Access Control: How AI Leverages Data to Improve Processes
Louis Philip Morin Louis Philip Morin
October 26 4 min

Access Control: How AI Leverages Data to Improve Processes

As new hires join your team or existing employees change roles, how do you quickly grant them access to necessary digital systems while also taking the time to ensure those systems remain safe?

It's a balancing act many organizations struggle to perfect, even once systems are integrated together. How do you know which privileges to grant? In the ever-shifting world of employee onboarding, “identity governance and administration," or IGA, are complex and time-consuming processes that most see as critical to mitigating risk.

Make a mistake and give employees more access than they require, and it could lead to inflated license costs or a serious security breach. But move too slowly in the access-provisioning process—or restrict access unnecessarily—and users may find it impossible to retrieve everything they need to be productive in their jobs.

The Problem: Insider Threats and Individual Permissions

For companies that have gone through a recent merger or acquisition, or seen major executive reorganizations, the importance of IGA cannot be overstated. The same goes for companies in the retail industry, where employee turnover is typically high, and for organizations holding sensitive data, like those in the healthcare, banking, and insurance industries.

One recent report found that nearly 75 percent of business security breach incidents are due to "insider threats" from an organization's own employees. And while most of these threats aren't deliberate, they can lead to significant financial damage. So far in 2020, the global average total cost of a data breach has been $3.86 million.

Another study found 82 per cent of IT professionals said their business was exposed to risk because of poor IGA practices. High employee turnover, they noted, had ratcheted up the pressure to move fast, but they struggled to do so with everything else on their plates. Some reported exposures to employee data (36%) as a result, while others (26%) said their companies experienced financial losses.

For administrators, the tightrope walk that is identity and access management often detracts from more impactful work. Rather than focusing on innovation and process improvement, or detecting and remediating important security issues, they instead spend hours on the menial tasks associated with determining individual permissions. Compliance challenges, certifications, securing multiple manager approvals—it's a repetitive and tedious undertaking even for an experienced IGA team.

The Solution: Automating IGA with Access Governor

The good news: It doesn't have to be this way. The solution, according to the Identity Management Institute, is for companies to bolster their Identity and Access Management (IAM) practices using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. With “AI-powered IAM," as the institute describes it, organizations rely on powerful software to automatically mine and process their access and usage data. Such technologies can offer instant visibility across an organization's systems and networks, “which enables IT teams to implement smarter administrative actions and make more informed decisions regarding user permissions," IMI explains.

A number of vendors in the digital-security space are developing tools that deploy AI, but our own solution—Access Governor—is the only one designed with AI at the core. Integrated with an organization's existing systems and customized with baseline thresholds determined by administrators, it leverages historical data and AI to automatically determine access needs and recommend access policies. By combining automated role-based (RBAC) and attribute-based (ABAC) access provisioning with “human-in-the-loop" flexibility, Access Governor handles most of the heavy lifting but also lets IT staff step in as needed.

Access control systems for employee onboarding are well established, but they inevitably require manual configuration of rules and protocols. Access Governor's data-mining capabilities adds a layer of intelligence to the process to empower teams to act quickly and decisively.

Results: Cost Savings and Improved Productivity

In the end, a tool like Access Governor can drive time and cost savings by reducing access requests and required certification efforts. It can facilitate gains in productivity by minimizing access delays for joiners and movers, and it can improve compliance while reducing certification fatigue for administrators. It allows employee roles to be updated proactively and as needed, instead of merely periodically. Finally, because it augments a company's current technologies rather than simply replacing them, it stands to improve the return on investment for those systems and further boost the bottom line.