The Three Types of Access Control

Access control is exactly what it sounds like: Someone controls who can get in a building, like a hotel room that can be entered by key card. You’ve probably dealt with access control at some point in your life, and what you might not know is that there are three types of access control.

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Discretionary access control (DAC) is where the control falls on the building owner. The owner is the one who decides who gets inside specific locations. It’s the least restrictive, and the easiest to manage as only the business owner holds the keys.

Mandatory access control (MAC) is very restrictive and is mostly used for military and government organizations. Basically, everyone who is supposed to be in the system is given ID’s and labels to get them into certain areas, and that’s it. So, if I’m not an employee of company A, then with MAC I can’t get in. If I were an employee, I’d be given clearance to go where I am supposed to go and that’s that.

The last type of access control is Role Based Access Control, and it is the most common for homes and businesses. Where you go is based on your role, so If I’m a scientist for company B, then I get access to the science labs and common areas. But I wouldn’t be able to go up to the boss’s office for example.

This makes it easy for security managers because they can assign clearance based on roles. Workmen go here, scientists go here, executives go here, and they can be given clearance to get them to those places.