Privileges – CompTIA Security+ SY0-401: 5.3

User rights and permissions can be complex to manage. In this video, you’ll learn about user management, group management, and role-based management techniques.

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In many ways getting someone authenticated to the network is the easy part. Once they get here, we need to make sure they have the right privileges to access the resources that they need to be able to do their job. And it’s a challenge to keep track of all of these things.

We have to figure out what rights a user might have to a folder, to a file. We need to make sure maybe they only have read access to a certain part of the network, but read and write access to another, and there’s all kinds of overlapping policies associated with this.

So we don’t know if there’s operating system changes, things that are associated with their group permissions, their permissions associated with the user they might be using. The individual file might have rights and permissions associated with this, and all of those interact together. To be able to set some of these privilege we do a privilege management type for user management, group management, and role-based management.

User management is something that’s very easy to do. It’s done on a user by user basis, very simple, but it’s also very unsophisticated. There’s not a lot of flexibility that we have with that. We go to a specific user, we grant them specific rights, and you’re done. You’ve now created the rights and permissions and privileges for that user. This is something we go to each individual user, and we carve out exactly what rights and what privileges they might have.

Obviously this becomes a little bit difficult to manage, especially if you need to make one tiny change, you have to go into each individual user account to make that change. So obviously, this is not something that’s going to scale very well. If you have a large environment, you could be spending all day going into every single user account and changing every privilege for every person in the organization.

Group management is a little bit different. For group management we’re setting privileges on what you as an individual are doing in the organization. We may put many different people into a group. Maybe we have an accounting group, a marketing group, a shipping and receiving group, and we set privileges for the entire group all at once. And If we need to change or modify those privileges, we’re doing it for everyone who might be in that particular group.

If somebody needs the privileges, somebody joins the marketing department, we put them in the marketing group, and like magic they suddenly have access to everything the marketing group needs access to. So it makes a little bit more of that administrative process much more streamlined for us.

Now users can, of course, be members of multiple groups. You may be in the marketing group, but you might also be in the Florida group, or you might also be in the east coast group. There’s three groups right there, and there may be different permissions for the exact same resources in each one of those groups.

So now you have to figure out what are those effective permissions. If you’re in the marketing department, you need read and write access. If you’re in the east coast group maybe you need read access. Which one takes priority? And what takes priority is really dependent on the operating system and the methods that you use for those operating systems to determine that.

So it’s not quite as straightforward as you might think, but as long as you understand what’s involved in trying to calculate or determine those effective permissions, this becomes a very nice way to be able to control a lot of different rights and permissions all at the same time.

Role-based management takes this idea one step further where we’re really setting some very fine grain controls for what people do in the organization. So perhaps instead of having a big marketing group, maybe I have a field marketing group, maybe I have a technical marketing group. Those two people are in the marketing department, and they have the exact same rights and permissions for marketing, but maybe I need to break them out and have different controls for really their roles within the organization.

We also might want to think about how we’re going to create these because you could end up creating a lot of different roles. Obviously a lot more administration associated with this, because you could have HR managers, you could have accounting analysts, you could have IT project managers. There’s a lot of different ways to go with the role-based management infrastructure, but it makes it very easy if you need to move people in and out of different permissions and rights as their role changes.

And in some organizations you’re required to move from role to role to role at different times of the year. So from an administrative perspective, we can simply add people to new roles, and now all of the different privileges move with that user as they move into the new role.

And of course, you need to keep in mind in this particular role-based management, you’re only going to be a member of one specific role. You can’t be a member of multiples. That’s not the idea behind this. This is something where we’re recreating very fine grain control, and therefore, you’re only going to be part of one role at a time.