Access control (AC) policies are a set of rules administering decisions in systems and they are increasingly used for implementing flexible and adaptive systems to control access in today’s internet services, networks, security systems, and others. The emergence of the current generation of networking environments, with digital transformation, such as the internet of things (IoT), fog computing, cloud computing, etc., with their different applications, bring out new trends, concepts, and challenges to integrate more advanced and intelligent systems in critical and heterogeneous structures. This fact, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted a greater need than ever for AC due to widespread telework and the need to access resources and data related to critical domains such as government, healthcare, industry, and others, and any successful cyber or physical attack can disrupt operations or even decline critical services to society. Moreover, various declarations have announced that the world of AC is changing fast, and the pandemic made AC feel more essential than in the past. To minimize security risks of any unauthorized access to physical and logical systems, before and during the pandemic, several AC approaches are proposed to find a common specification for security policy where AC is implemented in various dynamic and heterogeneous computing environments. Unfortunately, the proposed AC models and metamodels have limited features and are insufficient to meet the current access control requirements. In this context, we have developed a Hierarchical, Extensible, Advanced, and Dynamic (HEAD) AC metamodel with substantial features that is able to encompass the heterogeneity of AC models, overcome the existing limitations of the proposed AC metamodels, and follow the various technology progressions. In this paper, we explain the distinct design of the HEAD metamodel, starting from the metamodel development phase and reaching to the policy enforcement phase. We describe the remaining steps and how they can be employed to develop more advanced features in order to open new opportunities and answer the various challenges of technology progressions and the impact of the pandemic in the domain. As a result, we present a novel approach in five main phases: metamodel development, deriving models, generating policies, policy analysis and assessment, and policy enforcement. This approach can be employed to assist security experts and system administrators to design secure systems that comply with the organizational security policies that are related to access control.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited