Access Management System

User access management demands a high level of accuracy

Learn how an access management system helps improve data security

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    An access management system can be used to manage and monitor user access permissions and access rights to files, systems, and services to help protect organizations from data loss and security breaches.

    The act of access management is all about controlling user access, which includes tracking and changing authorizations as needed. During normal business use, employees might access, change, or delete data. This isn’t a problem if this use is accurate and appropriate, however, when not monitored properly, it’s all too easy for users to make mistakes or even take malicious actions. Access management seeks to limit the information users can view or change to minimize the chances of improper activity.

    Limiting user access in an effective manner can be a complicated endeavor, especially since limiting access too severely can compromise business productivity. It can also get confusing fast. For instance, individual users may be allowed to edit File X but only view File Y. Or, a certain role-based group of users may need read-only permissions for certain types of data and no access at all for other types of data. Every time a user—or file—is added to the system, someone must consider—and apply—the proper access limitations, whether through manual or automatic means.

    Security access management systems are designed to automate, visualize, and streamline the process of assigning and managing the many complicated access settings outlined above. It’s worth noting because you must manage user access consistently across your IT infrastructure, access management systems must be able to integrate with other systems, including:


    • Active Directory: A directory service for Windows® networks to both authenticate and authorize end users, ensuring security policies are followed across the network. Active Directory includes Group Policy, which helps define advanced permissions settings.
    • OneDrive: A Microsoft-hosted cloud storage service used to host business files. Allows for syncing and sharing files across users.
    • SharePoint®: A web platform designed to function primarily as a system for collaborative business document management and storage.

    By adopting a security access management system integrated with your company’s file systems or access control environments, you’ll be better prepared to ensure correct security credentials are assigned across all users.

    But even with these systems in place, admins often need a mechanism with which to verify the user settings are correct and the user activity hasn’t caused a data breach. In many cases, admins must provide reports to auditors to show their data security policies are compliant with industry regulations. To help you fulfill this requirement, access management systems allow you to track user activity and perform automated reporting.

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    Access management systems are critical because they help bolster organization data security. Automated software helps ensure users have the correct permissions levels and only have access to the resources they need.

    As companies grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage employee roles and end-user activity, but there are many serious risks associated with substandard user access control. In fact, the average cost of a cybersecurity breach precipitated by an insider threat is $8.7 million. Many factors make poor user access control potentially damaging:


    • Accidental damages: Users with excess privileges could accidentally delete or share private enterprise data.
    • Bad actors: An employee with malicious intent could choose to corrupt data, steal data like customer lists for competitors, or expose financial data to undermine the organization.
    • Hackers: Hackers often attempt to gain access to user profiles because if they can hack into privileged accounts, they will enjoy privileged access to the sensitive data on the server.

    It’s clearly important to avoid granting users excess privileges. Typically, this involves enforcing the rule of least privileges, which means offering all users the lowest level of access possible while still allowing them to perform their roles.

    To ensure more accurate and secure user provisioning, it’s recommended you use access management tools to perform these tasks. Access management tools help ensure business security by offering the following features and capabilities:

    Automation: Relying on manual tools for user management can slow IT operations to a crawl and introduce errors, potentially exposing organizations to risk. By automating access management tasks like creating, modifying, deleting, or disabling accounts, access management systems help you scale your efforts to meet business demands. Automated capabilities help admins take faster, more accurate action. For instance, role-specific templates make user provisioning fast while ensuring you conform to security policies like least privilege by default. Automatic audit reports can also reduce the time it takes to gain insight into security issues, in part because they enable you to schedule reports for automatic transport directly to your auditor.

    Integration: Tools should integrate with common business systems like Active Directory and SharePoint. It can take time to perform user provisioning and deprovisioning, review current user access settings, and run audit reports on user activity. Admins need a straightforward, centralized way to manage, visualize, and change user information for all these tools.

    Security: When it comes to insider threats, it can be tough to distinguish between an innocent mistake and malicious activity. You need to respond as quickly as possible to these risks to help protect data and resume operations. Automated tools allow admins to instantly view breaches or drill down on the details of even ordinary user activity.

    Reporting: Auditors assessing HIPAA or PCI compliance expect user management policies to be actively monitored and enforced. Automated tools help you generate customized reports showing who has access to what, and when they accessed it. What’s more, by centralizing Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, and file server management and monitoring, access rights software helps simplify compliance and incident response.

