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What is Access Control?

Access control refers to the process of regulating and managing who or what can access resources within a computing environment. This includes systems, networks, applications, data, and physical locations. Access control is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity that helps prevent unauthorised access and ensures that only authorised users or entities can interact with sensitive information or perform specific actions.

There are several key components and concepts related to access control in cybersecurity and IAM:

This is the process of verifying the identity of a user or system entity trying to access resources. It typically involves credentials such as usernames, passwords, biometrics (like fingerprints or facial recognition), security tokens, or digital certificates.

Once a user or entity is authenticated, authorisation determines what actions or resources they are allowed to access based on their identity and permissions. Authorisation mechanisms may include role-based access control (RBAC), attribute-based access control (ABAC), or other policy-driven approaches.

This involves managing user identities throughout their lifecycle, including provisioning (granting initial access), deprovisioning (revoking access when no longer needed), and managing permissions based on changes in roles or responsibilities. Continuous monitoring and auditing of access events help detect and respond to unauthorised access attempts or suspicious activities in real-time, enhancing overall security posture.

Effective access control mechanisms are crucial for maintaining data confidentiality, integrity and availability, as well as complying with regulatory requirements such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. Implementing a layered approach to access control that combines authentication, authorization and monitoring helps organisations mitigate cybersecurity risks and protect sensitive information from unauthorised access or breaches.

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