During the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic, with an increasing number of people now working remotely, securing your organization’s resources has never been more important.

Properly managing employee access to your organization’s data and resources is critical to ensuring the security of your resources. Failure to have the proper procedures or systems in place can result in potential data breaches and security risks for your organization — not to mention the associated expenses that can result from it.

During these uncertain times, the call for strict and tightened security protocols has never been greater. How can your organization manage employee access rights to ensure that you don’t fall victim to the vast number of security risks that the improper management of your resources can provide?

Below, are three immediate actions that your organization can take to begin securing your data and resources now, while efficiently managing employee access.

1: Implement an Identity and Access Management solution. An IAM system will allow you to reclaim the security of your resources by automating access privileges assignments. Access rights are granted/revoked based off a given user’s current role within the organization.

You can imagine how frequently employees will switch roles within your organization. Whether they are promoted, transferring to different departments, assigned to ad hoc projects, or leaving the organization, access changes happen. You need to correctly monitor users’ access so that they don’t accumulate “permission bloat” and become a potential security risk.

In addition to securely managing access while employees are still with the organization, you need to have the proper offboarding procedures in place so that their accounts (and access rights) are all deactivated/revoked. Failure to have a proper offboarding procedure can result in the creation of “orphan accounts.” Orphan accounts are those without an associated user, but still possess access rights within the organization. Identifying and removing orphan accounts is critical in tightening up and securing your resources.

Check out the infographic above for more on orphaned accounts.

2: Perform an access review with your IAM solution. Any traditional IAM system will provide you with the capability to extensively log employee access, making it very easy to audit and determine where the potential security risks in your organization lie.

A successful Identity Management strategy includes maintaining strong oversight over employees’ access rights. Strong auditing capabilities allows your organization to identify employees with bloated access, and take immediate action to revoke the extra access, thus ensuring that they only have the access required to do their job.

3: Adopt the “Principle of Least Privilege” when reconciling access rights and determining those for the future. This action is more preventative rather than reactive. The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) states that your employees should have only the exact access rights needed to perform their job functions — no more, no less.

By enforcing the Principle of Least Privilege, you can prevent employees’ inevitable, slow accumulation of access rights. Even if you have automated your access management processes, you’ll need to determine what collection of rights are given to various roles. With every new system or resource, you may need to revisit your automation and ensure it adheres to PoLP.

This method should not be the only action your organization takes to regain security of its resources, but can provide a strong starting point for organizations that are looking into ways to tighten up on security. The failure to follow PoLP can result in unnecessary compliance violations, and a very confusing, cluttered IT environment for your organization.

Closing thoughts

Protecting the security of your resources and data has never been more important. As many organizations currently have employees working remote, the security risks of organizational resources are already greatly increased.

It is critical to tighten up which employees have access to specific resource and being vigilant about the procedures/processes you put in place to combat bloated access/orphan accounts. These make all the difference between a secure Identity Management strategy, and one still filled with risky vulnerabilities for your organization.