7 best practices for securing your organization with access control

Access control is a vital step in cybersecurity because it secures the entry point of systems. Implementing the best access control practices to ward off cyber threats has never been so critical.

Your organization has an eclectic mix of people who need to access your systems with varying levels of privilege. The individuals this applies to can include:

  • Internal employees, contractors, and third-party vendors
  • Onsite support staff and remote workers
  • Newly onboarded and offboarded staff, as well as individuals with shifting job duties that need new levels of access (joiners, movers, leavers)

The challenge is managing security access for all these people in a way that encourages convenience, keeps your systems and data secure, and doesn't disrupt workflow.

You’ll need to ask yourself the following question: what does your organization need to do to gain control and visibility over who has access to what, why, and for how long – all while maintaining optimal security and productivity levels?

To do that, you'll want to turn to a suite of tools that streamline access while minimizing risks. Let’s look at the best practices you'll want to follow as adopt and implement access control across the enterprise.

1. Automate the user access lifecycle

As organizations expand their use of cloud-based services and adopt innovative technologies, they must find ways to protect themselves from cyber threats such as data breaches and insider attacks. One way to do this is by automating user access management processes so that employees can only access information when it's needed for legitimate business purposes – and can do so on day one.

The user access lifecycle involves granting, managing, and revoking user privileges within an organization. A secure user access lifecycle means that every employee in your company has been appropriately vetted and given only the rights they need to do their job.

When you automate these processes with privileged access management, identity governance tools, and enterprise access tools, you ensure that there are no gaps in security and that no employee can access any privilege they shouldn't have.

2. Use a single vendor for your access management suite

Partnering with a single, trusted vendor with a record of proven results for all your access management needs can streamline your security access suite.

The right partner will be able to provide you with a comprehensive suite of services that includes identity access management, privileged access management, data protection, authentication and authorization management, mobile device management (MDM), and more.

Tapping into these capabilities allows you to focus on your core business rather than managing the technical intricacies of multiple vendors systems and platforms. You define the identity policies needed and a lone vendor manages privileged access.

The advantages of this approach are clear:

  • It's easier to manage than using multiple vendors
  • It minimizes costs and complexities
  • It reduces the risk of security gaps

3. Empower your employees with consistent day-one access

According to Security Intelligence, it takes the average company 13 business days to give a new employee access. It takes an average of 6.3 hours to create these new accounts and provide application access.

If you work in security or IT, you already know that those numbers aren’t reasonable, especially when you consider the sheer number of oncoming staff members and those with changing access needs. You'll want a solution that allows you to empower your employees with day-one access. This also applies to terminating access. There’s a tendency to neglect existing access control systems, especially when you are busy with other activities. But change is constant. The people accessing your system today may not always be in your corner. You need to terminate users' access to your system when they are no longer working with you. If you fail to do this, they may take advantage of the situation and compromise your data.

4. Install policy-based controls

By setting up a policy-based system for controlling user access, you can ensure that only the right people can get into your system. Well-defined access policies make it much harder for hackers or unauthorized users to access sensitive data.

Using role-based access control (RBAC), you control the flow of information. Permission is granted explicitly based on the job duties of the individual.

5. Maintain visibility into the actions vendors are performing on your network

Many companies rely on third-party vendors for various software and database management services. Unfortunately, this can put your company at risk for data breaches – especially if the vendor doesn't have adequate security controls.

Your security access suite should have a capability that secures third-party remote access to your critical systems and data. It should also provide visibility into third-party vendor actions and application usage, so you can track what they're attempting to access and when.

6. Eliminate password fatigue

Password fatigue is a challenge for many organizations. It's more than the need for staff members to develop new passwords and remember them, though that’s an issue. It’s the constant need to change those passwords because they've been compromised somehow. There’s also the problem of asking users to sign-on to multiple systems and devices.

The solution is to reduce password fatigue – not by making users change their password less frequently, but by using an access management solution that secures privileged credentials to your systems by collecting, storing, and indexing account access. Enterprise single sign-on (SSO) limits the amount of time people must spend logging into different systems.

These capabilities make it easier for users to get into the systems they need without remembering endless combinations of characters.

7. Implement Zero Trust – and cut cyber insurance costs

With the number of emerging cyber threats growing in recent years, having a cybersecurity insurance policy as a safeguard is now necessary. The issue is that organizations that don't adhere to the appropriate security standards find themselves at the mercy of providers' rising premiums.

Multifactor authentication, user access provisioning, and privileged access management are three features providers look for when considering your policy costs. There are all standard requirements providers look for that keep your organization safe and cut cyber insurance costs.

Take the next step in building your secure access suite

Implementing the best practices outlined above is challenging if you need to gain experience managing secure access. The key is to identify the right partner – with the right tools – to help you do that.

Imprivata offers a full suite of digital identity solutions to ensure your people get the access they need without sacrificing security.

Learn more about how the right access suite of solutions can set you up for success