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The critical realm of application security and control automation encompasses a myriad of intricate factors, ranging from the technologies utilized to the personnel in charge. It’s a complex domain demanding unwavering attention and precision. One key part of the puzzle is keeping tabs on all the different accesses that users possess and retaining only those accesses that are absolutely needed while removing the rest. This, in a nutshell, is user access certification

Understanding Access Certification

Access certification forms an integral part of a secure system. It ensures that every individual in an organization has the necessary access to perform their job functions safely and efficiently. This process applies to everyone within an organization, from data entry operators to high-level executives, each with unique access needs.

This is not a one-time event but a continuous review of who has access to what. Through this, the organization can maintain control over its systems and data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or malicious activities. Without this essential process, organizations may expose themselves to security breaches.

The Three Pillars of Access Certification

Risk Analysis

Access certification begins with risk analysis. This step identifies potential risks associated with different access levels within an organization. It allows organizations to make informed decisions about access to information and systems. However, risk analysis isn’t just about identifying threats. It also involves creating strategies to mitigate these risks, helping protect sensitive data and prevent threats.


Compliance forms the second pillar of access certification. Organizations must adhere to industry standards and legal regulations, which vary based on location and business nature. These regulations often demand strict control over access to specific data and systems. Access certification ensures organizations stay within these rules, helping avoid penalties and protect their reputation from non-compliance damages.

Access Management Processes

The third pillar of access certification is establishing solid access management processes. This involves setting up systems for granting, modifying, and revoking access to resources. Moreover, it includes monitoring to ensure access aligns with organizational policies. Any unusual activities should trigger immediate alerts, prompting swift remediation measures. This approach not only secures resources but also promotes a culture of accountability among the workforce, making access management processes vital to access certification.

Frequency of Access Certification: How Often Should Businesses Do It?

Establishing an optimal frequency for access certification within an organization is a key component of the process. This timing can be influenced by your business’s nature, the data types you manage, and your security needs. Here are some guidelines to make your access certification process effective.

Consistent User Access Certification

Access certification should be a constant process. Regularly reviewing and updating access permissions to accommodate changes in roles, responsibilities, or job functions is crucial. Many businesses choose quarterly access reviews, which help to monitor access consistently and make necessary adjustments.

Quarterly reviews also meet many regulatory requirements. Some sectors require organizations to perform access reviews every 90 days. Adhering to this schedule can assist your organization in complying with these regulations.

Access Certification During Major Changes

It’s also vital to conduct access certification during major changes within your organization. These changes can include mergers, acquisitions, departmental restructuring, or the introduction of new systems or applications.

Such transitions often result in changes to employees’ roles and responsibilities, affecting their access needs. Conducting access certification during these periods ensures that your access controls accurately represent these changes, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.

Event-triggered Access Certification

Implementing event-triggered access certification is also essential. This method initiates access reviews when specific events occur, such as an employee being promoted, switching departments, or leaving the company.

Conducting access certification in response to these events ensures that individuals have the correct access levels at the right times. It provides an additional security layer by promptly addressing potential risks associated with changes in access rights.

Continuous Access Certification

Consider implementing continuous access certification, a proactive approach involving constant monitoring and adjustment of access rights. This method allows for immediate detection and correction of inappropriate access, offering a high level of security.

While continuous access certification may require more resources, it provides the highest security level. It enables your organization to respond quickly to changes in the threat environment and is valuable for organizations handling sensitive data.

The frequency of access certification considerably impacts its effectiveness. Whether you choose regular intervals, event-triggered certification, or continuous monitoring, it’s important to develop a strategy that suits your organization’s needs and resources. Access certification is not a one-time event but an ongoing process essential for maintaining security.

User Access Certification Best Practices

Best practices are essential for robust and effective access certification. They help control system access efficiently, reducing security breach risks.

Creating an Access Certification Policy

Begin by crafting a clear access certification policy. Identify which systems and data need access certification. Outline the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the certification process. Detail the methods for granting, modifying, and revoking access rights.

Establish guidelines for dealing with violations and unauthorized access incidents. Determine the frequency and timeline of the certification process. A comprehensive policy stands as the foundation of successful access certification.

  • Identify systems and data needing access certification.
  • Define roles and responsibilities in the process.
  • Determine procedures for access rights.
  • Create guidelines for violations and unauthorized access.
  • Set the frequency and timeline for certification.

Setting an Access Review Schedule

Establishing a review schedule is crucial. Regular access reviews ensure accurate access control. Reviews can be quarterly, event-triggered, or continuous, depending on the nature of your business, industry requirements, and resources. Regardless, consistency and regularity should be your goals.

  • Ensure that accessibility rights are frequently modified.
  • Review access during significant organizational changes.
  • Implement event-triggered and continuous certification.

Implementing Automation

Automation can streamline your access certification process. Automated tools can efficiently monitor, detect, and report unusual access activities. They aid in quickly identifying and resolving access issues. Automation allows for accurate management of complex access certification tasks with less effort.

  • Automate access activity monitoring.
  • Use tools to detect and report unauthorized access.
  • Resolve access issues swiftly with automation.

In summary, successful access certification relies on these best practices. A comprehensive policy, a defined review schedule, and automation are the cornerstones of effective access certification.

User Access Certifications with Pathlock Certifications

Certifications is one of the many modules of Pathlock’s Application Access Governance product. It enables our customers to not only achieve better compliance but also make the entire review process simpler, more efficient, and cost-effective using automation and cross-application capabilities. Our Certifications module 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 reviews have taken place. Here’s how:

  • Cross-app Access Reviews: Enables you to perform multi-system access reviews simultaneously to get a full view of all user accesses across business applications like SAP, Salesforce, Oracle EBS, and more.
  • Campaign Segmentation: Certification campaigns can be run based on attributes like role, dept, geo, SoD risks, etc. This allows high-risk user groups to be reviewed more frequently than the low-risk user base.
  • One-click Approval/Revocation: Allows role owners and supervisors to grant/remove specific user access directly without IT involvement. The customizable auto-lock also decertifies inactive users automatically.
  • Detailed Usage Insights: The module provides reviewers with usage insights to make informed decisions. They can see data at the account, role, and entitlement level, including frequency and last date of usage.

Get in touch with us today to learn how our Certifications module enables you to save time and cost by leveraging automation and cross-app capabilities.

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