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4 Types Of Access Control Systems

Nowadays, cybersecurity is such a big deal among many industries. The business industry, for one, is full of organizations that aim to secure their digital information from external threats. The same goes for the healthcare industry where patient data is handled with utmost care. Oftentimes, they protect their data or information by securing their databases and digital systems.

It’s also worth emphasizing that, in addition to cybersecurity, you should work to secure your physical address, because, like your digital system, there’s a risk of a breach.

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect a specific building or site, and an asset control system happens to be one of the best security measures you can have on a physical property.

What Is An Access Control System?

An access control system is a platform that allows you to control who can access a specific site, building, or even an object. For example, if you employ the help of access control system services, you can make it so you have a program on your building that requires individuals to show their custom identification card on an optical scanner before they can enter.

Using this technology, it should also be possible to do it on other objects or locations, such as a room, cabinet, or even an electronic box. In short, it controls who can access a specific thing.

At the moment, there are four common types of access control systems, namely:

  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
  • Rule-Based Access Control (RuBAC)

This article will be discussing each type, starting with perhaps the most common type.

  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC) Systems

A discretionary access control system, also known as a DAC system, is a type of access control that allows every member of the organization to control who can access the resources they own.

Assume you’re in charge of inventory and oversee a building’s warehouse. If anybody else in the company needs access to the warehouse, such as the delivery crew, they must come to you. You can then accept their request by giving them access to the room. Similarly, if you require access to a room they manage, they can give you the access you need.

Every room or component in a discretionary access control system has a list of personnel. These are the only ones who can access the room, and the owner can add to this list accordingly.

The list may also consist of each individual’s privileges. For example, Staff A may have the privilege to enter a room, while Staff B may be able to take items out of the inventory.

If you plan on using DAC systems, here’s a closer look at its pros and cons:


  • It’s the easiest type of access control system to set up.
  • You can effectively divvy up the responsibility throughout the entire organization.


  • Your staff can give access to their respective areas in the building to pretty much anyone, even outsiders, so a DAC system is the least secure type of ACS.
  • The collective effort to make changes in the system is relatively high.

To conclude, a DAC system allows each staff to control who can access the resources or room they own or manage, which, while convenient, isn’t as secure as other forms of ACS.

  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) Systems

Role-based access control systems, or RBAC in short, refer to a type of system that makes use of hierarchy within the organization when assigning access to certain areas in the building.

To further clarify, each role or job function has varying privileges. For instance, the owner of the organization may have access to the entirety of the building, while the typical employee may only access the main office and a few other places. Unlike in a DAC system, the system administrator is typically the only one that can make changes in the privileges granted to each role in an RBAC system. This results in varying advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few examples:


  • It’s relatively easy to make changes since every modification on the system applies to several members of the organization unless a role only applies to one person.
  • It allows for high flexibility as you can grant access according to the person’s authority.
  • You can be transparent to your employees with how you grant access.


  • The setup has a higher level of difficulty than most types of ACS.
  • There are cases where you may need to make temporary changes to the system. You might then forget to revert them, which can lead to security issues.
  • You may experience a drawback if there are too many roles in your organization.

If it’s not for you, there’s a relatively similar type of ACS that you may be interested in instead.

What Is An Access Control System?

  • Rule-Based Access Control (RuBAC) Systems

Rule-based access control or RuBAC, not to be confused with RBAC, gives you or the system administrator the ability to authorize or refuse any individual’s attempt to access a resource according to pre-determined rules. It’s fairly similar to RBAC, except rather than setting the person’s ‘roles’ as the main rule, you can be more flexible with your rule-making.

An excellent example of a RuBAC system is when you permit access to your employees to the warehouse or any particular area of the building only at certain times of the day or week.

The pre-determined rules are often controlled solely by the owner or administrator, but there may be some helpers as well. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of ACS:


  • The possibilities for how you want to authorize or refuse attempts of access are limitless.
  • You don’t have to make changes for each person or resource. You only need to modify the rules so it works the same way as you intended.


  • It’s a fairly simple ACS, so breaches are highly likely.
  • Implementation is also relatively difficult, but maintenance, not so much.
  • You may find it difficult to recover from a mistake you make during implementation.

The flexibility of RuBAC is off the charts, but it’s inferior to RBAC when it comes to the level of security. Speaking of which, the last type is the most secure type of access control system.

  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC) Systems

A mandatory access control (MAC) system is arguably the type of ACS with the strictest rules, albeit its simple mechanics. A MAC system makes use of two factors when determining whether a person can access a certain part of the building. These are the (1) classification and (2) categories. Examples of classification include top-secret, confidential, or something along those lines, while category indicates the department with access to the resource.

Similarly, each individual has a classification and category. Before one can access a specific room or resource, these two factors should match with that of the resource they’re trying to access.

It’s worth noting that the system is managed solely by the system administrator, further providing why it’s the most secure type of access control system you can implement for your building.


  • MAC systems are the most secure type as only the administrator can make changes.
  • It’s less likely to make mistakes with a MAC system in place.


  • The implementation of a MAC system may require great time and effort.
  • This type of ACS requires a regular checks, updates, and maintenance.
  • You’re essentially putting all the responsibilities to one person, which can be stressful.

Wrapping up

When choosing a type of access control system, you must consider several factors, such as the level of security, convenience, and ease of implementation. Also, you must remember that an ACS should only act as a cog to your entire security infrastructure and not the sole security measure. In short, it’d be best to incorporate it with other security strategies.

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