Have you reviewed who has access to your systems recently

Have you reviewed who has access to your systems recently

All organizations experience change. Employees are onboarded and offboarded, technologies evolve, and external partnerships come and go. These changes affect an organization’s day-to-day activities and have repercussions on its IT system.

For instance, if your Washington-based business is expanding, you can expect not only an influx of new hires but also employees getting internal promotions. These various roles require access to different apps, systems, and data. And If you're not careful with managing their complex user permissions that are unique for each user, you might give an employee access to information that's unnecessary for their role.

Should your data fall into the wrong hands — even if it’s someone within your organization — your business may be compromised. It’s therefore wise to limit data access to only those who need the information for their daily tasks. Otherwise, an employee, whether by mistake or with malice, may be able to leak company data or allow outsiders to access that.

Data breaches are a serious matter. In 2022, the average cost of a data breach in the United States amounted to $9.44 million. That’s why certain industries, such as finance, medical, or commerce, have strict standards when it comes to data handling. But even companies outside of the abovementioned industries should employ data security best practices.

And this is where the importance of a periodic user access review comes in.

What is a user access review?

User access review is the process wherein an organization reviews the access rights of all of its employees, partner vendors, and contractors to ensure everyone has the appropriate access. This process also weeds out outdated, redundant, or needless access. Ideally, this review should be done periodically, especially since changes to personnel, technologies, company structure, processes, and partnerships can happen at any time.

What risks can a user access review prevent?

A company that doesn’t regularly review their employees’ user access is vulnerable to potential data breaches. However, by doing periodic user access reviews, your business can prevent the following risks:

  • Former employees continuing to access company network and data;
  • Transferred employees retaining their privileges from their previous position and accessing information unrelated to their new roles;
  • Outsiders (such as vendors and freelancers) accessing company network and data through non-expiring passwords; and
  • Malicious actors using dormant but still active administrative accounts to access internal systems.

Who should perform a user access review?

If you think that your IT department is the logical choice to conduct a user access review, think again. Your IT guys don’t have a full grasp of the duties and responsibilities of every employee in your organization, so they may not know what kind of access rights your staff needs.

Instead, your IT department should work alongside the department heads, managers, leaders, and supervisors in reviewing employees’ access rights. This is because they are the ones who understand the scope of tasks of the people they manage. Therefore, they are in the best position to assess which information should be accessed by whom.

What are some user access review best practices?

To help ensure you get the most out of your user access reviews, here are some of the best practices that you can adopt:

  • Make the reviews regular. Schedule the audits so that you don’t miss a review. Better yet, you can time it in conjunction with your quarterly or monthly reviews.
  • Create a formal system of review. Document every user’s role, what they have access to, and if their account is active or inactive. Keep in mind that users not only mean your employees, but also vendors, partners, contractors, and every outsider who has access to your systems and data.
  • Train your employees on security best practices. Make sure they know and comply with your company security policies.
  • Assign an owner to every system or application in your network. The owner should be familiar with the application and who uses it, as they will be responsible for managing and monitoring that particular application.
  • Use automated tools for your access management and user access review. While you can conduct your reviews manually, doing so is more difficult, tedious, and prone to human error.

What’s the easiest way to conduct user access review?

Overwhelmed by the whole user access review process? Don’t be. Because we at Fidelis, Inc. are ready to provide you with skilled guidance and assistance. From recommending automated tools to training your people in best practices, our IT specialists are ready to help businesses in Washington and Oregon. Contact us today.

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