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Access Review: How to fasten the process using SSPM

Access review is a crucial process for continuously monitoring and validating the access levels and roles granted to users within SaaS applications. It allows security teams to regularly evaluate access permissions, ensuring that employees have access only to the information necessary for their roles, and can only perform actions relevant to their roles, in the respective applications. 

Periodic access reviews play a vital role in identifying and later, remediating risks. It encompasses the identification of users holding excessive privileges and instances of unauthorized access. Through consistent access review, organizations can proactively uncover potential security vulnerabilities and gaps, effectively avoiding security breaches and sensitive data leaks.

Failing to conduct proper user access reviews can have significant implications for a business, especially considering its necessity for many compliance audits. Neglecting this crucial process can lead to the unintentional exposure of sensitive data, potentially causing harm to negligent employees, even if not maliciously intended. Employees accessing information beyond their designated roles can create insider threats, leading to legal liabilities, customer mistrust, and negative publicity. These consequences can disrupt the organization’s growth and success, emphasizing the importance of addressing negligent users and their impact on insider risk management.

Error message text indicating the manual errors of outdated access review practices

The Challenges of Manual User Access Review

A significant challenge posed by manual access reviews is the complexity and time-consuming nature surrounding the compliance audit process. Without a streamlined system in place, organizations often find themselves grappling with the arduous task of manually collecting evidence to demonstrate that they have conducted these reviews.

This process typically involves capturing screenshots, generating manual reports, and consolidating them to present to auditors. The sheer volume of applications and users in larger organizations intensifies this challenge. However, partnerships like the Wing and Drata partnership offer a remedy to this issue by streamlining the evidence-collection process. Furthermore, for Drata customers, this information can be effortlessly uploaded back into their system.

The Time-Consuming Nature

While access reviews are crucial for compliance, they often prove labor-intensive and time-consuming. Security teams bear the burden of dedicating countless hours, often spanning weeks, to review access permissions for each user across numerous applications manually. In organizations with thousands of users and hundreds of applications, this process demands a significant amount of time and effort, diverting valuable resources from other critical security tasks.

Struggles in Keeping Up

In today’s ever-evolving and fast-paced business landscape, security teams already face a continuous stream of new challenges. Challenges include identifying and mitigating emerging threats and monitoring for suspicious user behaviors. The additional burden of manual access reviews only compounds these existing pressures, placing a substantial strain on the efficiency and effectiveness of the security team.

Risks of Human Error

Manual access review processes are highly susceptible to human error. The complexity of managing access and roles across a wide range of SaaS applications increases the likelihood of errors in the approval process. To show the scale of this challenge, it is estimated that the average employee has 28 applications in use. Ultimately, errors of this nature can result in security breaches and even compliance violations.

Using Automation to Manage User Access

5 stars representing the security score on a third party vendor risk management

Recognizing the challenges posed by manual access reviews and the need to reduce the time-consuming and error-prone processes, Wing’s Essential SSPM solution extends its automation capabilities to this critical process. By consolidating and automating access reviews, organizations can significantly reduce the time and effort required to assess user permissions and prove compliance. Additionally, Wing’s SSPM solution also ensures that security is prioritized throughout, providing advanced vendor risk assessment capabilities.

The Benefits of Automating User Access Review

Checklist symbolizing the user access review process

Efficiency Gains: Automation streamlines the access review processes. Through automation, security teams can complete reviews in a fraction of the time required for manual methods. This not only enhances efficiency but also facilitates the creation of consolidated reports that are easy to track and share with auditors. A win-win for both the company and the auditors.

Consistency: Automated access reviews ensure the consistent application of access policies across the organization, minimizing the risk of human errors. No matter who is conducting the reviews, a standard approach is taken that ensures better accuracy in the process.

Always-on Security: With an SSPM solution that automates access review, not only can you reduce the time spent on manual tasks, but you can also gain peace of mind knowing that your SaaS stack is secure. It allows security teams to focus on high-priority security tasks such as proactive threat detection and mitigation. 

The Importance of User Access Review for Compliance

Access reviews play a pivotal role in maintaining a secure and compliant SaaS environment. They ensure that access privileges are aligned with the principle of least privilege. This is helpful in reducing the risk of unauthorized data exposure and potential breaches.

Access reviews are closely tied to the compliance requirements mandated by industry standards and regulations such as SOC 2 and ISO 20071. Both emphasize the importance of controlling and monitoring access to sensitive information. By using automation to conduct access reviews, security teams can quickly and easily provide evidence of adherence to these standards. This helps in safeguarding an organization from potential fines and reputational damage.

SOC 2  is a widely recognized auditing standard developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). It outlines the criteria for evaluating the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of cloud service providers. Part of meeting SOC 2 compliance involves effectively managing access to sensitive systems and data.

On the other hand, ISO 27001, is a globally recognized information security management system (ISMS) standard. It provides a systematic approach to managing and protecting sensitive information within an organization. One of its core components is the requirement to implement a robust access control policy, ensuring that only authorized users can access critical assets.

Access reviews are an indispensable aspect of maintaining compliance and safeguarding sensitive data. However, the traditional manual approach comes with its own set of challenges, hindering security teams from performing optimally. By embracing the automation capabilities of Wing’s SSPM solution, organizations can expedite access reviews and alleviate the strain on their security teams. Automation not only eases and speeds up compliance but also empowers security professionals to enhance their overall security posture and better protect against insider risks.

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