Quick Overview:
The Security of your business application ranks above all the other factors within your business domain. To ensure this security within your applications these days a few Authentication and Authorization practices have taken up the trail delivering security for these business applications worldwide. In this blog post, we will look at one such security practice known as Role Based Authorization in .NET Core.

What is Role Based Authorization?

Role based authorization as the name suggests is a type of authorization in ASP.NET Core where the user has access to specific resources within the application. The [Authorize] attribute when declared in the Controller or any such action methods, restricts the users based on the role settings. For example, the Delete method is accessible only to the users who have the Role ‘SuperAdmin’ assigned to them, and so on. Let us take a glimpse of the code below to better understand it.

[Authorize]
// Only the authorized (logged In) users can access the ProductsController else it redirects to the login page or shows 401 UnAuthorized Exception
public class ProductsController : Controller
{
    public ActionResult View()
// Any Logged In User irrespective of the role can view the product list
    {  }
    [Authorize(Roles = "Administrator,SuperAdmin")]
// Only the Admin or SuperAdmin can create new products
    public ActionResult Create()
    {   }
    [Authorize(Roles = "SuperAdmin")]
// Only SuperAdmin can delete resources
    public ActionResult Delete()
    {   }
    [Authorize(Roles = "Administrator")]
    [Authorize(Roles = "SuperAdmin")]
// For any feature that can be accessible to users who are both Admin and SUperAdmin
    public ActionResult SpecialFeature()
    {   }
}

Limitations of Role Based Authorization in .NET Core

As we know that nothing in this world is perfect, so is the case with the Role based authorization in .NET Core, let us look at a few of them:

Static Role Assignment

The Role based authorization involves the static assignment of roles to the users. This means that as soon as a user is assigned a role, their access permissions are then determined completely by that said role making it difficult to accommodate dynamic changes in the user privileges or the ad-hoc assignment.

Limited To User Roles

The Role based authorization is primarily focused on the user roles and the permissions associated with it. Thus, it is not an ideal option for scenarios where access control needs to be dependent on multiple factors such as specific resources, attributes, context, or relationships between the users and the resources.

Coarse-Grained Control

The Role based authorization in .NET Core generally offers a coarse-grained control over the access permission, which is based on broad categories of roles rather than the individual permissions or attributes, which thereby, makes it complex for scenarios that need extensive access control.

Maintenance Overhead

As your business application scales and grows within the market, the roles along with the permission associated withbecome complex and hard to handle. This leads to the maintenance overhead, especially within large systems with multiple roles and permissions.

Lack of Context Sensitivity

The role-based authentication in .NET Core generally lacks in the domain of context sensitivity as it does not consider contextual information such as the user’s current session, environmental factors, or the business rules when you are making access control decisions.

Complexity in Handling Hierarchical Roles

The Role based authorization generally follows a hierarchical structure where the roles are responsible for inheriting permissions from higher-level roles. This generally simplifies the permission management, further, it may not always align with the actual access control requirements of your business application.

Limited Support For Multi-Tenancy

The Role based authorization sometimes leads to struggle in terms of accommodating multi-tenancy scenarios where the single application here serves multiple tenants with diverse access control needs. The customization and the scoping of the roles for every tenant is a challenging factor, this often requires add-on customizations or integration with the other authorization mechanisms.

When To Use Role Based Authorization In .NET Core

The Role based authorization offers a powerful and flexible way to manage the access control within your web applications. Below are a few conditions where leveraging the Role based authorization can be of the essence.

Different User Role and Permissions

When you have a business application having multiple distinct user roles such as Admin, User, Editor, or more every role has its own specific set of permissions and levels of access.

Example: The admin has the access to modify, edit, or alter all the data, whereas, the Editors can only modify the content and the users on the other hand only have the access to view the content.

Complex Access Control Requirements

For business applications where access control is not binary or in simple terms it’s more challenging than login or logout but comparatively more complex. The Role based authorization here enables you to define the complex rules about who can do what within your business application.

User Management Scalability

When your business application is destined to observe an exponential growth curve in terms of user base and roles, Role based authorization offers a scalable way by which you can manage the permission without the hurdle of having to update the complete codebase constantly. The roles and permissions here can be managed more dynamically.

Code Simplification For Permission Checks

The Role based authorization helps simplify the code by allowing you to annotate the controllers or the actions with the roles, making it easier to manage compared to that of having complex if-else statements throughout your code for checking the permissions.

Security and Compliance Requirements

When your business application needs to comply with a few security standards or regulations that need strict access control and audit trails. The Role based authorization can help ensure that only the authorized users can access the sensitive operations or the data.

Dynamic Role Assignment and Management

For the cases where the roles and permission might change frequently there, you need to assign the roles dynamically depending on several criteria such as user location, subscription level, and, more.

Conclusion

Thus, we can conclude that the Role based authorization in .NET Core offers a foundational approach to access control in applications. Though it offers a simplified mechanism for managing user access based on predefined roles, it has its set of limitations, however, ideally implementing it the right way can help secure your business applications for a secure future. However, as a business owner, you can also get in touch with a leading company like Positiwise and get started with Authentication and Authorization in .NET Core for your business application today.

Parag Mehta

Verified Expert in Software & Web App Engineering

Parag Mehta, the CEO and Founder of Positiwise Software Pvt Ltd has extensive knowledge of the development niche. He is implementing custom strategies to craft highly-appealing and robust applications for its clients and supporting employees to grow and ace the tasks. He is a consistent learner and always provides the best-in-quality solutions, accelerating productivity.

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