Effective Access Management for Data Security

Data Protection

According to a 2021 report by MarketsandMarkets, the 8 billion dollar global access management market is expected to double by 2025. The exponential rise in cyberattacks and the increasing trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Internet of Things (IoT) are driving the growth of the access management market.

What is access management?

Access management in cybersecurity refers to the set of processes and technologies used to control and monitor access to digital resources, such as computer systems, networks, applications, and data.

The goal of access management is to ensure that only authorized users are able to access sensitive information and systems, while preventing unauthorized access and potential security breaches.

Access management includes a range of techniques, such as user authentication (e.g. password or biometric verification), authorization (i.e. granting users specific privileges and permissions), and monitoring and logging of access activities.

Access management is a critical component of cybersecurity, as it helps organizations protect their digital assets from cyberattacks and data breaches by limiting access to only those who need it and ensuring that all access is properly tracked and monitored.

Who uses it?

Access management is used by organizations of all sizes and types, including businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

Within these organizations, access management is typically managed by IT departments, cybersecurity teams, or other designated personnel responsible for ensuring the security of digital resources.

Access management is used to control access to a wide range of digital resources, such as computer networks, servers, databases, applications, and cloud-based services. It is also used to control access to physical resources, such as buildings, rooms, and data centers.

Individual users within organizations, such as employees, contractors, and partners, also use access management to control their own access to digital resources. This may involve creating and managing their own passwords, setting up two-factor authentication, and requesting access to specific systems or applications.

Common access management challenges

Cybersecurity professionals face several common challenges in access management, including:

  • Balancing security with usability: Security measures such as multi-factor authentication and frequent password changes can be effective, but they can also be perceived as cumbersome and inconvenient by users. Cybersecurity professionals need to find a balance between security and usability to ensure that users are able to access the resources they need while also maintaining a high level of security.
  • Managing access for third-party vendors: Organizations often rely on third-party vendors for various services, such as cloud storage or software development. Managing access for these vendors can be challenging, as they require access to specific resources but should not be given access to more than what is necessary.
  • Managing access across multiple systems: Large organizations often have multiple systems and applications that require different access control mechanisms. Managing access across all of these systems can be a complex and time-consuming task.
  • Detecting and responding to access-related threats: Cybersecurity professionals need to monitor access activities to detect and respond to suspicious or unauthorized access attempts. This requires advanced threat detection and response capabilities, as well as access to relevant logs and data.
  • Maintaining compliance with regulations and standards: Many organizations are subject to various regulations and standards that dictate how access should be managed. Cybersecurity professionals need to ensure that their access management practices are compliant with these requirements, which can be challenging given the constantly evolving regulatory landscape.

Access management is a critical component of cybersecurity, and cybersecurity professionals need to be aware of these common challenges and take steps to address them effectively.

Access management best practices

Here are some common and preferred best practices of access management in cybersecurity:

  • Least privilege: Users should only be granted the minimum level of access required to perform their job duties. This helps to limit the potential damage that could be caused by a compromised user account.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): This involves using multiple forms of authentication, such as a password and a biometric factor or a security token, to verify a user’s identity. MFA is a recommended best practice to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data.
  • Regular password updates: Passwords should be updated on a regular basis to reduce the risk of password-related attacks, such as brute-force attacks or password guessing. Users should also be required to create strong passwords that are difficult to guess or crack.
  • Role-based access control: Access should be granted based on a user’s role within the organization. This ensures that users only have access to the systems and data that are necessary for them to perform their job duties.
  • Access reviews: Access rights should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that users still require the access they have been granted. Access should be revoked when it is no longer required.
  • Logging and monitoring: Access activities should be logged and monitored to detect and respond to suspicious or unauthorized access attempts.
  • Separation of duties: Sensitive tasks should be divided among multiple users to prevent any single user from having too much control or access.
  • Secure coding practices: Applications and systems should be developed using secure coding practices to prevent vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain unauthorized access.

Access management is an ongoing process that requires regular review and adaptation to changing security risks and user needs. By implementing these best practices, organizations can reduce the risk of unauthorized access and protect their digital assets from cyberattacks.

Types of access management

There are several types of access management in cybersecurity, including:

  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC): DAC is a type of access management where the owner of a resource determines who is granted access to that resource. The owner can grant or revoke access rights to the resource, and users have the ability to share the resource with others.
  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC): MAC is a type of access management where access is granted based on a set of predefined rules, policies, and labels. The system administrator or security officer defines the rules and labels, and users do not have the ability to modify them.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): RBAC is a type of access management where access is granted based on a user’s role within the organization. Users are assigned roles that determine their access to resources, and these roles are typically based on job function or responsibility.
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC): ABAC is a type of access management where access is granted based on a set of attributes associated with the user or the resource being accessed. These attributes can include user attributes (such as job title, department, and security clearance level) and resource attributes (such as sensitivity level and location).
  • Rule-Based Access Control (RBAC): RBAC is a type of access management where access is granted based on a set of predefined rules that govern access to resources. These rules are based on criteria such as time of day, location, and user identity.
  • Risk-Based Access Control (RBAC): RBAC is a type of access management where access is granted based on the risk associated with the request. The risk level is determined by analyzing various factors such as the user’s location, device, and behavior.

Each type of access management has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the appropriate type depends on the specific needs and requirements of the organization. Many organizations use a combination of these access management types to achieve a comprehensive and effective access management strategy.

A 5-step approach to access management for CISOs

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) play a critical role in ensuring effective access management in business. Here are some ways they can approach access management:

  1. Understand the business requirements: CISOs should work closely with business leaders to understand the specific requirements for access management. This includes identifying the critical assets and data that need to be protected, as well as the users who require access to those resources.
  2. Develop an access management strategy: Based on the business requirements, CISOs should develop an access management strategy that outlines the policies, procedures, and tools that will be used to manage access. This strategy should be aligned with the overall cybersecurity and data management goals of the organization.
  3. Implement access controls: CISOs should implement access controls that are appropriate for the level of risk associated with the resources being protected. This includes implementing multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and other mechanisms to ensure that users only have access to the resources they need.
  4. Monitor access activities: CISOs should monitor access activities to detect and respond to suspicious or unauthorized access attempts. This requires advanced threat detection and response capabilities, as well as access to relevant logs and data.
  5. Provide training and education: CISOs should provide training and education to users about the importance of access management and how to use the access management tools and procedures effectively. This includes educating users about the risks associated with weak passwords and other common access management issues.
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Close access management gaps with BigID

The future of access management looks promising, with strong growth projected for the market and increasing adoption of access management solutions by organizations. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated and the number of connected devices continues to rise, effective access management will be increasingly important for ensuring the security and privacy of digital assets.

BigID is the leading data intelligence platform for privacy, security, and governance— offering comprehensive master data management throughout the entire lifecycle. Using advanced AI automation and next-gen ML, BigID provides deep data discovery to uncover all of your most sensitive data, regardless of how or where it is stored.

Quickly find over-privileged or over-exposed data across your environment, manage access, and mitigate unauthorized use to reduce the risk of data leaks or breaches. Achieve zero trust and automatically carry out remediation to revoke file access violations from users or groups with BigID’s Action Center or delegate to the right person on your team.

To see how BigID can supplement your access management initiatives and strengthen your data security posture, get a 1:1 demo today.