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Most organizations today operate in a hybrid, multi-application environment. This also means that sensitive information and users who access this information are spread across applications. When this is the case, a crucial aspect of cybersecurity is managing access to those various applications. To tackle this challenge effectively, many organizations have turned to implementing cross-application access certifications. In this blog post, we will delve into what cross-application certifications are and why they are an essential part of any organization’s security and compliance efforts.

What Are Cross-application Access Certifications?

It’s a fact that most organizations use tens or even hundreds of applications to complete their business processes. The challenge is that every application vendor has developed their own security schema to meet the needs of their applications, limiting the visibility of potential risks across applications.

This is why cross-application access certifications serve several critical purposes that contribute to an organization’s security, compliance, and operational efficiency. Having cross-app visibility enables security and compliance teams to gain a complete view of every single access a user possesses across applications down to the entitlement level.

This shifts the perspective from being application-centric to more user-centric. The result is greater insight into user roles, role usage, role conflicts, and cross-app access risks that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Why Are Cross-application Access Certifications Essential?

Cross-application access certifications are fundamental to application Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) systems. They provide a structured and systematic approach to ensuring that employees, contractors, and other users have the appropriate levels of access to the various applications and systems they need to perform their job roles effectively.

Enhanced Security

Security is paramount in today’s interconnected world. Access certifications play a pivotal role in bolstering an organization’s security posture by:

  • Preventing Unauthorized Access: Regular reviews ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and systems, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.
  • Detecting Anomalies: Access certifications can help detect suspicious changes or access patterns that may indicate security threats by comparing current access rights with baseline access levels.
  • Mitigating Insider Threats: Access certifications enable organizations to monitor and manage the access of employees and contractors, helping to minimize insider threats and potential data leaks due to separation of duties violations.

Regulatory Compliance

Numerous regulatory frameworks, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX, require organizations to maintain strict control over user access to sensitive data. Access certifications provide an audit trail and documentation that demonstrates compliance with these regulations.

Traditionally, organizations have to collect evidence and audit access on an application-by-application basis, dramatically increasing workloads and the potential for human error. Failing to meet compliance requirements can result in hefty fines and legal consequences. Cross-application certifications, while providing a comprehensive view of risk, also simplify audits by enabling multi-application certifications and deeper insights into user access.

Operational Efficiency

Access certifications not only enhance security and compliance but also contribute to operational efficiency. Here’s how:

  • Streamlined Onboarding and Offboarding: When employees join or leave an organization, access certifications ensure that access rights are updated promptly, reducing the risk of former employees retaining access to sensitive information.
  • Reduced IT Overhead: Automating access certification processes can significantly reduce the burden on IT departments, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Clear Accountability: Access certifications assign clear ownership of access rights to specific individuals or roles, promoting accountability within the organization.

Cost Reduction

Data breaches and security incidents can be expensive, both in terms of financial losses and damage to an organization’s reputation. Access certifications help mitigate these risks, potentially saving significant costs associated with security incidents, legal battles, and compliance fines.

Cross-application Certifications with Pathlock

Cross-application Certifications, a module that is a part of Pathlock’s Application Access Governance product, offers a comprehensive solution to the complex challenge of access management. The module automates the process of reviewing application access, which is often a long, labor-intensive process prone to human error. It manages the entire review process, enables reviewers to make informed decisions on whether to confirm or revoke access, and provides the audit trail to prove recertifications have taken place.

With customizable, automated workflows, you can eliminate spreadsheets, buried emails, and chasing down absent-minded reviewers, significantly reducing the time, effort, and cost of running recertification campaigns. Additionally, its cross-application capability makes it easy for reviewers to get a full view of access usage while allowing campaign managers to run multi-application campaigns simultaneously.

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