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Authorization and access control of application data in Workflow systems

Wu, S. and Sheth, A. and Miller, J. and Luo, Z. (2002) Authorization and access control of application data in Workflow systems. Journal of Intelligent Information Systems, 18 (1). pp. 71-94. ISSN 0925-9902

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Workflow Management Systems (WfMSs) are used to support the modeling and coordinated execution of business processes within an organization or across organizational boundaries. Although some research efforts have addressed requirements for authorization and access control for workflow systems, little attention has been paid to the requirements as they apply to application data accessed or managed by WfMSs. In this paper, we discuss key access control requirements for application data in workflow applications using examples from the healthcare domain, introduce a classification of application data used in workflow systems by analyzing their sources, and then propose a comprehensive data authorization and access control mechanism for WfMSs. This involves four aspects: role, task, process instance-based user group, and data content. For implementation, a predicate-based access control method is used. We believe that the proposed model is applicable to workflow applications and WfMSs with diverse access control requirements.