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access governance

By Tim Jester

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“Where should I put this big box of sensitive and business-critical documents? I’ll just leave them in the middle of the office for everyone to look at while I pop out. Should be fine.”

Words you’d never hear in an office block. Any sensible manager knows that it’s not just about the risk of office theft, but the risk of unauthorized staff getting access to things that don’t concern them.

So why are some companies so complacent when it comes to access governance? Leaving everything out in the open in the digital world can be just as harmful as leaving open files around the office and in the stairwell for people to check out.

Managing people’s access to the files and software on your systems is crucial. Here’s why you need to tighten up your access and security management.

What Is Access Governance Anyway?

In a nutshell, access governance is the art of restricting access to things people shouldn’t see. An example will help to show you how this works.

Let’s say you’re a PR agency with a number of account executives, who each look after a few different accounts.

You might not be bothered that each can see each other’s work because this helps them to support each other during the day. They can also pitch in to handle clients when the people responsible for that work are off sick or on holiday.

That’s fine. You give them all access to every folder relating to

However, now let’s say you land a new client. It’s a massive bank which has passed you sensitive data about a crisis. It wants your advice on how to handle the crisis, but this needs to be handled in a discreet way until it is ready to make things public.

You decide to assign a small team to that account. But you restrict everyone else’s access due to the sensitive nature of the material.

This allows you to choose the staff you trust the most to handle the data that could expose you (and your client) to the most risk.

It’s the same principle that says any printed documents with people’s salaries on them are kept under lock and key by your HR department. Sensitive data needs to be kept away from prying eyes.

Tiered Permissions

Besides having direct control over people’s access to specific data, you can also use access governance strategies to set up a system with tiered access rights.

For example, you might want members of staff to be able to access a digital version of your staff handbook. But you don’t want them to be able to change that file. So you restrict editing rights to a select few senior members of staff.

This can also be useful when protecting your database(s) since you can assign editing rights to people who input and manage data. Then assign read-only rights to people who want to pull up and share that data with customers.

For example, if you run a call center operation, you want one set of people who input data to have editing rights.

While your customer-facing call handlers should only have reading rights. You don’t want them accidentally changing any data. Or changing it without the permission of the team who manages the data. This helps you to manage the data that you hold, and keep it accurate.

It’s also not helpful when different people have different ideas about how data, files, and folders should be organized. They might go ahead and make the changes they’d like to see without talking to colleagues.

Then no one can find what they need when they need it. This wastes a lot of time, and there’s always the chance someone will pull back in another direction.

Handing out roles and duties in relation to this – and giving out the relevant permissions – is paramount if you want to ensure smooth and easy days at the office.

Protection From Threats and Attacks

Any account set up on your internal system poses a threat to your security. If a brute force attack finds someone’s password or a member of staff leaks login information, the account could now be used as a malicious tool.

Good access governance gives you the oversight to control rogue accounts.

When people leave the company, it’s a good idea to keep their account history on file for audit purposes. However, you’ll want to freeze up that account’s access rights in full so that hacking it would be a fruitless exercise.

There are also the unfortunate cases where you have to let people go. It’s fair to end their account permissions at this point too. They probably wouldn’t do anything, but not everyone takes news like that well.

Plus, if your IT team spot odd account activity in the logs, they can suspend all access while they investigate.

Limiting the number of accounts that can actually change or delete data makes sense. This reduces the risk that a compromised account will have the right permissions to cause damage.

In the same vein, it also makes sense to limit the number of accounts with access to business-critical files and sensitive information.

Of course, it’s also wise to keep a secure backup of your precious data at all times. That way, even if an attack does affect you, you have a recovery strategy ready to go.

The Best Way to Manage Access

The best way to keep your access rights under control is to use a fully-integrated solution that covers all the bases.

From access governance and predictive analytics, to risk management and cloud security, we can help to protect your business from a wide range of digital risks.

Even if you’ve tried and failed to implement access governance in the past, our 100% implementation success rate should give you confidence that we can find a solution for you.

Nothing is too complicated. Talk to Simeio today to learn how we can keep your business safe.

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