Implementing RBAC into your company can be a huge undertaking. It will require a lot of consideration, and some friction in the workplace can be inevitable.
Start by inventorying systems, programs, servers, and data you need security. Also, list the status of physical security in your server rooms.
Define Your Roles
Role-based access control (RBAC) defines permissions to a user based on their Role within the organization. This simplifies and streamlines security by removing the need to assign permissions to users individually and making it easier to manage new employees and internal role changes.
The first step in role-based access control implementation is to define your roles. This can seem daunting, but with some advanced planning and elbow grease, improving your security posture and compliance with regulations is easy.
To start, you need to analyze the needs of each department in your business and determine what access they need to complete their tasks. For example, a software engineering team might need access to their development software, while a marketing team might need access to campaign data and tools. Once you have identified what the various departments need, you can create a set of roles that align with those needs.
You should avoid creating too many roles. Too many roles can confuse, and enforcing policies and complying with regulations can be more difficult. Once you have created the desired number of roles, you can create a permissions mapping to link them to your deployable applications. The permissions mapping is a set of rules dictating what actions each Role can perform on a resource.
Create a Permissions Mapping
Roles are groups of permissions that can be assigned to users. They are easier to manage and apply than individual permissions, which can quickly become complex and difficult to understand. To create a role, you must first define the permissions it should grant or deny.
This step can be a significant undertaking, but it’s vital for the success of your project. Use RBAC to evaluate the systems, data, and processes you want to protect. For example, you may want to use it for your email server, customer databases, or shared folders on a file server. You’ll also want to consider any compliance or regulatory requirements you must satisfy.
As you identify the necessary resources, list each role and the permissions it should grant or deny. Then, assign a user to each role. Once the mapping is complete, you’re ready to move on to the next step of your project.
While some teams try to avoid these challenges by defining increasingly fine-grained roles, creating ad hoc roles as their needs change, or assigning too many permissions directly to users, this approach is often challenging for administrators and difficult for end-users to manage. It can also violate the principle of least privilege and lead to organizational inconsistencies. To prevent this, you must establish a decision-making body to ensure that your roles remain consistent and relevant as the business evolves.
Assign Roles to Users
Roles are a collection of permissions that you can assign to end-users. By default, a user can access all roles in their role group. Users may need access to certain data or programs to complete their job duties. In these cases, you can add the user to multiple groups.
Assigning a role to a user is done through the USER MANAGEMENT area. You can select the user you want and choose a role in the role dropdown menu. When you assign a role, the permissions associated with it are applied to the user when logging into the N-able platform.
When designing your roles, you must avoid introducing common pitfalls like insufficient or excessive granularity, role overlap and granting too many exceptions. Documenting policies and procedures is important to ensure clarity and proper permissions are granted. Finally, a centralized auditing system is recommended to help identify any changes in permissions and ensure that the security standards are adhered to.
Test Your System
If done right, role-based access control can significantly reduce your company’s risk of data breaches and compliance violations, improve security, and reduce administrative overhead. However, it’s important to understand that successful implementation and maintenance require a thoughtful approach.
The first step in creating a secure RBAC system is to evaluate the systems, data, and processes you must protect. Begin by painting with broad strokes, and then fine-tune your plans based on your final goal for the system.
Once you’ve validated your roles, it’s time to begin assigning them to users. This is where the rubber meets the road, which can be a significant challenge. You will need to test each Role for all possible actions and pay particular attention to navigational steps and any fields or windows that require the input of data values.
The more complicated your organization, the more complex the task of implementing an RBAC policy will be. You may find yourself in situations where you must weigh competing concerns: Should assistants receive the same level of access as managers? Should staff be allowed to move between departments temporarily, requiring them to recertify their access rights? The key to overcoming these challenges is to work with your security team, business process teams, and human resources department. If you have the right people on your side, implementing a secure RBAC system will be easier.