No matter how mature your organization is in its identity governance approach, there’s one thing you may be overlooking that poses a huge risk to your business. Hidden access. How confident are you that you have revealed all the hidden access risks that are lurking in your network? If hidden access concerns you, then you are in good company. According to a recent study, 76 percent of organizations reported a violation of privileged access policies within the last year. This means users had privileges to a system or application that was previously unknown to the organization and accessed a system when they were not supposed to.

These types of incidents not only increase threats, they magnify identity risks throughout the business, and create considerable challenges when it comes to regulatory compliance. In other words, what you don’t know can actually hurt you. In this blog, we will take a look at what hidden access means and give you three specific ways you can mitigate the hidden access risks that exist within your organization.

What Is Hidden Access?

Finding and evaluating hidden access is essential for any business to effectively mitigate identity-related risks. But you have to know what it is and how it’s defined before you can deal with it. Hidden access is considered an unknown or unidentified level of authorization or privilege given intentionally or unintentionally to a user or group of users for internal networks, systems, or applications within an organization.

Hidden access can happen if an individual has gone outside the normal access request process—commonly referred to as ‘out-of-band’ access. It can also originate from orphaned accounts, abandoned accounts, unnecessary entitlements, or privileged accounts. Ultimately, when users have unnecessary, unknown, or excessive access privileges, or if these privileges were obtained out-of-band, it significantly increases the risk to an organization.

How to Reveal the Hidden Access In Your Organization

Revealing levels of hidden access that exist throughout your organization is essential to enhancing your overall security posture. But how can you get to the heart of access that people have? If you are waiting for an audit to uncover hidden access, you may be too late. What you need is a way to spot and evaluate access risks across all of your business-critical systems that may be posed by internal threats. Let’s take a look at three key ways you can do this:  

#1: Harness Access Risk Intelligence

One way to reveal hidden access levels in your company is to leverage access risk intelligence. Your organization needs deep insights on both current and historic access risk, and it must constantly monitor data to understand trends that affect your business. By leveraging intelligence with visual-based AI, you can examine large amounts of user entitlement data, rapidly correlate access relationships to prioritize risks, and uncover deeply nested and hidden relationships that exist between user identities and their granular access within an organization.

Our Access Insight solution works in tandem with the Access Risk Quick Scan to immediately diagnose and reveal hidden access risk in your organization. The Quick Scan arms you with actionable information and insights, providing immediate visibility into your most pressing hidden access risks. Solutions like Access Insight leverage intelligent identity analytics to help identify risk and policy violations, so your organization can put a plan in place to effectively address your biggest identity risks. This is applicable not only to the risk that is easy to identify, but to access risk that is hidden from direct view or inherited in a complex environment.

#2: Leverage Intelligent Role-Based Access

Organizations can simplify the complexity of hidden access by taking an approach where it’s easy to see what roles belong together. Roles are a collection of access privileges typically defined around a job title or job function. Using roles, organizations can have solid, predefined, and preapproved access policies in place, and know specifically which access privileges each person needs and what access to remove—reducing the chances for hidden accounts.

By showing logical groupings of users and entitlements, you can easily see patterns of access that should define roles by examining the clusters of access across individual users. With a graphical matrix display to group like-access privileges together, you can be sure you understand the access that individuals have in common and what outliers might be present. This enables you to focus on role definitions and role assignments rather than individual accounts, decreasing the chances of hidden access risks and bolstering your organizational security.

#3: Conduct Streamlined Access Certification 

Hidden access can also be revealed when leveraging an access certification process that is easy to understand and easy to use. Our access certification solution offers graphical visualizations to clearly and quickly see common user entitlements and rapidly identify outliers, including hidden access previously unknown in your organization. This allows you to simplify, accelerate, and improve the accuracy of access reviews and approvals, and uncover those hidden access risks that pose the biggest threat in your organization.

Ready to Uncover Your Hidden Access Risks?

Hidden access risks pose a tremendous threat to your business. So it’s time to reveal what you hadn’t seen before. You must take an active role in uncovering hidden access in your organization by leveraging intelligent identity governance solutions. Start by conducting a quick scan of your environment through the Core Access Risk Quick Scan. You can only act on what you see, so start revealing the hidden access in your organization today.

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