How to prevent broken access control

Published by Alex Olivier on February 29, 2024
How to prevent broken access control

Effective access control is a non-negotiable element of securing systems and applications from nefarious activity. Without it, countless computer systems and the applications that leverage them would be rendered useless in short order. Preventing breakdowns in access control, then, is of primary importance. In this brief guide, we examine various ways to prevent broken access control.

How to prevent broken access control: 6 key strategies

The following 6 strategies are key to ensuring the integrity of your access control mechanisms.

1: Implement RBAC or role-based access controlRBAC is a method of access control whereby access rights and privileges are assigned to roles and different roles are assigned to different users. It’s an efficient and effective way to ensure only those with a compelling reason to access a specific digital resource are able to do so.

2: Implement strong authentication mechanisms – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one way to prevent unauthorized access even in cases where a user's login credentials have been stolen or otherwise compromised. With multi-factor authentication, users are required to verify their identity above and beyond the typical username/password mechanism.

3: Practice the least privilege principle – The least privilege principle dictates that users are granted only as much access as is necessary to do their job, avoiding the practice of assigning broad-based access based on the possibility that an individual may be asked to take on additional duties at some point.

4: Perform regular access reviews – Access controls should never be considered set in stone. Quite the opposite. If you want to prevent broken access control it is imperative you perform regular access reviews. Regular reviews help ensure access control is always in line with your organization’s policies and that changes in user roles are quickly and accurately reflected in modified access permissions.

5: Implement robust monitoring and logging systemsMonitoring and logging is crucial if you are to detect and respond to unauthorized access attempts in a timely and effective fashion. Logging will also ensure that in the aftermath of the event, you have a clear record of how, where and when the incident originated.

6: Hold education and awareness sessions – It’s important that both users and administrators be kept up to speed regarding potential risks associated with broken access controls. These sessions should be part of a larger ongoing organizational effort to ensure the integrity of your digital assets from all manner of internal and external threats.

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