Why You Need Access Control

Every year the importance of data protection and internet safety grow. A large number of internet users in the United States use the internet without regard to its many potential dangers on any seemingly safe websites. In order to effectively protect data, an organization’s access control must address questions such as who has access to the company’s data, why protection is important, and the challenges that security professionals can face. Access control is a method that guarantees that users are in fact who they claim to be and that they have the appropriate access to the company’s data. Access control, at its core, is a selective restriction of access to data, and it consists of two main components:

  • Authentication
  • Authorization

Data security does not exist without authentication or authorization, as both are immensely important to data security at both a conceptual level and a practical level. In case of any data breach, access control is one of the first policies that will be investigated. Whether the breach is the accidental exposure of sensitive data or where sensitive data becomes exposed through a web server that functions with a significant software vulnerability, access controls are a key component, and without proper implementation or maintenance, the result can be fatal to any organization, whether or not that organization was knowledgeable about the best practices. Any organization that has employees who connect to the internet needs at least a base-level of access control in place because if the data in question could present any level of value to an actor without authorization to access it, access control is pivotal to the business’ well-being to avoid being exposed and exploited.

Authentication

Authentication is a technique used to verify that an internet user is who they claim to be. Authentication is obviously useful, as it prevents unaffiliated persons from accessing information that they have no reason to access. It is of utmost importance that an organization’s system administrator uses authentication processes in order to keep third parties out of the organization’s internal websites where data and information are stored, in order to prevent a data breach or any other exposure of data which does not need to be shared with third parties or the general public. Authentication on its own is useful and important to protecting an organization’s data, but it should be used in tandem with authorization because on its own it would not be as useful at preventing data exposure than it would with authorization.

Authorization

Authorization determines whether a user who is attempting to access an organization’s data should be allowed on the webpage. Authorization is an important step to data protection because, while authentication serves to prevent third parties from accessing an organization’s important data, authorization works as a sort of door-man, letting the right users in while turning the wrong ones away, and alerting the system administrator to an attempt by a third party to access the organization’s important data.