Information Security

Managing Access Control to Secure Sensitive Information

Access control is all about giving the right people access to information without giving access to the wrong people. But in a fast-paced business environment, access requirements can be fluid. So what can you do to manage access control to sensitive information?

As a small business owner, you can't afford to take information security lightly.

Protecting your company's sensitive information and data is a critical 21st century business function. It's also one of the biggest challenges your company will face on a go-forward basis.

Ultimately, information security boils down to one thing: Access. When you can control access to your information systems and databases, you take a big step toward a more secure information environment. But for many organizations, access control isn't as straightforward as it seems. Variable access requirements and personnel changes create highly fluid IT environments that threaten even the most carefully designed security strategies.

But despite the challenges, it is possible to create an access control system that accommodates the requirements of a fluid workplace. Managing access control to secure sensitive information is in your grasp - and here's how to get started.

  • Set access levels. The launching point for access control management is to conduct an assessment of the users and devices that require access to your organization's information systems. A thorough appraisal of actual use requirements (rather than perceived use requirements) will lay the groundwork for a more secure strategy. The idea is to assign users and devices precise access for their required functions - and nothing more.
  • Maintain consistent updates. A one-time evaluation of access levels isn't enough. Instead, you will need to establish mechanisms for constantly updating access levels based on personnel changes, system upgrades and workflow modifications. Users can request additional access, but approval should flow through a predefined process.
  • Perform systemic evaluations. System-wide evaluations should be conducted at regular intervals that have been defined by your overall information security strategy. To be safe, you may want to require all users to update their passwords whenever you conduct an evaluation. However, if a security threat presents itself in between evaluation periods, don't hesitate to conduct an intermediate access control review.
  • Create acceptable use policies. Many security breaches are the result of inappropriate use or employee negligence. A formal and written acceptable use policy can minimize the potential for misuse of your information systems, especially if system users are required to sign the document as a condition of employment.

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