Access governance and the cloud: Security and organisational insight are the bottom line

How does access governance apply to the cloud? Well, while the cloud has been established as a standard for many organisations, access and governance to manage such solutions has not yet become a standard solution.

Access governance helps organisations of all sizes in every industry by ensuring that each employee has the correct access to the systems that they need to perform their jobs while keeping the company’s data and network secure. Access governance specifically allows organisational leaders to easily manage accounts and access, and is put in place to ensure that access is correct. This works by setting up a model of precisely the access rights for each role in the organisation, for every employee no matter where they may be based.

To provide a bit more detail on the meaning of this, access rights are created for specific roles in each relevant department. Access rights should be unique to the individual, not copied and pasted from another employee with a similar role or job function (this happens a lot in organisations where many employees perform much of the same work, like in manufacturing and healthcare, but should be avoided).

Checks and balances in access rights

Access governance means you can correct or populate access rights according to a model that you have established for your departments or teams. Again, individual access rights are important and an access matrix may prove to be a valuable tool to use when determining who needs access to which systems when for which role. Reconciliation is another way to ensure access rights. Reconciliation compares how access rights are set up to be in the model to how they actually are, and allows you to create a report on any differences found. Insomuch, any record or access point that is not accurate can then be easily corrected.

Attestation is still another form of checking access and helps verify all information. A report is forwarded to managers of a department for verification to ensure all users and their rights are accounted for and that everything in the log is correct. The manager verifies access and either marks rights for deletion, immediate change or maintains current access. After examining all of the rights, the manager must give final approval for the proposed set of changes to ensure that everything is correct.

During the course of an employee’s employment, it is an extremely common occurrence for the employee to receive too many rights, or to acquire access rights while working on projects. But these rights are often never revoked once they have been assigned. Access is frequently overlooked or not considered important enough to take away. What if one of your employees have access to a solution many of your other employees are assigned to use? The access governance concept allows you to provide and monitor access across the entire organization, from those using in-house solutions and those using cloud resources to access information.

Organisational access can be easily monitored through the use of access governance technology. Here’s why this is important: The typical access process goes a little something like this – a new employee is hired in the human resources department as a senior recruiter and needs accounts and resources created so he or she can begin work. The employee then automatically receives a Coupa cloud account, for example, PeopleSoft access and the ability to open the department’s shared drive and an email address. At this point, this employee should be ready for work.

Then, for those that employ access governance technology to monitor the goings on in their organisation, that process looks a little like this: Rules are created to review access rights of employees in each respective manager’s department. A review is conducted of who has what and why. Same goes for employees who are added to roles or newly hired to the organisation. Then, if access is no longer required following the completion of a project or a change in roles, the manager or other departmental leader can tag the access granted to be revoked and ensure that it is done automatically right away. This eliminates the need for a multi-level manual processes simply by the click of a button. All access for the employee to a specific system, or all systems, can be revoked. That’s the added value of a security measure. 

Why the cloud needs access governance

As more employees take to remote locations as their work environments, so do the number of users operating cloud applications. Access governance strategies can be employed to secure these applications for the employees not working in the physical corporate office or organisational facility.

Business leaders have many types of applications to manage and many roles for employees because of how teams are created within current organisations. Employees may be based abroad, working from home, traveling or just working offsite, all of which can effect access governance and technology use and access within across each of these situations.

Organisational leaders who invest in the cloud and building their companies through it may wish to add access governance technology to improve the security of their information while allowing their employees the opportunity to remain productive wherever they may be. Plus, and this is the bottom line of any security professional, you’ll be able to see who is doing what when and where with your information no matter where they happen to be.