Understanding the Working of Privileged Access Governance

Privileged Access Governance (PAG) is a critical element of access security. It addresses the security challenges of complex IT infrastructure, third-party access, and the persistent threat of excessive privileges.

The focus of PAG is to govern user privileges once they are granted. It involves defining policies, conducting access reviews, and ensuring that only authorised personnel can access sensitive data.

How Does Privileged Access Governance Review User Privileges?

PAG relies on access certification, or entitlement reviews, to govern user privileges. This process allows organisations to review and validate users’ access rights and permissions regularly.

1. Policy Engine:

The Policy Engine serves as the brain of the Privileged Access Governance system. It defines the criteria for access reviews, determining what needs to be reviewed and why. Policies are created based on security requirements, compliance standards, and organisational protocols. These policies set the foundation for the entire governance process, guiding the system in identifying which accounts or activities need attention and scrutiny.

2. Review Masters and Review Schedulers:

Review Masters and Review Schedulers categorise access reviews into different types based on account type, asset type, or risk level. They also determine the frequency and periodicity of these reviews. For instance, high-risk accounts require more frequent reviews than low-risk ones. These components ensure a systematic and organised approach to access governance. Organisations can effectively manage their resources and focus on other critical aspects by categorising reviews and scheduling them appropriately.

3. Data Snapshot:

The Data Snapshot component fetches relevant data from various sources within the organisation’s Privileged Access Management (PAM) data store. This data includes information about user accounts, access privileges, recent activities, and any changes made to permissions. By providing an encompassing overview of access privileges, the Data Snapshot equips the governance system with real-time and historical data, enabling accurate assessments and informed decision-making during the access review.

4. Action Manager: 

The Action Manager is responsible for initiating compliance actions based on the results of access reviews. When discrepancies or exceptions are identified during the review process, the Action Manager ensures that appropriate actions are taken promptly. This might include revoking excessive privileges, updating permissions, or implementing additional security measures. By managing exceptions effectively, the Action Manager ensures that the organisation adheres to its security protocols and maintains a secure environment for sensitive data and resources.

5. Log Management: 

The Log Management component maintains detailed records of all activities related to access reviews and governance processes. It creates an audit trail that tracks every action taken within the system. This comprehensive record-keeping is invaluable for accountability, compliance, and forensic analysis. In the event of security incidents or audits, having a detailed log of activities allows organisations to trace back and understand the sequence of events, aiding in investigations and ensuring transparency and accountability.

Why Should Organisations Certify Access and Entitlements?

The complexity of modern technology infrastructure means that most users possess access privileges that exceed their immediate requirements. Access and entitlement reviews are pivotal in identifying and rectifying these discrepancies.

Organisations can systematically manage excessive privileges by scheduling and conducting multiple reviews simultaneously based on account type, asset type, or high-risk accounts.

Typically, the process of reviewing permissions and authorisations addresses the following:

– Which users have access to what resources within the organisation?

– The level of access that everyone has been given

– The authorised, approved, and assigned permissions


– Any access rights deemed to be unauthorised or out of scope

Access certification covers all access rights, from internal employees to external parties like contractors and business partners. It includes permissions for applications, shared files, databases, and networks within the organisation.

Keeping an eye on these access privileges is crucial. Business line managers and application owners play a key role here. They are the ones responsible for closely monitoring and confirming these access rights. Their job is to ensure that their users’ permissions match their specific job roles and responsibilities. It is all about ensuring everyone has the right level of access to get their job done without compromising security.

The Benefits of Implementing Privileged Access Governance

Automated PAG:

Manual user access reviews often rely on script-based methods. Manual reviews come with the risk of human error. The shift to automated PAG can enhance efficiency and reduce the risk of human errors.

Mitigating the Risk of Permanent Access:

To reduce the risk of perpetual excessive privileges, PAG allows for the periodic delegation of review rights. Access reviews and the ability to delegate these responsibilities ensure that permanent access to accounts is effectively managed and monitored.

Proving Compliance through Simplified Certification

Privileged Access Governance can help prove compliance controls. Organisations can define specific data filters, approval levels, and action managers per regulation by delegating responsibilities to approvers and owners. This streamlined approach brings multiple stakeholders onto a common platform, facilitating efficient access review and certification processes.

Sectona provides a built-in Privileged Access Governance module within its comprehensive PAM platform. With this feature, enterprises can experience a hassle-free PAG implementation with simple licensing. This feature simplifies user entitlement governance and saves time.

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