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Volume 15 / Issue 3

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-015-03-0538


DS RBAC - Dynamic Sessions in Role Based Access Control

Jörg R. Mühlbacher (Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)

Christian Praher (Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)

Abstract: Besides the well established access control models, Discretionary Access Control (DAC) and Mandatory Access Control (MAC), the policy neutral Role Based Access Control (RBAC) is gaining increasingly momentum. An important step towards a wide acceptance of RBAC has been achieved by the standardization of RBAC through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2004.

While the concept of sessions specified in the ANSI RBAC standard allows for differentiated role selections according to tasks that have to be performed by users, it is very likely that more roles will be activated in a session than are effectively needed to perform the intended activity. Dynamic Sessions in RBAC (DS RBAC) is an extension to the existing RBAC ANSI standard that dynamically deactivates roles in a session if they are not exercised for a certain period of time. This allows for the selection of an outer-shell of possibly needed permissions at the initation of a session through a user, while adhering to the principle of least privilege by automatically reducing the effective permission space to those roles really exercised in the session.

Analogous to the working set model known from virtual memory, only the minimal roles containing permissions recently exercised by the user are left in a session in the DS RBAC model. If the user tries to access a role that has aged out due to inactivity, a role fault occurs. A role fault can be resolved by the role fault handler that is responsible for re-activating the expired role. As will be presented in this paper, role re-activation may be subject to constraints that have to be fulfilled by the user in order to re-access the aged role.

Keywords: ANSI RBAC, Role Based Access Control, least privilege, security, session

Categories: D.4.6, K.6.5, L.4.0