Eight signs your lack of access control has become a major data security risk

June 17, 2021 Claranet Limited

Eight signs your lack of access control has become a major data security risk

With the average breach costing £3.9 million, businesses are in a precarious place when it comes to protecting their data. What’s worse, cybercrime is up a staggering 600 percent because of the digitisation caused by the pandemic.

With everyone working from home, and more data going into the cloud, it’s harder for organisations to prevent security incidents. Indeed, according to IBM, when the majority of people started working from home, the average cost of a data breach went up by £104,000.

Ineffective access control is one of the reasons organisations have struggled. Keeping user identities, passwords and resources secure isn’t easy when people are using IT so much more.

So, the question is: does your company have effective access controls in place? The good news is there are clear warning signs that you need an upgrade. Like looking at a cybersecurity barometer, you’ll discover whether your business has the access controls it needs to keep its data safe.

Let’s unpack the eight signs you need to watch out for.

They are:

  1. Lost or leaked data
  2. Siloed information
  3. Overstretched IT and security teams
  4. Passwords shared with third parties
  5. Flagged issues during an audit
  6. Non-compliance with regulation(s)
  7. An ever-growing list of applications
  8. Manual access controls

1. Lost or leaked data

Does your organisation suffer from lost or leaked data?

As you can imagine, this is a clear indicator that your access controls 
aren’t good enough.

Indeed, according to Ted Wagner, CISO at SAP National Security Services: ‘In every data breach, access controls are among the first policies investigated.’

Put simply, if you don't manage who has access to your sensitive information, it’s more likely your data will get lost or leaked.

2. Siloed information

Unfortunately, data silos are a common problem. One report found that 47 percent of those asked said their company data was ‘siloed and difficult to access’.

Data siloes are themselves a security risk. There's inevitably more chance of a data breach with no overarching control on how you manage (or provide access) to data.

The answer is to de-silo your data and modernise your access controls.

3. Overstretched IT and security teams

According to IBM, the average lifecycle for a security breach is 280 days from identification to containment. It’s a clear indicator of how security problems vastly drain your IT resources.

So, if your IT and security teams spend too much time and money following up on security incidents, it’s a clear sign you need to improve your access controls. It’s a way to proactively get ahead of IT issues and prevent data breaches from happening in the first place. Then, your IT teams can focus on more high-leverage strategies, like deploying new technology.

4. Passwords shared with third parties

If third parties get their hands on your company passwords, that's another sign access control is a problem for your firm.

This might be because a staff member uses work passwords interchangeably with their personal passwords. Or, it could be because they intentionally or accidentally gave a password to a family member or friend.

If you’re unconvinced and thinking, ‘my staff would never do that’, consider these facts:

  • Employees share an average of eight passwords between personal and work accounts.
  • A worrying 25 percent of staff share work-related passwords with friends and family.

5. Flagged issues during a security test

One of the clearest signs your access control needs an upgrade is having it flagged by a security test.

The test might find, for example, that staff who have left the company still have access to company systems. Naturally, this is a big red flag.

We recommend you regularly perform audits and security tests. They’re a great way to provide a comprehensive review of your organisation's IT infrastructure and clarify whether your access control is up to par.

At Claranet, we perform a range of security tests that can help. These include:

  • IT Health Check. Manual and automated tests to put your security through its paces.
  • Red Teaming. Penetration testing and other tactics to achieve a certain test objective.

6. Non-compliance with regulation(s)

Regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA and CCPA, are a challenge for many businesses to comply with. And, if you’re failing to meet these standards, it could be due to poor access management.

Regulators might flag your poor access control as the direct reason why you fail compliance. Or, your poor access control could lead to secondary issues that mean you aren’t compliant. For example, a data breach (caused by incompetent access control) triggers a GDPR violation.

Either way, it's better to modernise your access control so you can comply with regulations. Here are some of our resources to help you on the path to security compliance.

7. An ever-growing list of applications

According to one study, ten percent of businesses use over 200 applications.
The added complexity of managing access to so many applications is a challenge for many businesses. It’s also a sign that you need to bolster your access management. After all, with so many logins and locations for sensitive data, you increase the odds of something going wrong.

So, if you’ve eagerly added more applications but not modernised your access controls at the same pace, it could be time for an upgrade.

8. Manual access controls

According to one report, human error causes 90 percent of data breaches. So, it’s wise to deploy automation when possible.

That’s because manual processes inevitably lead to mistakes. They’re also more time-consuming and eat up staff productivity.

Fortunately, automating access control is easy to sell both in terms of preventing breaches and increasing productivity. In fact, according to Forester, commercial automated identity access solutions can achieve more than 100 percent ROI improvement over manual processes.

Modernise your access controls to protect your business

So, having explored the signs to watch out for, what is the key solution to reinforcing your access controls?

The answer is to deploy the latest identity access management 
(IAM) throughout your organisation.

IAM is a framework of policies and technologies that ensure the right people have access to the right areas of your business.

Here are the benefits that effective IAM will bring:

  • Reduced burden on IT and security teams. Instead of continuously firefighting and wasting time and money responding to security issues, there are pro-active systems to protect your company.
  • Improved operational efficiency. Providing access (and revoking it) is problematic when you don’t have proper IAM. Often, that’s due to a lack of visibility into who has access to what.
  • Level up your security. You’ll suffer fewer security issues when access is properly set up. People only have access to the resources they need to do their job. No more. No less.
  • Better quality of life for end-users. It’s not only about security. With proper IAM, end-users can access systems on various devices and at any time and location.

Looking for better access controls? IAM sure we can help

The IAM sector has predicted growth of over ten percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 – 2025. This demonstrates how organisations everywhere are waking up to the necessity of IAM.

As we’ve seen, various red flags point to your lack of access control as a security risk. From lost data and password sharing to siloed information and a lack of automation - there are many signs to watch out for.

Fortunately, if you do find yourself suffering from these red flags, there’s also a proven way to protect your company. That means deploying modern IAM throughout your business.

If you’d like to talk with one of our expert team and explore how your company can best adapt IAM, reach out for a chat today.

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