Top Five Best Practices For User Access Reviews

Akitra - Compliance Automation Platform

In today’s digitalized corporate environment, businesses are liable for losing data in the event of unprecedented security disasters. External factors may not be under their control, but organizations can monitor their internal functions. 

Businesses handle various internal changes daily, such as hiring and firing employees, staff reassignment and turnover in general, technology advancements, and third-party projects. The way the firm operates daily may also change due to these changes that affect the information systems.

This is where regular user access reviews and access certifications become of paramount importance. It is only sometimes possible to track which employee has what kind of sensitive information. 

Therefore, access rights need to be regularly reviewed to avoid privilege abuse and unnecessary licensing costs. These rights give users access to crucial information and resources; thus, they must be handled well to maintain compliance with legal requirements and other security policies.

In this blog, we will discuss different types of user access reviews and outline five best practices that you must follow to ensure that no employee or vendor has inappropriate or excessive access to confidential data.

What is User Access Reviews?

In data security, user access reviews are the process by which an entity examines and verifies the rights and privileges given to people to access digital systems, networks, and data. It lowers the possibility of unauthorized access and data breaches by ensuring that only authorized users have the proper and essential access. 

User access reviews or access certifications are driven by internal governance and risk management standards and external compliance requirements. Some of these requirements apply to certain industries, such as HIPAA, GLBA, PCI DSS, SOC 2, etc., while others are international, such as ISO/IEC 27001. 

Now, let’s understand what goals access certification specifically targets.

What is the Primary Objective of Access Certification or User Access Reviews?

Authorizations and permissions are usually reviewed to verify the validity and correctness of the access rights granted to users so they can access and use an organization’s information systems (IS). These kinds of reviews aim to clarify the following specifically:

  • Who within the organization has access to what resources;
  • The degree of access granted to each user;
  • The given, authorized, and allocated permissions; and,
  • Any access privileges that are thought to be illegal or inappropriate.

Access certification covers all access rights, including those given to outside workers and other parties like contractors and business partners. Databases, apps, shared files, networks, and the organization’s infrastructure may all be subject to this access. Within the parameters of their responsibilities, business line managers and application owners are in charge of the sophisticated monitoring and validation of these entitlements.

Next, let’s see what types of access certification exist.

What are the Different Types of Access Certification?

There are two different types of access certifications – periodic and continuous. 

Periodic Access Certification

Periodic access reviews ensure that access privileges are being followed regularly. This review serves as a type of quality control and aids in efficiently managing information systems. To ensure that the correct persons have the right amount of access, it is possible to verify who has access to what periodically.

There are two primary steps in the process:

  • Charting the rights of access inside a particular domain and
  • Connecting the duties of every employee to the resource access rights they possess.

The frequency at which this assessment should be conducted again should be based on how sensitive the access privileges under review are. 

Continuous Access Certification

The continuous access rights review concentrates on compliance and has a different goal than the periodic review. The ongoing rights assessment aims to reduce the risk associated with access rights. To identify security breaches, it continuously monitors changes within the company, such as new hires, job responsibility changes, newly given permissions, security incidents, or odd access.

It is continuous, includes no time limit, and concentrates on all extraordinary situations. Examining access rights threats is given priority in this evaluation, which is incorporated into the organization’s regular activities.

These two review techniques are complementary but separate approaches to meeting security requirements, attaining regulatory compliance, and lowering the risk associated with access permissions. This is because they serve different purposes.

Top Five Best Practices for User Access Reviews

Regular user access reviews can help you reduce the risk of security breaches and ensure a secure and effective access management procedure. If your company lacks a system, these best practices for user access reviews can assist you in setting up a productive approach:

  1. Develop an Access Management Policy (or Update the One You Have Regularly)

Creating a user access review policy is essential for compliance and cybersecurity in any organization. A comprehensive strategy can reduce security threats and safeguard confidential data while saving a company money and effort. It is preferable to think of policy development as the process phase where a lot of research and question-asking is done to acquire knowledge. 

