses can alert users trying to view data that they don’t have proper access and prompt them to contact an administrator for additional access.

Many businesses utilize single sign-on (SSO) connected to Active Directory (AD) to authenticate users. Employees can then connect locally or log in with a VPN. Once the data lake verifies their information, it produces a signature of their identity and role. If an employee is accessing data in your cloud-hosted data lake remotely, it’s critical to secure their connection.

  • Better security compliance

All organizations are subject to federal, state and local regulations. With an RBAC system in place, companies can more easily meet regulatory requirements for privacy and confidentiality. Furthermore, IT departments and executives have the ability to manage how data is being accessed and used. This is especially significant for health care and financial institutions, which manage lots of sensitive data.

A core business function of any organization is protecting data in the cloud. RBAC system can ensure the company’s information meets privacy and confidentiality regulations. So, if your business does not have an established data governance plan, it is time to develop one. Moreover, learning to recognize the potential dangers and establish proper responses to a data breach will help you to react faster and minimize damage.