What Is Access Control and Why Do You Need It?

There’s a reason why you have locks and other security devices on your property. You don’t want intruders on your property because of their ulterior motives. The same thing applies to computer systems and networks. If you don’t secure your entry points, cybercriminals will take charge.

Access control helps you monitor your system’s entry points against cyberattacks. How exactly does access control work, and what are its benefits?

What Is Access Control?

Access control, in this context, is the process of managing the people and devices that want to engage with your system to prevent malicious activities. Leaving your data open and accessible by all is a recipe for disaster. Not only could it be altered, but it could also be stolen.

Access control enables you to track users, verify their identity and determine their motives for accessing your data. For instance, when you implement an access control system, a cybercriminal attempting to break into your system will meet a wall. They’ll have to verify that they are who they claim to be, and then your system will evaluate the authenticity of their claims. If your access control system suspects any foul play, it would prevent what would have been a cyberattack.

How Does Access Control Work?

Man Working on a Laptop

There are two major components of access control—authentication and authorization.

Playing the role of a lie detector, authentication is the process of verifying that a user is who they claim to be by evaluating their device or network connection. Having stored the user’s credentials in your database previously, your system compares the credentials the user enters with the ones in its database to confirm if they are a match. If both credentials don’t match, the access control system blocks the user from gaining entry.

A user ID and password are basic information for authentication. In the form of single-factor authentication, the user ID and password must match the records in the system before the user gains access. Since cybercriminals have devised ways of bypassing single-factor authentication with password-hacking techniques such as brute force, implementing multi-factor authentication is key to strengthening your access control system.

Authorization is the process of determining access rights and privileges. It highlights the degree to which a user can access your network. Authorization works in line with your access policies. It enables your access control system to either approve or deny users access to your network based on the authenticity of their credentials and activities.

Besides granting access privileges to users, authorization also verifies that a user’s credentials are valid before they can enter your system. Authorization and authentication work together in access control to ensure that users are who they claim to be and stay within the confines of the access you grant them to your system.

What Are the Benefits of Access Control?

Network Data on Screen

The obvious benefit of access control is securing your system from unauthorized access and attacks. In addition to this, access control enhances your system in the following specific ways:

1. Cyber-Based Sentry Protections

With cybercriminals successfully launching cyberattacks including malware, adware, and phishing, tightening your cybersecurity is a necessity. One can’t be too careful when it comes to surfing the internet. One mistake could aid attackers to find their way into your database.

Having well-grounded access control is a good defense mechanism when you make a security blunder. It secures your system’s entry points by allowing access to only credible users and devices.

2. Track Network Traffic

Network traffic is a major route attackers use to enter the web applications of their victims. With a surge of traffic to your site, it might be hard to differentiate malicious visitors from others.

An effective access control system enables you to blacklist certain URLs ahead of time. That way, you don’t have to worry about unauthorized access from suspicious traffic sources.

You can develop metrics for screening network traffic to detect malicious IP addresses and other traffic sources. Anyone using your network won’t be able to access blocked URLs—leaving no room to fall prey to the antics of cyberattacks on those websites.

3. Facilitate Remote Access and Security

Remote work is the order of the day. You want to be productive wherever you are without being constrained to a physical workstation. Access control creates a secure environment for remote work. You and other authorized users get to access the system from different enabled devices and entry points.

You can grant different levels of access to users with the authorization component of your access control system, so they can operate according to their access privileges. There’s also accountability as you have a record of users and the areas they are accessing.

4. Promote Healthy Cyberculture

Access control creates awareness for a good cybersecurity culture and practice within your network. In implementing your access control framework, you’ll need to create policies guarding the use of your system.

Having rules and regulations for accessing your system enhances your cyber hygiene. Such a heightened security awareness is essential because human error accounts for a high amount of data breaches.

5. Increase Productivity and Efficiency

Man Pointing at Laptop Screen

In the absence of an effective access control system, you may have an obligation to work at a specific time, at a particular place, and on certain devices. Access control gives you the flexibility to work at your convenience.

If you are working with other people, you don’t have to keep them waiting when you aren’t around. With the correct credentials and access privileges, users can log into the system and proceed with their work on their own. The continuous workflow increases productivity and efficiency in the long run.

6. Compliance With Data Regulations

The use of individuals’ data against their will has led to the establishment of regulations to stop network owners from extorting their data. These regulations outline severe sanctions that are meted out on defaulters.

Implementing access control puts you on the right side of the law to protect users’ data that may be in your system. The security layers your access control system offers secure your database against theft and compromise by hackers.

Strengthening the Security of Your Data With Access Control

The security of your network and the data in it hinges on access. If you expose your assets to cybercriminals, they’ll be happy to milk it. Setting up a strong access control system raises the security fences of your application’s entry points.

It’s easier to effect change from the inside than outside. An effective rule of cybersecurity is to prevent unauthorized access in the first place. If attackers penetrate your system, they stand a better chance to cause damage while inside. Keep them outside where they should be with access control.

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