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What is Attribute-Based Access Control? ABAC meaning


The more established RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) paradigm has advanced into ABAC (Attribute-Based Access Control). It supports in the utilization of different attributes for a more precise technique. Now that user, environment, and resource attributes are an option, SaaS organizations can address more complicated use cases. How about we talk about ABAC meaning before moving on to other topics like ABAC example?

What is Attribute-Based Access Control? ABAC meaning

What is attribute-based access control?

An authorization paradigm called attribute-based access control (ABAC) characterizes access control policies regarding attributes, including resources, objects, environments, and user attributes. ABAC creates access rules with if-then statements that indicate the user, the request, the resource, and the activity utilizing Boolean logic.

Permit read-write access to financial information, assuming the requester is an accountant.

Involving specific credits as per specific business requests and administrative limitations, ABAC empowers associations to foster dynamic, setting mindful access control strategies. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) delivered a bunch of standard suggestions that characterize how to execute ABAC in a venture set after the US Federal Government proclaimed it to be a Priority Objective for implementation.

Components of attribute-based access control

  • Subject/user attributes

The individual making the solicitation to involve a resource for a particular intention is the subject. For example, a user profile’s subject attributes might contain ID, work roles, group memberships, departmental and organizational affiliations, management level, security clearance, and other distinctive attributes. ABAC systems habitually get this data from a catalog or an HR system, or they might get it from the authentication tokens that users use to sign in.

  • Resources/object attributes

The asset or item that the subject needs to access is known as the resource. Examples includes a file, application, server, or programming interface. An individual file’s creation date, proprietor, file name, type, and information sensitivity are proofs of resource properties. For example, the asset you would have to get to your online bank account would be “bank account = right account number>.”

  • Action

What the user is endeavoring to perform with the resource is the action. The words “read,” “write,” “edit,” “copy,” and “delete” are often utilized as activity credits. At times a solitary activity can be depicted by various characteristics. Keeping with the internet banking outline, an exchange solicitation could have the subtleties “activity type = move” and “sum = $200.”

  • Environmental attributes

Each access demand is being put inside its current environment. Every environmental factor is related to significant aspects, such as the time and place of an access attempt, the device the subject it’s using, the communication protocol, and the encryption strength. In addition, relevant information may include risk indications identified by the connection, such as the reliability of the source and a subject's propensities for routine behavior.

How do attributes work in ABAC?

The characteristics or potential gains of a section drawn in with an entrance occasion are known as its credits. Interestingly, ABAC compliance checks out these parts' attributes in contrast with rules. For the subject to effectively play out an activity with the item, these rules demonstrate which property mixes are permitted.

Each ABAC arrangement could look at credits inside an environment and power rules and associations, considering how they team up inside the environment. While sorting out which access conditions are permitted or not, policies consider qualities.

How about we take the following approach, for example:

"The subject should have read-and-write access to media strategy for the business units they represent if they are in a communications job function.”

At the time an access request is performed, the ABAC system checks characteristic values for compliance with specified policies. An access demand with the qualities listed below should be approved regardless of how long the aforementioned regulation is in effect:

Subject’s “job role” = “communications”
Subject’s “business unit” = “marketing”
Action = “edit”
Resource “type” = “media strategy document”
Resource “business unit” = “marketing”

ABAC empowers administrators to lay out a fine-grained, policy-based access control, permitting them to make conditions of access that are as narrow or as wide as the case demands by joining different attribute blends.

attribute-based access control example
Attribute-based access control example

The advantages and disadvantages of ABAC

An ABAC system has various advantages that help security gains for your organization. Here are some:

  • They have a designated security approach.

ABAC offers access-given attributes rather than role-based access control, which licenses access based on roles. This empowers an exceptionally fitting way to deal with information security. Moreover, ABAC considers various elements while making access, so it guarantees an extra layer of safety that RBAC can’t.

A sales agent, for example, will constantly approach deals prospect information whenever permitted access because RBAC puts together access concerning a user’s role. Whereas, in an ABAC situation, their access may be restricted, relying upon specific characteristics, like a place, time of day, and conduct (seeing, altering, erasing information). ABAC empowers user administrators to concentrate on various attributes as access markers, raising the degree of safety at each access point.

