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Strategies for Efficient and Effective Access Certification Campaigns

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Access certification campaigns are a crucial part of an organization's identity and access management (IAM) strategy and effective governance. They help ensure that only the right individuals have access to sensitive data and resources. Access certification is vital to ensure that only authorized individuals have appropriate access to sensitive data, applications, and resources and as a way to know “who has access to what”. Effective access certification enhances governance, identify security risks, reduces the risk of data breaches, ensures compliance with regulations, and maintains operational efficiency by preventing and removal of unwanted and/or unauthorized access. However, without effective strategies in place, access certification campaigns can become rubber stamping, appear time-consuming, often including incomplete information, error-prone, and action less. In this blog, CredenceIA Consulting team will explore key strategies for optimizing access certification campaigns.


Understanding Access Certification:

Access certification, also known as access attestation, is the process of reviewing and validating the users’ access to applications and resources within an organization. The level of access being reviewed and certified includes entitlement access, user’s permissions, role membership, and privileges they hold in various applications, servers, systems, and databases. Effective access certification’s goal is to ensure that users have the appropriate level of access and that any unnecessary or inappropriate permissions are promptly revoked to be remediated.


Importance of Access Certification:

Access certification safeguards data, mitigates security risks, and ensures compliance, maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of an organization's resources.

1. Security: Access certification is vital for maintaining access, data security and bringing accountability. By bringing users’ access under visibility, regularly reviewing and certifying user access, organizations can reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.

2. Compliance: Many regulatory frameworks and industry standards, such as SOX, GDPR and HIPAA, require organizations to regularly review and certify user access to sensitive applications and data those applications allow access to. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, reputational and financial damage.

3. Streamlining: By cataloging and bringing critical applications, systems and both privilege and non-privilege access under a central system, organizations can better analyze, review and remediate a user’s access while reducing risk.

4. Efficiency: Properly managed access certification campaigns streamline user access, making it easier for employees to do their jobs while minimizing security risks.


Strategies for Efficient and Effective Access Certification Campaigns

The following approaches and strategies are to help balance efficiency and effectiveness that help organizations with Optimizing Access Certification Campaigns.


1. Automate the Process:

Manual spreadsheet based certification campaigns are error prone, slow and time consuming. Often times, the access being reviewed is not the current access due to time it takes to get the data, prepare and send out the review. Embrace automation to streamline access certification campaigns. Automated tools can identify and flag inappropriate access rights, reducing the manual effort required for review. Automation ensures that certifications are performed consistently and according to a predefined schedule and most importantly the remediation (i.e. removal of revoked access) can be integrated within the user lifecycle process.

2. Define Clear Policies and Procedures:

Establish clear access policies and procedures. Define who is responsible for access certification, what criteria should trigger a certification campaign, and how often certifications should be conducted. Having well-documented processes in place ensures that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

3. Segment Users and Resources (Risk Based Certification):

Not all users or their accesses are equal. Segment your user base and access based on their risk, sensitivity and importance to the organization. For example, birthright access doesn’t require deep scrutiny vs. access to high priority and important applications. Similarly, a role that a user have access to can be eliminated from regular review further streamlining what is being reviewed. Prioritize access certification for high-risk users and critical applications to maximize the impact of your efforts. Consider utilizing risk based behavior driven certification (e.g. high risk users, unusual access patterns) to further minimize risk.

4. Leverage Role-Based Access Control (RBAC):

Implement RBAC principles to define roles and simplify access certification. Assign users to roles with predefined access rights, and then certify those roles rather than individual users. This reduces the complexity of the certification process and makes it easier to manage and reduces certification fatigue.

5. Regularly Review and Update Roles:

Roles can become outdated as organizations evolve. Regularly review and update role definitions to ensure they accurately reflect the needs of the organization. This prevents users from accumulating unnecessary access rights over time.

6. Implement Recertification:

In addition to regular access certification campaigns, introduce recertification for certain high-risk roles or users. Recertification ensures that critical access rights are continuously monitored and re-validated.

7. Provide User-Friendly Interfaces:

Make the access certification process as user-friendly as possible. Provide intuitive interfaces for reviewers to easily understand and validate access rights. This reduces the chances of errors and delays in the certification process.

8. Enable User Driven Certification (User Self-Certification):

Allowing users to do first level of access self-certification allow less burden on the manager and reduces guesswork. Let users be the judge on what access is appropriate for them and which is no longer appropriate.

9. Implement Continuous Monitoring:

Don't limit access certification to periodic campaigns only. Implement continuous monitoring tools that can identify and alert you to access anomalies and potential security breaches in real-time.

10. Analysis, Training and Awareness:

Periodic analysis of users’ access and revocation data provide trends. Ensure that all employees involved in access certification campaigns receive proper training and are aware of the importance of their role in maintaining security and compliance.

11. Streamline Technology Integration :

Integrating access certification with Identity Governance solution allow review and remediation to be part of same end-to-end process and technology implementation. This further reduces manual after the fact remediation step by automatically removing revoked access vs. leaving it on someone to manually remediate. Integration with Identity Governance solution also allow bringing all key important applications under management from request, approval, review and remediation.


How CredenceIA Consulting Can Help?

Efficient planning and execution of access certification campaigns are important for a secure, compliant organization. Automation, clear policies, technology integration, enablement and ongoing access monitoring streamline the process, reducing security risks and ensuring regulatory compliance. A well defied access certification processes also reduces end-user fatigue, rubber stamping of access certification and help organizations weed out unwanted, stale access. Access Certification is a continuous commitment to safeguarding data and granting access only to authorized users.


CredenceIA Consulting offers Identity Governance (IGA) and Application Access Governance (AAG) solutions to help organizations balance efficiency and effectiveness in optimizing Access Certification Campaigns. Through automation and centralization and effective use of technology, they streamline user access reviews, enhancing accuracy. Employing risk-based methods, technology, and efficient review processes ensures regulatory compliance and bolsters cybersecurity, earning stakeholder trust.




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