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    There are certain requirements an access management system must meet to improve its IT and data security. Effective access management solutions must:

    Make user provisioning easier. Admins need to be able to perform fast, accurate account provisioning, not least to lighten their own workloads. That means being able to create, modify, activate, deactivate, and delete user access to services and files. It’s useful to be able to set up new user accounts with standardized role-specific templates. In some cases, admins can use built-in tools like a web-based, self-service permissions portal to put data access rights directly in the hands of data owners instead of administrators. That means users can request access rights directly from data owners.

    Provide insight into potential insider threats. Effective access management involves identifying and tracking high-risk accounts and activity to prevent insider attacks. Tools should enhance security by allowing you to monitor, analyze, and audit Active Directory and Group Policy to see what changes have been made, by whom, and when those changes occurred.

    Integrate with Active Directory, Group Policy, SharePoint, and more. Comprehensive access control solutions should integrate with widely-used authorization-related business systems like Active Directory, Group Policy, SharePoint, Exchange, and NTFS. You should be able to see group memberships and access rights settings from these tools all in one place, so you can quickly identify who has access to what. Plus, visibility into privileged accounts provides additional internal threat protection.

    Visualization features. It’s useful when access rights software provides at-a-glance visibility across your domain through maps or tree structures. Visualizing file server, SharePoint, and other permissions can help you quickly see who has access to which resources, offering a more intuitive approach than lists of permissions relationships.

    Support regulatory compliance. User access records are a critical component of many data security regulations, including HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI DSS. Admins need to be able to track and show changes to everything from server files to mailboxes to calendars. An auditing tool can quickly generate in-depth compliance reports showing user access rights and activity in a few clicks.

    Looking for a complete access management solution? SolarWinds Access Rights Manager is designed to meet all the above requirements by providing a comprehensive approach to managing security access.

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    It’s easy to confuse identity management and access management, but these are two distinct processes within organizations, and require different tools and methods.

    Identity management, or ID management, is how a business chooses to positively identify the employees or end users who need access to IT resources and services. The focus here is on authentication, which means confirming user identity. Is a certain user who they say they are? Authentication can be performed through passwords, single-use PINs, biometrics, multi-factor login requirements, or other similar means.

    Access management, on the other hand, is about authorization. Individuals or groups are meant to only have access to certain parts of the network, applications, or system. For instance, should a specific user have permission to download a certain file? End users across the business must be authorized, or given permissions, to access and use resources. While authentication comes before authorization, the step of authorizing users is also critical for ensuring security. For instance, end users should be given only the minimum permissions they need to perform their jobs. Most tools on the market are specialized to help with either identity management or access management.

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    When it comes to choosing an access authorization software, you should look for features offering admins ease-of-use and automation while helping reduce the risk of insider threat. As you look for the right access management solution, ask if tools offer you the ability to:


    • Manage user permissions across Active Directory, SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, and more?
    • Drill down into the details of user activity?
    • Quickly and accurately provision or deprovision users?
    • Easily enforce company security policies?
    • Visualize current user permissions relationships?
    • Set a data loss prevention strategy?
    • Delegate certain permissions responsibilities to data owners?
    • Run automatic reports for auditing?
    • Implement role-based access controls?
    • Demonstrate compliance for GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other regulatory guidelines?

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      Is your user access management system a sufficient solution? A single mistake when it comes to access rights can expose your organization to costly threats. Visibility is key for ensuring security and compliance. Admins need to be aware of current user access configurations, user activity, and unauthorized changes to sensitive files. For growing organizations, managing all this information manually can quickly become overwhelming. Without automated, integrated user access management tools, it’s far too easy to lose sight of permissions settings. Ultimately, to effectively manage user access across an organization, you need the right software solution.

      SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager is built to provide the insights organizations need to perform comprehensive access management, allowing users to focus on monitoring and controlling permissions to specific resources with the ability to easily audit user access, changes, and quickly generate reports to demonstrate compliance.

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      Top-notch security: ARM is designed to help minimize the risk and impact of insider threats by tracking changes in Active Directory® and Group Policy. You can also monitor privileged (and therefore high-risk) accounts. That way, you’re ready to act if problematic access occurs.

      Streamlined compliance and auditing: Improve compliance by detecting changes across folders, mailboxes, and calendars. Quickly view current permissions or generate audit-ready reports showing user rights.

      Fast, accurate provisioning: Set up new user accounts in seconds by leveraging role-specific templates. You can also offer data owners a self-service portal to put control directly in their hands.

      For enterprise-grade access management, learn more about what Access Rights Manager can do for your organization by downloading a free trial for 30 days.

    Get started with our easy-to-use access management system

    Access Rights Manager

    • Monitor and audit access rights changes to Active Directory.

    • Alert on unauthorized access or changes to Windows file servers.

    • Analyze and administer Exchange access rights.

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