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PBAC: Policy-Based Access Control

PBAC: Policy-Based Access Control

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In today’s digital landscape, data security has become a critical concern for organizations of all sizes. As data grows and becomes more complex, traditional access control methods may not provide enough protection. This is where Policy-Based Access Control (PBAC) comes into play.

PBAC is an advanced approach to access control that offers granular, dynamic, and context-aware security policies. In this article, we will explore the basics of PBAC, its benefits, and the tools used to implement it effectively.

What is PBAC?

Policy-Based Access Control is a security model that relies on predefined policies to govern access to resources. These rules depend on things like user roles, types of devices, locations, time of day, and other important factors. PBAC improves upon traditional RBAC by including more detailed and context-specific rules. This allows organizations to enforce fine-grained access control based on their unique security requirements.

Benefits of PBAC:

  1. Granular Control: PBAC enables organizations to define precise access rules based on various attributes. This level of detail makes sure users can only access what they need, lowering the chance of unauthorized access.
  2. Flexibility: Users can easily modify and adapt policies in PBAC to changing security needs. As organizations evolve and new threats arise, PBAC allows you to easily adjust access rules without extensive reconfiguration.
  3. Context-Awareness: PBAC considers the context in which individuals make access requests. A policy may grant access to important data only when the user is on a secure network. Restrict access during work hours. This context-awareness enhances security by considering factors beyond user roles.

Tools for Implementing PBAC

To effectively implement PBAC, organizations can leverage various tools and technologies. Some commonly used tools include:

  1. Policy Engines: Policy engines are software components that evaluate access requests against predefined policies. They decide whether to grant or deny a request based on the applicable policies. Examples of policy engines include XACML (eXtensible Access Control Markup Language) and OPA (Open Policy Agent).
  2. Identity and Access Management (IAM) Systems: IAM systems play a crucial role in PBAC by managing user identities, roles, and permissions. They provide a centralized platform for defining and enforcing access control policies across multiple applications and resources. Examples of IAM systems include Okta, OneLogin, and Azure Active Directory.
  3. Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) Models: ABAC is a subset of PBAC that focuses on using attributes to define access control policies. You can control access based on job title, department, data classification, and time or location. Tools like AWS IAM and Axiomatics provide ABAC capabilities.

Example of PBAC in Action

Let’s consider a healthcare organization that needs to protect patient data. Using PBAC, they can define policies like:

  • Doctors can access patient records only for patients under their care.
  • Nurses can view patient records but cannot modify them.
  • Administrative staff can access non-sensitive patient information for billing purposes.
  • Authorized devices within the hospital network restrict access to patient records.

To implement these policies, the organization can use an IAM system to manage user roles and permissions. They can also employ a policy engine like XACML to evaluate access requests against the defined policies.

The system checks if a patient is assigned to a doctor before granting access to the patient’s file. It also confirms if the doctor is utilizing a sanctioned device within the hospital’s network. You can only access it if you satisfy all these criteria.


Policy-Based Access Control offers a powerful and flexible approach to data security. Organizations can ensure tight control over access to sensitive information by defining granular, context-aware policies.

PBAC helps organizations implement strong security measures. You can achieve this with the right tools and technologies. These measures are able to adapt to new threats and changing business needs.

DataSunrise is a user-friendly and flexible solution for implementing PBAC and other data security measures. DataSunrise offers a comprehensive suite of tools for database security, data masking, and compliance.

With its intuitive interface and high availability configuration, DataSunrise simplifies the process of securing sensitive data across various databases. Contact DataSunrise to schedule an online demo and see how our solutions can improve your organization’s data security.


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