User Access Reviews

The Most Common UAR Obstacles– and How to Solve Them

Let’s be honest: Keeping up with the increasing demands of regulatory requirements is challenging, but there’s no getting around them. And, it’s not slated to get any easier. The number of cybersecurity compliance requirements has been consistently growing the last few years as a result of the influx of new technologies, and it’s anticipated that this will continue. 

​​While organizations do their best to keep up, oftentimes either their over-reliance on cumbersome manual methods, like Excel-based access reviews, or partial implementation of IGA solutions can be a hindrance to their progress. What basically unfolds is a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of dance. 

Forward: They get organized and start catching up

Back: It’s time for another review, which takes a serious amount of time and effort, distracting them from their other initiatives and putting them further behind. 

This cycle continues year after year after year.

Which begs the question: Why would a company purposefully choose to stick with inefficient processes?

A worthwhile thing to ponder. But, before we can get into that, let’s explore what user access reviews are and why they matter.

What is a User Access Review and Why is it Important?

A user access review (UAR) is a process in which an organization periodically examines and verifies user access rights to ensure that employees have the appropriate level of access to perform their jobs effectively. This process checks for potential issues like separation of duties (SoD) conflicts, policy adherence, and other access-related discrepancies that could pose security risks.

This process is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Security: By preventing unauthorized access, user access reviews help mitigate the risk of potential data breaches and protect sensitive information.
  2. Compliance: Ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements and standards, user access reviews help organizations avoid penalties and legal issues.
  3. Efficiency: Optimizes resource allocation by ensuring employees have the necessary access without excess, thereby improving productivity and reducing operational costs.
  4. Risk Management: Identifies and mitigates risks associated with excessive or inappropriate access, helping to safeguard the organization from internal and external threats.

What Makes Manual or Semi-Implemented Solution Access Reviews So Hard?

Data Collection and Consolidation

Gathering data from different systems, consolidating it into spreadsheets, and attempting to verify everything can take weeks (or even months.) That’s a significant amount of time and energy that could be better allocated to other high-priority initiatives. 

Human Error

When entering and analyzing data by hand, mistakes are almost inevitable. A joint Stanford University study found that a massive 88% of data breach incidents are caused by employee error. Similarly research by IBM Security puts the number closer to 95%.  Misinterpreting data, entering it incorrectly, or simply overlooking details can lead to incorrect access permissions and potential security breaches. 

Lack of Visibility

Manual reviews or half-baked solution implementations often fail to provide a complete picture of user access across the organization. This fragmented approach stems from disjointed systems and the lack of a centralized method for tracking entitlements and how identities gain their access. Without an easy way to review this information, it becomes challenging to get a holistic view of access rights and potential security risks.

Communication and Coordination

Manual, non-centralized processes typically involve numerous rounds of back and forth correspondence between reviewers and managers, leading to delays and miscommunication. 

Best Practices for Manual User Access Reviews

  1. Regular Scheduling: Set a consistent schedule for access reviews to ensure they are conducted regularly and nothing falls through the cracks.
  2. Clear Documentation: Maintain detailed documentation of all user access permissions, review processes, and any changes made during the reviews.
  3. Collaborative Effort: Involve multiple stakeholders in the review process to ensure accuracy and completeness. This includes IT, HR, and department heads.
  4. Spot Checks: Conduct periodic spot checks between full reviews to catch any discrepancies or unauthorized access early.
  5. Training: Provide training for all involved in the review process to minimize errors and ensure everyone understands their role and the importance of the review.

While these best practices can help improve manual access reviews, there are limitations to what manual methods can achieve.

When to Consider Automation

Automated features ensure that access reviews are conducted regularly and in line with regulatory requirements. Here’s a breakdown of how these features can help:

  • Regular and Timely Reviews: Automation schedules reviews at regular intervals, ensuring that no review is missed and that all are conducted on time.
  • Automated Audit Trails: Every action taken during the review process is recorded automatically, creating an audit trail that is easy to follow and verify.
  • Compliance Reporting: Automated systems generate comprehensive reports that demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, making audits smoother and reducing the risk of penalties.

How Clarity Security Can Help

Non-centralized user access reviews come with numerous challenges, including data collection and consolidation, human error, and lack of visibility. By automating these reviews, you can overcome these obstacles, boost your security, and ensure compliance.

This is where Clarity Security comes in. We offer a comprehensive solution to transform your access review process. With features designed to streamline data gathering, enhance accuracy, and provide a complete view of user access, Clarity helps you maintain a secure and compliant IT environment. Our platform provides a powerful integration framework to load all in-scope application data, a simple UX for access certifications, automation to reduce the burden on IT teams, and compliance reporting to satisfy auditors.

Ready for a smoother, stress-free access review process? Let’s connect! Book a demo with Clarity today.

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