The Evolution of Authorization Controls: Exploring PBAC & Its Benefits

Gal Helemski
June 13, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of authorization controls, PlainID has emerged as a pioneer by being one of the first to introduce PBAC (Policy-Based Access Control) to the market. I recently participated in a panel discussion at EIC in Berlin, which shed light on the significance of PBAC, emphasizing its evolution from ACL to RBAC, ABAC, and finally, PBAC. In this blog post, I will delve into the concept of PBAC and highlight the key advantages that make it more than just a "marketing term."

Understanding PBAC

PBAC represents a significant step forward in authorization control methodologies. It builds upon the foundations laid by its predecessors, namely Access Control Lists (ACLs), Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), and Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) by taking a more holistic approach, integrating the strengths of each model while addressing their limitations.

Top Reasons to Consider PBAC:

  1. Efficiency in Authorization Controls: PBAC offers the most efficient and effective means of managing authorization controls. By leveraging policy-based mechanisms, organizations can define and enforce access rules in a centralized manner, reducing complexity and ensuring consistency across systems.

  2. Simplified Development Life Cycle: With PBAC's policy-as-code approach, the development life cycle is simplified. Policies can be defined and managed as code, making it easier to version control, test, and deploy authorization rules. This streamlined process enhances agility and reduces time to market for applications.

  3. Dynamic and Real-Time Authorization Decisions: PBAC enables dynamic and real-time authorization decisions based on contextual information. By considering factors such as user attributes, resource characteristics, and environmental variables, PBAC ensures that access is granted or denied in a highly granular and context-aware manner.

  4. Enhanced Visibility: PBAC provides visibility into the reasoning behind access decisions. Organizations can gain insights into why a particular access request was approved or denied, aiding in auditing, compliance, and governance efforts. This transparency enhances accountability and facilitates better decision-making. 

During the panel discussion, one member shared an insightful perspective, stating, "In the absence of policies, all access is an exception." This notion underscores the importance of having well-defined and enforced policies to govern access, rather than relying on ad-hoc exceptions.


The emergence of PBAC is a significant milestone in authorization controls because it brings forth numerous advantages for organizations. Its efficient management of access controls, simplified development life cycle, dynamic decision-making capabilities, and enhanced visibility make it a valuable solution in the modern era of cybersecurity. By embracing PBAC, organizations can bolster their security posture, improve compliance, and ensure seamless access management. As the landscape continues to evolve, PBAC stands as a testament to the continuous innovation and refinement of authorization control methodologies.

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