4 Key Things You Should Know About Access Governance

In today’s digital landscape, enterprises are tasked with ensuring that their employees have access to a comprehensive suite of applications to help them do their job effectively. But the work doesn’t stop there. To maintain visibility into their workforce, businesses have deployed user access management (UAM) systems designed to authorize and authenticate users across those applications.

The trouble with many UAM systems is that they are often limited when it comes to managing multiple identity types such as employees, customers, partners, and developers—especially when these users need to be provisioned across hundreds of enterprise applications. To manage these complexities, businesses need an access governance protocol that determines who has access to what, when. In this way, user access is mandated by built-in controls and policies.

The benefits of access governance

The goal of access governance is to support businesses as they become larger and more complex by keeping the oversight and control of user accounts simple. 

With automated processes and policies in place, access governance helps to minimize the burden on IT admins. With the right identity and access management (IAM) solution, access governance also provides them with a broader level of insight from a centralized platform. This way, IT can easily view who has access to which systems, when accounts were last used, who has administrator access, and more—all from one vantage point. With these tools, IT admins can get a granular view into each employee account and application while also having a birds-eye view of the organization as a whole.

As a result, the organization becomes more agile in pinpointing vulnerabilities and identifying unused accounts and licenses. And that, in turn, saves money and time that can be put towards more strategic initiatives. 

Identity governance and administration

When we combine access governance protocols with identity administration, we get identity governance and administration (IGA) systems. These systems have become essential as internal and external threats to an organization’s security continue to grow in both number and complexity. In fact, according to the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Access Management report, offering IGA through a SaaS model is now emerging as the industry standard. 

From a governance perspective IGA systems allow businesses to create rules to prevent giving users too much access to sensitive data; conduct access review functionalities; implement role-based management; and deploy tools that log activities and generate reports on authentication and authorization activities.

Data access management

Yet another key area of access governance is data access governance (DAG). Like its name implies, DAG provides oversight of unstructured data—information that can’t be easily stored in spreadsheets or other simple databases—found within emails, client files, and other company information.

According to IDC, by 2025, unstructured data will account for 80% of the world’s information. To grapple with this unprecedented amount of unstructured data, DAG helps organizations determine who has access and permissions to given files. Unsurprisingly, DAG is crucially important in healthcare, finance, and a wide cross-section of other industries. 

Reporting and compliance 

One of the most important roles for access governance is in supporting an organization’s reporting and compliance processes. By offering a comprehensive view across applications, IAM platforms paired with access governance protocols make it easier for businesses to audit their systems. Enterprises enabled by these systems can easily provide compliance reports that outline user access and permissions across the network. This is particularly important in an age where data privacy laws are becoming much more sophisticated, making it costly—both financially and reputationally—to be found in defiance of these regulations.

Interested in learning more?

Take a look at how Okta’s Identity Cloud creates a comprehensive access governance
framework for organizations of all sizes.