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User Access Reviews

What is a User Access Review?

User access reviews are periodic reviews of who has access privileges to the digital assets in your organization. Also known simply as “access reviews”, they should happen periodically, removing unnecessary, outdated, or inappropriate privileges.

Here’s everything you need to know about performing regular user access reviews.

Why do we do user access reviews?

Your organization should be performing regular access reviews for a variety of reasons:

  • To protect your organization’s digital assets from potential breaches and fraud by reducing your threat surface.
  • To protect your vital information—your “crown jewels”.
  • To ensure that any Joiners, Movers, Leavers (JML) have the right-sized access.
  • To keep your organization compliant

Regularly reviewing your users’ access privileges is an important part of access management, specifically attempting to discover and remediate:

  • Privilege creep—gradually growing privileges, for example, for a long-term employee, a Mover, or otherwise.
  • User role or configuration mistakes.
  • Abuses and misuses in access.
  • Outdated security policies.

Even though access reviews may seem daunting—after all, they take a lot of time, effort and responsibility to carry out—and can be tempting to ignore from time to time (especially if you’ve already successfully implemented a Zero Trust model and the Principle of Least Privilege), they’re an essential arm of your organization’s security.

What do user access reviews help us to do better?

When done correctly, access reviews help us to reach a secure baseline of access privileges.

Not only do regular user access reviews help your organization to guardrail your user access policies, not to mention your organization’s security, but they have other benefits as well:

  • They ensure you have an access management policy, which can be easily managed and updated based on the outcomes of the access reviews.
  • They ensure there is a formalized review procedure in place, rather than performing these ad-hoc, or worse: when there has been a genuine threat.
  • Installing access rights per role.
  • Allow you to easily and effortlessly implement the Principle of Least Privilege (more on that below.)

What Is Least Privilege?

It’s the principle that every identity should be given the fewest amount of privileges needed to perform their tasks. For example, an intern circulating around an organization will likely gather a few different user privileges which, should they settle in one team in the company, won’t be needed or used.

Yet, these privileges are likely to go unnoticed and still, even further, unlikely to be revoked. And, as you might imagine, that causes many potential security concerns. This is why regular user access reviews are a must for any organization. Once the Principle of Least Privilege has been thoroughly implemented and adhered to, performing regular access reviews becomes effortless.

Access reviews for security

Keeping your organization secure means you need to continuously monitor and enforce your security policies. Performing periodic access reviews as a way to ensure your organization’s security is the way to do this. Using a set of automated user access review tools will help to ensure this is completed effortlessly, quickly, and perfectly, with actionable recommendations.

Comprehensive, granular visibility and accuracy puts an end to rubber stamping, once and for all. And Access Reviews are that crucial first step towards achieving Least Privilege, giving you your baseline to work off of.

Access reviews for compliance

Access reviews are a key component of your regulatory requirements. They provide the opportunity to prove to auditors that your organization has achieved a baseline of secure and right-sized privileges in line with regulatory standards.

Access review challenges

User access reviews can be challenging, for a number of reasons:

  • They can be overwhelming, leading to inefficiency, human errors and an inability to complete the task by the given deadline, which can have a huge impact on your regulatory compliance.
  • They take a lot of time and energy, which can lead to “rubber stamping” and further human error.
  • Once the access review has been completed, it can be challenging, time-consuming, and complex to implement the necessary changes.

Using user access review software will help you to effortlessly and easily complete any and all access reviews, whether that may be a periodic access review or a continuous user access review.