Role-based access control, or RBAC, is an approach for restricting access to digital resources based on a user’s role in an organization. For instance, under RBAC, a company’s accountant should be able to access corporate financial records but not the content management system used to update the company’s website, while those permissions would be reversed for that company’s web development team.
Just about every organization enforces some kind of access controls on its digital assets—indeed, every operating system in use today has access controls built in. Access controls generally grant specific permissions to (and impose restrictions on) individual users or groups that those users might belong to. What distinguishes the RBAC model from other forms of access control is that the users are grouped together based on the roles they play, and permissions are determined primarily by those roles, rather than being tailored for each individual user. In this article, you’ll learn how RBAC works, and see the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.