Access Governance: What it is and Why you Need it

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Access governance, as the phrase suggests, refers to the governance or control of who has permission to access what in an organization. Any organization grants access to different employees, based on their designation/role/need; and this process demands comprehensive governance.

Why is this important? Because we live in an era of data driven organizations, and when so much data—structured/unstructured—is on hand from myriad sources (online, offline, cloud, offshore, etc.), it becomes increasingly important to have formalized checks and balances in place. Security is an overwhelming concern—both from the point of view of keeping information secure, and also ensuring that only those who need to have access to sensitive or classified data do so. Additionally, with the intricate regulations across industries, compliance becomes an essential consideration as well. Being able to track, audit and control what individual employees have accessed reduces misuse, and also provides essential data and a trail when audits and compliance requirements are in play.

Access governance systems have come into being to meet these growing demands. It encompasses varied types of access within the organization, such as access to apps, databases, files, passwords, networked devices, and more. The larger the organization, the more the access events, the number of employees, and accessed assets that must be tracked and reviewed. Access governance also includes following the chain of command for the approval of a particular request—for example, from the person making the request to the approver, and back—or ensuring that a particular task has been assigned, started, completed, and closed. For instance, a change in role or responsibility oftentimes means that access changes (both additions and deletions) will be required. Some of the issues that can be addressed by access governance include privilege creep (employees retain their access rights even after their roles are changed and do not require this access), stale accounts (access rights remain even after the employee leaves the organization) and orphan accounts (accounts that do not belong to anyone).

So, should you be looking to deploy an access governance system in your organization? Keeping compliance and security/privacy considerations in mind, it does indeed make sense for businesses to deploy an access governance system. The benefits are many. For one, it provides a comprehensive view of roles and privileges within each department of the organization, so that there is clarity within and about each function. This also means that there is deep insight into how access is being used across the organization, by different users—a level of granularity that offers a 360-degree view. For another, you can regulate access and control in a systematic and continuous manner, rather than sporadically. More importantly, an access governance system allows you to do all this in an efficient manner, while ensuring the highest level of security. An access governance system also positively impacts the certification process. Certification and recertification requirements are reduced; ad-hoc certifications for any user can be done, as required, at any point in time. Furthermore, collaborative and analytics-based decision-making is possible, using data aggregated across users and departments.

In a world of ever-growing complexities, from myriad sources of data to the large scale of users to the need to remain compliant, having an access governance system is no longer just a nice-to-have, but a must-have.

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