Discretionary Access Control (DAC) is a security model that allows the system owner or data owner to exercise control over access permissions and determine who can access specific resources or data within a system. In DAC, the owner has the discretion to grant or revoke access rights to individuals or groups based on their identities, roles, or relationships.
Discretionary Access Control (DAC) key points:
- Owner’s Authority: In a DAC system, the system owner has the authority to grant or deny access rights to resources. The owner can determine the level of access that users or groups have to files, directories, applications, or other system resources.
- Access Permissions: DAC uses access control lists (ACLs) or access control matrices (ACMs) to define and enforce access permissions. These permissions specify the actions (such as read, write, execute, delete) that individuals or groups can perform on specific resources.
- Access Based on Identity: DAC typically grants or denies access based on the identity of users or groups. Each user or group is associated with a set of permissions that determine their level of access to resources.
- Flexibility and Ownership: DAC provides flexibility to the system owner, as they have complete control over resource access. The owner can assign different access levels to different users based on their trust, job roles, or other factors, allowing for fine-grained control.
- Limitations: DAC’s primary limitation is its reliance on the system owner’s discretion. The owner must actively manage access permissions, which can become cumbersome and prone to errors in large systems with numerous users and resources.
- Individual Responsibility: DAC places the responsibility of managing access on the system owner, requiring them to regularly review and update access permissions as needed. This allows the owner to ensure that access remains appropriate and aligned with changing requirements.
- Inheriting Access: In some DAC systems, access rights can be inherited from parent resources. For example, if a user has access to a parent folder, they may automatically inherit access to the subfolders and files within it unless explicitly restricted.
- Audit and Accountability: DAC systems can track and record access events, providing an audit trail for monitoring and accountability purposes. This enables the system owner to review access activities and identify any unauthorized or suspicious actions.
Discretionary Access Control provides a flexible approach to access control, where the system owner has the authority to grant or deny access permissions to individuals or groups based on their discretion. By managing access rights effectively, DAC allows for secure and controlled access to system resources while ensuring the system owner maintains control over their data and resources.