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What Are The Three Types Of Access Control Systems?

What Are The Three Types Of Access Control Systems?

There are three types of access control system. These are Mandatory Access Control (MAC), Discretionary Access Control (DAC) and Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). In this blog, we will go into more detail on what they are and how they all work.

What Is An Access Control System?

An access control system is a technology-based security system that grants or denies permission to data, information, certain buildings, room or areas, using a variety of access control such as a swipe card, key fob, or permissions to files.

Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

This type of access control has the most strictly controlled security settings. This is a ‘top down’ approach to access control, where the classification of information or area defines who has access to it.

So, a system administrator would assign the files or areas to specific groups and that then decides what they can or can’t see, or what physical locations they can access.

For example, a file that has been classified as for everyone to see, may need to be restricted. The system administrator would make the file ‘confidential’ which would instantly restrict the access.

Or a particular room may need to be locked down with immediate effect. A mandatory access control system allows this to be done swiftly.

These types of access control system are largely used by military organisations who employ hundreds or thousands of employees and have very strict and simple security requirements.

However, it may not necessarily be suitable for companies that have more varied departments and require a much more flexible approach.

Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary Access Control is a user based access control system which is the complete opposite of mandatory access.

The creator of a file or process decides who is able to see this data or information.

A good example of this, that you might not have thought of at first, is the Windows computer operating system used by most people all over the world.

The file creator will be bound by their own access permissions of course, so wouldn’t have the same control as the systems administrator in a mandatory access control system.

The main obvious benefit is that the user is in control of the permissions so can assign or allocate them as they wish.

The main downside to this is that it allows individuals to make up different processes and permissions that may not necessarily comply with the rest of the company.

For that reason, quite often, discretionary access control will have some restrictions placed on it by a systems administrator or management.

For example, the I.T Department may stop a user from changing a shared password, an administrator password.

A Human Resources Department may wish to store confidential files in a particular room, they will retain control over who has access to the room so that not just anyone can have a look because they feel like being a bit nosy

As with all access control systems, there needs to be a common sense approach to ensure that they work smoothly and consistently across the whole company and for each individual user.

the image shows a graphic reconstruction of the access control process for blog on access control system

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

This type of access control system is fairly self-explanatory, the role of the user defines what they have access to.

This allows users and, in some cases, third parties, to have access to files and areas they need, but not higher level or confidential information.

There are many benefits to a role-based access control system. It gives system administrators the ability to monitor who has access to what information.

It allows companies to ensure that they comply with all the relevant health and safety, confidentiality and privacy regulations, both for users and managers/directors.

There should be a high level of consistency with this type of access control. So that groups or individuals aren’t able to bypass any company policies.

Which should decrease the risk of any files going missing or any data breaches from within or from outside the company.

It saves time being able to assign someone to a particular group, rather than having to set up individual rights and user access.

Similarly, if a particular piece of information or area needs to be quickly made confidential or locked down, it can be done instantly. Which both speeds up the process and ensures that no-one gets to see anything that they shouldn’t, whether inadvertently or deliberately.

Get In Touch

There is a lot more technical information about the three types of access control systems available.

So, if you would like to talk to our team of highly trained experts to find out more information, or if you would like chat about the other security services that we provide at Mayfair, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

You can phone us on 0800 917 9385 or via our online contact form here.


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