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What is Attribute Based Access Control?

Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) is a sophisticated approach to identity and access management (IAM) that grants or denies access to resources based on a set of attributes associated with the user, the resource and the environment. In ABAC, access decisions are made dynamically by evaluating attributes rather than relying solely on static roles or permissions.

How ABAC Works

Attributes are characteristics or properties associated with users, resources and the context of a request. These attributes can include user roles, department, location, time of access, device type and any other relevant information.

ABAC policies define the rules for access control based on attributes. These policies specify conditions under which access should be granted or denied. Policies can be simple (e.g. allow access if user role equals "manager") or complex (e.g. allow access if user role equals "manager" and department equals "finance" and request is made during business hours).

When a user requests access to a resource, the ABAC system evaluates the request against the relevant policies. It considers the attributes associated with the user, the resource being accessed and the context of the request. Based on the evaluation, the ABAC system makes a decision to either permit or deny access. The decision is made dynamically in real-time, taking into account the current state of attributes and policies.

ABAC offers several advantages over traditional access control models like Role Based Access Control (RBAC) or Discretionary Access Control (DAC):

ABAC allows for fine-grained access control, enabling organisations to define access policies based on a wide range of attributes.

Dynamic Access Control
Access decisions in ABAC are dynamic and context-aware, allowing for more flexible and adaptive access control.

Policy Based Control
ABAC policies are based on business logic and organisational requirements, providing a more intuitive and customisable approach to access control.

ABAC can scale to accommodate complex organisational structures and evolving access control needs.

Overall, ABAC provides organisations with a powerful framework for implementing flexible, dynamic and granular access control mechanisms, thereby enhancing security and compliance in diverse IT environments.

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