Authorization is just as important as authentication in directory services.

As discussed in our authentication article, the process of determining the identity of a user is called authentication. However, there is another more granular aspect to controlling access to IT resources, and that process is called authorization.

Working in conjunction with authentication, authorization determines the level of access you have based on your identity.

For example, a server can have multiple levels of access. There can be root level access, read access, read/write access, and file/directory level. An IT application could have admin level access where the administrator can create and terminate other users, make any changes to the system or configuration, or even delegate other system administrators. Conversely, a user of that application may only have read level access. All of these differing levels of access are part of a system’s authorization.

Authorization is inherently linked to security. It’s key to reducing human errors in application access, ensuring security, and sticking to compliancy regulations. For instance, a business may only want to give users the level of access that they need to accomplish their jobs. For example, a billing specialist that needs to run a billing report out a system should not need to have administrator level access to the financial system – only read level access in the billing system.

At the same time, authorization should limit user access to minimize the effects of human errors, mishaps, or malintent. A malicious user with too much privilege could harm a system or even an organization. Additionally, a root level user has the ability to destroy an entire system with even a single command. Compliance regulations are keenly aware of the risks with access control and specify a number of controls to cover for those risks. In fact, a core part of virtually every security compliance regulation is the concept of the least privilege account. Through systematic authorization, each user is given the least privileges possible in order for them to accomplish their job function.

There are challenges, though, associated with authorization. Specifically, it’s hard to manage. Different systems have differing access controls, and, as a result, IT admins are often forced to manually manage individual levels of access. This is a time consuming process and prone to error.

Similar systems have standardized some aspects of authorization. For instance, all Linux servers have the concept of root, sudo, and system users. These broad controls help IT admins more easily bucket individual users, but still don’t solve the challenge of management overhead.

JumpCloud, the first cloud-based directory, addresses common problems associated with authorization, while maintaining all the benefits.

JumpCloud users can be granted administrative permissions to a company’s various IT assets, including individual, differing levels of access. To simplify the process, users can also be bundled into groups around similar job functions for similar access rights. More importantly, JumpCloud integrates with a myriad of operating systems (not just Microsoft).

  • When it comes to Linux systems, IT admins that leverage JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® can grant sudo level access.
  • Or on Windows systems, JumpCloud can distinguish between admin users and system users.
  • And finally with Macs, JumpCloud helps IT admins create admin and user accounts on Macs.

Additionally, through JumpCloud’s LDAP interface, organizations can leverage groups to create different levels of authorization on systems as well as applications.

Authorization is a critical component to connecting users with their IT resources, but shouldn’t have unyielding challenges associated with it at every step. JumpCloud’s solution not only represents smart business, but helps effectively meet security and compliance regulations.