According to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) is defined as “an access control method where subject requests to perform operations on objects are granted or denied based on assigned attributes of the subject, assigned attributes of the object, environment conditions, and a set of policies that are specified in terms of those attributes and conditions.” ABAC, which evolved from simple access control lists and role-based access control, has been popular in the last decade as a type of logical access control.
The goal of Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) is to secure items like data, network devices, and IT resources from unauthorized users and actions that violate an organization’s security regulations. ABAC is an authorization mechanism that determines access by evaluating attributes (or traits) rather than roles. With ABAC, the attributes of the subject, resource, action, and environment involved in an access event are used to enforce access restrictions. The characteristics or values of a component involved in an access event are known as attributes. Attribute-Based Access Control compares these components’ characteristics against policies. These policies specify which attribute combinations are authorized for the subject to complete an action successfully. Policies take attributes into consideration when determining whether certain access conditions are permitted.
The benefits of ABAC are many and there are some requirements that can only be achieved using an ABAC model:
- Granular and Contextual Policies for Greater Security
A significant advantage of ABAC technology is the extent of authorization it provides. In real-time, you can regulate who can do what, when, how, why, from where, and with what device. Role-Based access Control (RBAC) is a role-based access control model that grants access based on a user’s position within their business. ABAC, on the other hand, gathers contextual characteristics and dynamically reviews access requests based on multiple attributes, not just a user’s role.
Further, ABAC maintains data integrity, ensuring that sensitive data can only be accessed securely by the appropriate users under the appropriate conditions, allowing it to be utilized more efficiently. Maintaining data integrity entails working to ensure that the application’s data complies with the necessary business standards.
- Simplified Authorization with Centralized Policy Management
The other benefit of ABAC is the flexibility it provides. With a centralized policy management engine, administrators can easily audit or revoke access to which applications users can access data with, what type of data users can access, what transactions they can submit, and the operations they can perform. These adjustments are made centrally and automatically enforced across the enterprise. With this centralized policy management engine, regulatory policy changes are more efficiently enforced. When employees change roles, join, or leave the organization, their access privileges are instantly updated, making auditing access rights much quicker.
- Identity-Aware Policy Platform
Protecting data based solely on a person’s role is not enough to provide the requisite level of security anymore. The data must be safeguarded to the highest possible degree while still being accessible to users who need access. In order to help enterprises meet their data security, regulatory compliance, and business needs, ABAC’s centralized policy-engine creates fine-grained access policies to protect sensitive data from being compromised in an organization. NextLabs Control Center provides policy management, dynamic policy evaluation, enforcement services, attribute management, integration points, audit reports, and automation tools to allow organizations to centrally administer, deploy, and enforce identity-aware data-centric ABAC and information control policies. Policies are centrally managed and decoupled/externalized from the protected application, which means they can be modified without requiring code changes or application downtime. This enhances organizational agility and leaves the company in a much better position to respond to always-changing business conditions and regulatory environments.