In existing RBAC literature, administrative privileges are inherited just like ordinary user privileges. We argue that from a security viewpoint this is too restrictive, and we believe that a more flexible approach can be very useful in practice. We define an ordering on the set of administrative privileges, enabling us to extend the standard privilege inheritance relation in a natural way. This means that if a user has a particular administrative privilege, then she is also implicitly authorized for weaker administrative privileges. We prove the non-trivial result that it is possible to decide whether one administrative privilege is weaker than another and show how this result can be used to decide administrative requests in an RBAC security monitor.
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