The information that needs to be protected above all else, who and what is most in danger, who has access to what, and what software is available to reduce those risks are the questions that need to be answered.

Creating a user access review policy must always be aimed towards achieving a Zero Trust policy, which grants users access to only the essential information required for job duties. Every access decision is made using this data-centric paradigm, which incorporates the principle of least privileged access.

You must include the following components in your user access management policy:

  • A List of the information and materials that must be safeguarded;
  • An exhaustive inventory of all user roles, access levels, and access kinds;
  • Techniques, instruments, and control mechanisms for securing access;
  • Software and administrative processes used to implement the policy; and,
  • Protocols for allocating, examining, and withdrawing access privileges

Furthermore, role-based access control and least privilege, or Zero Trust, access should be implemented in any formalized user access review process. Finding and modifying pertinent access management policy templates unique to your area and sector may simplify policy creation.

  1. Involve All Stakeholders in the Process

The IT department typically distributes User access permissions to the system in most organizations. It is acknowledged that they may not always be the best people to decide on a user’s access privileges. Supervisors, leaders, and managers are better aware of the precise access permissions that workers need. 

It is crucial to remember that network and system administrators should be able to handle these choices independently. It would help if you ensured the right managers are in charge of examining user access rights and allocating them according to each worker’s position within the company. For instance, a CFO can tell you if an accountant requires access to the entire suite of applications, and a marketing manager will be able to determine exactly who needs access to Photoshop. As they are fine readers, network and system administrators should not be in charge of granting and approving user access. 

  1. Execute Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) 

Instead of handling individual accounts, the Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) model groups users into roles to expedite the user access review process. Since each position in RBAC has a unique set of access privileges, reviewing and managing user access is made simpler. 

You can quickly and effectively manage the access capabilities of different users with just a few clicks by combining users with comparable privileges into roles. This eliminates the need to configure each user account manually. This method helps maintain uniformity in access management throughout your company while streamlining the user access review process.

  1. Implement the Principle of Least Privilege

Users should only be able to access the data they require at the appropriate time, according to the concept of least privilege. This guarantees the highest level of security and cuts down on the time needed for user access assessment. New users are given minimal access permissions or privileges under the least privilege policy. 

Administrators can, for example, put a user in a certain group, give them a privileged user role, or give them temporary or permanent access to resources. This method guarantees users minimal privileges to carry out their responsibilities.

Role-based access control (RBAC) and the principle of least privilege access work hand-in-hand. For example, access permissions to programs like Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, and Salesforce are necessary for an employee in the accounting department to perform their duties. However, they do not require access to Photoshop or other programs in the Adobe suite. The appropriate user access permissions can ensure that the accountant is not involved in any Adobe Suite workflows and the organization is safeguarded from any unforeseen privilege abuse.

  1. Train Staff About User Access Reviews

Employee participation in the user access review procedure can expedite it and aid in educating staff members about the significance of cybersecurity precautions. Increase the efficiency of the review process by providing access permissions lists to managers and users and soliciting their feedback. 

Managers who comprehend the duties of their subordinates better can offer significant perspectives that can optimize the evaluation procedure. By involving staff members in the process, you can help them comprehend the need for these precautions and contribute to making the workplace a safer place for everyone.  

Security and Compliance with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and services help our customers become compliance-ready and certified for security and compliance frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, CCPA, CMMC, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes, delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

Build customer trust. Choose Akitra TODAY!‍

To book your FREE DEMO, contact us right here.


Related Posts

Request a Demo & See if We’re the Right Fit for Each Other

cta 2

Request a Demo & See if We’re the Right Fit for Each Other

cta 2

Request a Demo & See if We’re the Right Fit for Each Other

cta 2

We care about your privacy​
We use cookies to operate this website, improve usability, personalize your experience, and improve our marketing. Your privacy is important to us and we will never sell your data. Privacy Policy.

%d bloggers like this: