Data Access Governance, what is it and how does it help?

Data access governance (DAG) helps avoid accidental or even intentional disclosure of private or confidential data by limiting access to the data, who can access it, and what they can do with it.  DAG will also identify things like Who has been accessing your data. Jokingly, it can be referred to as the “Early Warning Detection System for Employee Resignations” Why you ask?, well, DAG will build a footprint of user activity, show the normal data access and usage statistics for each individual users and when that spikes for any reason such as an employee planning to leave your organization that suddenly starts to download files, delete documents, move customer records to a private store or private email, pushing of individually created data being pushed to external systems or private email, etc. 

Read on to find out what data access governance is and how your company can benefit from it implementation within your existing security stack.

What is data access governance?

You can broadly define DAG as the policies, procedures, and technology used to manage user access to sensitive data across an organization. This methodology provide you with Attestations or validations that only the appropriate team members have access to data or systems contained within your corporate network. The use of DAG will provide things like PAM – Privileged Access Management, Threat Prevention through anomaly detection and alerting, Data Classification with built in Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Access Visibility, Remediation capabilities and finally things like Secure Access, Monitoring and Enforcement.

What are the advantages of DAG?

There are many reasons why you may choose to implement a formal policy for managing data access. They include:

  • DAG assists in the implementation of “Least Access Privileges” that will ensure that users have access to what they need and nothing more.
  • DAG helps establish access levels for various data types, information repositories, and levels in an organization (from department to division).
  • It helps ensure that users do not abuse or accidentally misuse corporate data. avoiding internal data theft and other forms of misconduct involving unauthorized access or misuse of corporate or customer information.
  • It provides insight to the access levels in place for the information within an organization’s internal networks.
  • It may be used as evidence when attempting to limit liabilities in matters related to employee misconduct or data breaches, such as proving that employees have been restricted from accessing certain areas or parts of information networks.
  • It may promote overall productivity by implementing best practices around industry methods for securing corporate assets and intellectual property (e.g., asset managers can help ensure proper implementation).
  • DAG helps address compliance with HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, Basel II, and other regulatory compliance requirements that an organization may need.
  • Encourages a culture of sharing while preserving confidentiality.

When should our organization use DAG?

DAG is the method of understanding who has access to your systems and data, who should be accessing these resources and who is actually using the resources in question. Identifying these permissions and access levels now will prevent the misuse of data through proper monitoring, management and using a model of Least Access Privileges. Breaches of corporate networks and systems or applications is caused by uncontrolled or compromised access controls. Monitoring and Enforcement help you improve your posture and identify when someone is doing something that is not appropriate or normal. 

Consider DAG for your data that is stored due to regulatory requirements. Stale data that is not being used is every bit as important or sensitive as the data you are actively using day to day. Giving users free access to any stored data is a risk in itself. Not watching this data for inappropriate access attempts, data mining activity, lateral movement of data or changing this data at all could put your organization at risk. DAG gives you the confidence that you know who is doing what and that only the appropriate team members have access to the data you are responsible for. Adhering to regulatory requirements themselves is a lot of work, using DAG as an automation tool to assist you in this effort is absolutely the best option you could provide.

What do I need to implement DAG?

You’ll need to decide which tool or solutions provided on the market are best for your respective environment. Your security strategy is key in this decision. It is much easier to pick an off-the-shelf solution than developing and managing any real DAG solution from scratch. The complexity, depth of functionality, requirements from regulatory auditors, the need for collaboration between these tools and your other security stack solutions all tie into the decision on what is appropriate. The prepackaged solutions have a number of critical features like permission controls in Windows, Linux, Active Directory, Databases, Web Applications, Etc. These solutions also provide capabilities such as PAM or Privileged Access Management, Data Classification or Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Threat Prevention through complete visibility, Secure Access Control and much more. These key features are the indication that you have chosen a solid DAG solution. 

You may need to hire a subject matter expert or train team members so they have the level of expertise to properly provide oversight on these tools. The use of security training or training on DAG products and services is something offered by most of the VARs and or Partners that offer these solutions and this will enhance your security posture within your organization ensuring you are providing the proper level of controls.

Data Access Governance at a glance

Businesses that don’t control and organize their data will unknowingly put themselves at risk for compliance issues and unintentional data breaches. Lack of monitoring, over permissioning, lack of use or misuse of Data Classification can also cause your organization unnecessary risk. 

When you establish a detailed Governance strategy, you define how, when and where your employees access information to do their job while protecting this sensitive information from prying eyes. To find out more about Data Access Governance, feel free to reach out to our sales team for more information and assistance.