There are two types of access control: physical and logical.
Physical access control limits access to campuses, buildings, rooms and physical IT assets. Logical access control limits connections to computer networks, system files and data.
To secure a facility, organizations use electronic access control systems that rely on user credentials, access card readers, auditing and reports to track employee access to restricted business locations and proprietary areas, such as data centers. Some of these systems incorporate access control panels to restrict entry to rooms and buildings, as well as alarms and lockdown capabilities, to prevent unauthorized access or operations.
Logical access control systems perform identification authentication and authorization of users and entities by evaluating required login credentials that can include passwords, personal identification numbers, biometric scans, security tokens or other authentication factors. Multifactor authentication (MFA), which requires two or more authentication factors, is often an important part of a layered defense to protect access control systems.
Why is access control important?
The goal of access control is to minimize the security risk of unauthorized access to physical and logical systems. Access control is a fundamental component of security compliance programs that ensures security technology and access control policies are in place to protect confidential information, such as customer data. Most organizations have infrastructure and procedures that limit access to networks, computer systems, applications, files and sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information and intellectual property.
Access control systems are complex and can be challenging to manage in dynamic IT environments that involve on-premises systems and cloud services. After high-profile breaches, technology vendors have shifted away from single sign-on systems to unified access management, which offers access controls for on-premises and cloud environments.