HEAD Metamodel: Hierarchical, Extensible, Advanced, and Dynamic Access Control Metamodel for Dynamic and Heterogeneous Structures

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Sep 29;21(19):6507. doi: 10.3390/s21196507.


The substantial advancements in information technologies have brought unprecedented concepts and challenges to provide solutions and integrate advanced and self-ruling systems in critical and heterogeneous structures. The new generation of networking environments (e.g., the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, etc.) are dynamic and ever-evolving environments. They are composed of various private and public networks, where all resources are distributed and accessed from everywhere. Protecting resources by controlling access to them is a complicated task, especially with the presence of cybercriminals and cyberattacks. What makes this reality also challenging is the diversity and the heterogeneity of access control (AC) models, which are implemented and integrated with a countless number of information systems. The evolution of ubiquitous computing, especially the concept of Industry 4.0 and IoT applications, imposes the need to enhance AC methods since the traditional methods are not able to answer the increasing demand for privacy and security standards. To address this issue, we propose a Hierarchical, Extensible, Advanced, and Dynamic (HEAD) AC metamodel for dynamic and heterogeneous structures that is able to encompass the heterogeneity of the existing AC models. Various AC models can be derived, and different static and dynamic AC policies can be generated using its components. We use Eclipse (xtext) to define the grammar of our AC metamodel. We illustrate our approach with several successful instantiations for various models and hybrid models. Additionally, we provide some examples to show how some of the derived models can be implemented to generate AC policies.

Keywords: Industry 4.0; IoT; access control; heterogeneous; hierarchy; metamodel; policy; security and privacy.