Understanding the Basics of Role-Based Access Control

Basics of Role-Based Access Control

Role-based access control offers several benefits to your business. It reduces IT and administrative workloads by tying permissions to roles rather than individual users.

Reviewing your roles and the permission levels they permit periodically is essential. It will help prevent accidental or malicious data breaches. To do so, you’ll need to understand the basic principles of RBAC.

Basic Concepts

Role-based access control enables you to create a set of permissions to assign to specific users. It is much easier than creating and managing individual access rights for every user.

Before implementing role-based access control, you must understand the fundamental concepts of this security model. The core model includes authorization, responsibility, and job specialization. Each of these is essential to how RBAC works and how to use it to secure your business.

The idea behind RBAC is that each employee has a distinct role in the company, and their duties are clearly defined. So when it comes to file access, employees should only have permissions related to their role. Software engineers shouldn’t have access to duplicate files as HR or marketing teams do.

To set up a system of roles, first inventory your systems to determine the programs and servers, documents, files, and records that are part of your business landscape. It may take a little time, but it is a crucial step to get the process started. You can then collaborate with management and human resources to identify the roles that make sense for your organization. Once you have the list, identify the permissions with each role. You can then create a hierarchy of roles with the most senior roles having the most permissions and junior roles inheriting from them.


Authorization is the process that checks to see if a user has permission to use a particular resource or program. It usually comes before authentication and controls access based on a user’s role in your organization. It’s a crucial part of your cybersecurity because it ensures that if someone does misplace or has their credentials stolen, they won’t be able to access the entire company’s information and systems.

Role-based access controls are an effective way to manage authorization. They help you mitigate identity-related risks and increase efficiencies across the business. Unlike rule-based models, which grant access based on criteria like job title or seniority, RBAC methods give users primary access and adjust their access privileges as they move through your organizational chart. It helps you avoid over-granting permissions and reduce the administrative burden on IT teams, who must constantly keep track of many individual permissions.

This method also makes it easier for new employees to get started on their assignments since they’ll already have pre-defined access. However, it’s essential to understand your company and business needs before implementing this system. You’ll need to clearly define each role and determine which resources users in each role should be granted. It can be challenging for larger organizations, as creating and implementing the role structure may require a lot of time.


When defining access policies for RBAC, it is essential to consider what job functions, technologies, and systems must be protected. For example, an employee who needs to check the configuration of a network device can handle that system without complete control of the system. Instead, the administrator should designate a role for that person to cross-check the configuration without modifying it.

Then, you must decide what permissions should be included in that role and who will be assigned the role. For example, an HR manager might need read/write access to the employee database but cannot create a new account or delete an existing one. You can make these decisions using a policy tool to create roles based on user roles rather than job titles or departments. It will prevent the proliferation of roles and enable you to categorize each for easier tracking and maintenance.

It is essential to review your RBAC periodically because requirements change, and people come and go in the company. Also, you may need a finer level of control for some groups of users, such as contractors who need a temporary set of files or program access. Analyzing needs and setting policies is iterative, and it’s best to work with IT staff and other stakeholders to avoid creating rules that are too restrictive or too open-ended.

Job Specialization

Job specialization is a common practice within companies, allowing employees to become experts in a particular work area. The specialized employee can complete tasks within their expertise without a supervisor’s direct direction. As a result, the company can save on training costs and produce more output in less time. However, this practice does have some drawbacks.

For example, when specialized workers are not given new challenges, they may feel bored and uninterested. Also, if an employee becomes proficient at one specific task, they might need to learn how to perform another task if transferred to another department. It can cause a loss in productivity as employees will need to spend time learning new skills.

A highly specialized skill set can also make completing prerequisite tasks for other responsibilities more challenging, as employees will need a clearer idea of their priorities. Therefore, open communication between the manager and employee must ensure that all responsibilities are understood and nothing is missed.

Role-based access control is a security method that can help with this problem by restricting permissions to only what is needed. It helps to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized users from accessing the system.