  • Dynamic access control.

ABAC lays out access because of attributes rather than RBAC, which gives access based on roles. ABAC may take one strategy and powerfully apply it to various roles rather than doing roles for every prospective user of the system. This is with the goal that ABAC can permit access given different factors instead of only a role.

RBAC systems should establish distinct roles for each sales professional so that they can each access particular information in a circumstance involving role-based access. For example, you can set up a solitary role in ABAC systems that gives all sales representatives access to the information (asset/object). Although this probably won’t seem secure right away, it is safer than customary RBAC. This is because ABAC defines policies utilizing different properties. For instance, a user admin may set a limitation to give access to the information only for agents who operate in a particular industry or who have closed a certain amount of transactions.

Let’s take a look at the downside of ABAC security.

Applying ABAC to your information security program is quite easy whenever it has been installed. Though, it can be challenging to incorporate. Defining countless attributes, making rules and guidelines, and carrying out the implementation are important to complete execution. Numerous hours and materials are required. However, ABAC is extremely protected and versatile whenever it is set up.


ABAC do depend on attributes, while RBAC authenticates user access because of roles. Although both get an opportunity to work perfectly, ABAC is definitely more versatile than RBAC.


The principal pro of RBAC systems is that they decide on provisioning and de-provisioning because of roles as opposed to individual users. While making many positions is incredible for a little firm, it isn’t versatile as your business develops.


ABAC’s principal benefit is that it makes access because of its attributes. Rather than just provisioning access because of roles, this empowers more significant levels of access security. Its complexity is the main disadvantage, as was recently shown. Yet, after execution, its critical benefits are higher than the downsides.

ABAC and Cloud storage

One of the access models that top cloud suppliers offer is ABAC. This is how ABAC has been carried out by the two top suppliers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

  1. AWS

ABAC is a part of Amazon Web Services (AWS) identity access management (IAM) service, a cloud computing supplier. The AWS ABAC works as follows:

  • Append attributes to IAM assets and IAM entities like roles and users as tags.
  • Make an ABAC policy or policies for IAM principals.
  • Configure AWS ABAC policies to empower assignments when a principal’s tag matches an asset tag.

ABAC succeeds in confounded policy management situations and environments that are encountering fast development. Associations might manage access to AWS assets utilizing AWS ABAC, permitting groups and assets to extend with fewer adjustments to AWS policies. While expecting a role or uniting a user, it empowers you to pass session tags, after which you can build policies that utilize tag condition keys to give principals approval.

Organizations that use an identity provider (IdP) based on SAML can develop fine-grained access control inside the AWS cloud utilizing SAML properties. For example, the cost center identities, project assignments, departmental assignments, and user email addresses are instances of SAML properties. These attributes can be used to limit AWS access by being sent as session tags.

  1. Azure

Access control management options from Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing supplier, including RBAC and ABAC. The Azure RBAC authorization system utilizes role definitions and role assignments to manage access to Azure assets. By adding attributes-based role assignment conditions to specific activities, Azure ABAC develops Azure RBAC.

To provide more precise access control, you may add a role assignment condition as an extra check to a role assignment. The agreement to a role description and role assignment can be filtered by a condition. It enables you to ascertain a requirement that specifies that an object must have a certain tag to be read. You cannot expressly use conditions to restrict access to particular assets.

By using Azure ABAC, you may reduce the number of role assignments. For Azure subscriptions, there is currently a role assignment cap. It could include managing a variety of role assignments in some circumstances. Add restrictions to limit the number of role allocations.

How to implement ABAC in your business?

  • Outline the costs
  • Consider the benefits associated with getting new functions or creating existing one’s benefits related to transitioning away from old innovations.
  • Map any extra dangers that ABAC might have introduced.
  • Perceive the administration structures expected to control shared capacities and strategy documentation
  • List each dataset, application, network, and system that needs ABAC support.



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February 26, 2024
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