Access Certification Explained: Your Gateway to Streamlined Access Management and Robust Compliance

16 May, 2024

With the rise of cloud technologies and hybrid work, it is becoming increasingly challenging for IAM administrators to maintain a secure and compliant environment to safeguard sensitive business data and systems. They need to ensure that only authorized individuals are given the right access to the increasing number of applications and systems across your organization to prevent security and compliance risks. However, as per Gartner, more than 95% of the infrastructure-as-a-service accounts held by employees use less than 3% of the privileged entitlements assigned to them. Imagine a privileged employee account holding access to your cloud system containing sensitive intellectual property data, but in reality, doesn’t require it. Attackers can exploit these overprivileged accounts to steal your sensitive data or launch cyberattacks. This is where access certification becomes crucial. It assists you in ensuring enterprise security and compliance by periodically inspecting and validating user privileges. However, manually reviewing user access rights is typically complex, costly, and error-prone. This is where a modern, converged, and compliant IAM solution like AccessFlow can help.


Built on the robust ServiceNow platform, AccessFlow is designed to simplify and streamline the access certification process, thanks to its automated workflows and centralized management.  It provides a one-stop platform to manage user access, certify permissions, and fix access vulnerabilities quickly, elevating your overall enterprise security, compliance, user experience, and efficiency. Let’s dive deep into the basics of access certification.


What is Access Certification and Why It’s Important?  

Access certification is a structured and recurring review process to confirm that the access permissions held by the enterprise users are legitimate and necessary to perform their daily job tasks or responsibilities. Regular assessment of user permissions helps minimize the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and insider threats, ultimately elevating your overall enterprise security and compliance posture. The systematic review and validation of user entitlements or permissions by various stakeholders, such as application owners, IT admins, and compliance officers, helps you promptly detect and fix access-related vulnerabilities across your organization.   


Let’s look at some of the key reasons why organizations should conduct access certification campaigns frequently:   


  • Streamlines access management: Regularly reviewing the user permissions helps you identify and fix access vulnerabilities, such as excessive privileges and unauthorized access, to avoid any security and compliance risks. This allows for deeper insights into user roles, permissions, and access activities, further simplifying your access management and identity governance operations.   
  • Improves audit and compliance posture: Regularly assessing the user privileges and maintaining a detailed record of access activities not only assists you in maintaining an audit-ready environment but also demonstrates compliance with stringent data safety regulations. Such detailed reports of certification campaigns can be further used as proof of compliance and control during internal or external audits to gain the trust and confidence of auditors and regulatory bodies.   
  • Prevents security risks and insider threats: By regularly reviewing the user permissions, you can prevent the risk of information misuse, data theft, and unauthorized access by malicious internal users. Access certification also acts as a key internal control to prevent the threat of privilege creep or dormant accounts during employee transfers or departures. For instance, with timely access certification, you can quickly identify and revoke the excess privileges held by an employee when he switches departments in your organization.  
  • Enhances operational efficiency: The access certification process elevates your IT productivity by ensuring the access permissions assigned to enterprise users coincide with their job roles or duties. Further, by automating the certification process using IAM tools, you can liberate IT teams from the administrative hassle of reviewing access rights to focus on strategic initiatives that drive your business growth and profitability. 


How to Perform Enterprise Access Certification? 
  • Determine the certification campaign users and permissions: The access recertification process kicks off when you pinpoint the access rights that need validation. Ideally, it requires you to put together a detailed list of user accounts, permissions, and applications for your certification campaign. By getting a good grasp of the access landscape, you’ll be in a solid position to assess and confirm the appropriateness of user privileges.
  • Notify relevant certification campaign stakeholders: Post identification of access rights requiring a review – notify the access certifiers, typically department managers or application owners, and end-users who will be involved in the certification process. They should be informed in advance about their responsibilities to avoid errors. Training and awareness programs should also be organized to explain the importance of access certification to such employees.
  • Setup the certification campaign timeframe: Before initiating the access certification, it is critical to define your campaign goals and procedures. This includes determining your certification campaign goals, owners, frequency, total users involved, and so on. With clearly defined procedures and metrics in place, it becomes easier to track the overall certification effort and risks.
  • Run the certification campaign and leverage automation: During the certification phase, the assigned reviewers track the concerned user’s access rights to determine whether they are necessary to support their current job roles or responsibilities. Reviewers assess factors such as changes in employee roles, transfers, or terminations to make apt decisions while approving or revoking user access. If critical access-related risks are found, reviewers forward them to relevant teams, such as IT security or compliance groups, for further remediation. You can also utilize modern IAM solutions for a speedy and accurate access certification process. These tools provide a centralized and automated process for validating user permissions.
  • Track results and optimize user access: After certification is done, set up a fixed timeframe for reporting the results of the campaign. This helps you ensure that certification campaign results are communicated and analyzed on time to avoid any security challenges. Documentation of the entire certification process, such as review outcomes and remediation actions taken, is equally vital to ensure audit readiness. Further, utilize modern IAM tools to generate accurate reports around your access certification efforts. 


Automate Your Access Certification Process with AccessFlow 

In conclusion, access certification provides an effective pathway for organizations to prevent unauthorized access, security threats, and compliance risks. Modern Identity and Access Management solutions like AccessFlow can simplify and streamline the entire certification process. Being a SOC 1 Type 2 compliant solution, AccessFlow takes the complexity and manual hassle out of the access certification by automating and centralizing the entire process while maintaining robust security and compliance standards. With automated workflows, advanced analytics, and advanced filtering options like role-wise and application-wise reviews, AccessFlow enhances the overall certification speed, accuracy, and effectiveness. It also reduces your IT workload to focus on business growth and innovation by automating the certification process. 


To know more about AccessFlow and how it can revolutionize your access certification and governance processes, reach out to us at

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