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Defining Role-Based Access Control in the Enterprise

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Role-based access control, or RBAC, lets you decide how data is accessed within your enterprise. Here’s everything you need to know.

Conversations about cybersecurity tend to revolve around one thing—protecting yourself and your enterprise from hackers. And with good reason! Bad actors get smarter every day, attack vectors constantly evolve, and web applications are more vulnerable than ever before. Still, many people forget that not all cybersecurity threats are caused by external forces.

In fact, more than two out of three insider threat events stem from negligence, such as an employee sharing their credentials too freely.

Insider threats—security threats that originate from within an organization—have increased by 47% over the past two years. 60% of total data breaches came from insiders in 2020, and in that year these insider threats cost enterprises $2.79 million. It’s important to note that not all insider cybersecurity attacks are caused by employees actively looking to harm their organization. In fact, more than two out of three insider threat events stem from negligence, such as an employee sharing their credentials too freely.

No matter how you slice it, insider threats can be incredibly damaging to large enterprises. Using role-based access control (RBAC) protocols is one way to protect valuable internal information. You may have some questions—what are RBAC protocols? How do they work? This article will cover everything you need to know.

What is role-based access control?

Role-based access control, or RBAC, is a method of restricting access to an enterprise’s information based on the role an individual has within the organization. RBAC’s goal is to help enterprises enforce the principle of least privilege, which states that any employee should only have enough access to fulfill their responsibilities quickly and effectively—no more, no less. This helps strategically limit the flow of sensitive information.

Your access control policy will look different from another enterprise’s, but most RBAC systems are based on the following three principles:

  1. Role assignment: States that someone can only exercise a permission if they have been assigned a role
  2. Role authorization: States that someone's active role must be authorized by another person

  3. Permission authorization: States that someone can only exercise a permission if it has been authorized for the subject’s active role. Along with the prior two principles, this ensures users can only exercise permissions for which they have been currently authorized.

Beyond these principles, you must tailor RBAC to your enterprise’s business structure, culture, and management style in order to be fully effective. As a result, you can break down access rights in a variety of ways. You might restrict access based on user status, such as end-user vs. administrator vs. specialist user, or you could also restrict access to computer resources based on who should be completing specific tasks like viewing, creating, or modifying files.

No matter how you cater RBAC to your company, there are some best practices for RBAC protocols you should follow:

  • Remember that you won’t need RBAC for all resources in your enterprise—be judicious, and only use RBAC when it’s really necessary

  • Create a list of roles and their access rights, and match employees to these roles 

  • Don’t create too many roles, as this would defeat the purpose of RBAC 

  • Don’t create too few roles, as that would compromise efficiency

  • Periodically audit roles and permissions to ensure they’re still relevant and beneficial

The benefits of RBAC for the enterprise

Role-based access controls are a huge benefit to large enterprises, particularly when it comes to security. By strategically restricting access to sensitive information, you’re reducing the potential for data breaches. Under RBAC protocols, an entry-level analyst doesn’t have access to the same kinds of business-critical data as the CEO, for instance. If the analyst’s account is compromised, either internally or externally, the resulting data breach will not level the entire organization. This will make it far easier to mitigate any damage.

Other benefits of RBAC include:

  • Increasing operational efficiency: Platforms with RBAC built-in make it simple to quickly add and change roles as needed. Plus, RBAC reduces any potential errors as you make these changes.

  • Improving compliance: Meeting statutory and regulatory requirements becomes easier when using RBAC, a secure and systematic way of managing how data is accessed

  • Reducing costs: By restricting user access to certain applications and processes, you can save on bandwidth, memory, and storage. Plus, you can better allocate these resources.

Revamping role-based access control at Unqork

On Unqork, you can combine no-code and RBAC in order to improve security, foster collaboration, and boost efficiency. Unqork’s sophisticated RBAC enables you to handle all user roles and permissions, at super granular levels or at a team level, throughout each of your applications. You can also control access to features and components by user role, and bring control access into the design environment. Since different users and permissions are supported in each environment, you can implement the RBAC protocols that are most beneficial.

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Also, we’ve recently redesigned our RBAC offerings in order to make managing permissions even more straightforward! Now, on Unqork you can:

  • Simplify and clarify granting permissions to other Creators

  • Preview permissions for each role as you’re assigning them

  • View a combined permission table once roles have been assigned to a user

  • Fully revoke a Creator’s access to Unqork

Watch our 60-second build timelapse to see how simple it is to build secure applications. 

With these access control policy protocols and more, you can exercise complete control over your sensitive data in the Unqork platform. Improve the security of your enterprise applications and easily manage team members, with help from Unqork’s no-code RBAC capabilities.

Schedule a demonstration of Unqork with one of our in-house experts today, and sign up for the Unqork newsletter to keep up with the latest in no-code news.