“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is an aphorism that not only applies to medical science but also cybersecurity. Access control is the first step of a robust cybersecurity strategy but is often neglected in favor of other tools or software.
Understanding what access control is and why it’s crucial may help your organization better fend off cybersecurity attacks and reduce your risk of a serious incident.
What is Access Control?
Virtual access control is a set of security measures that help determine who can use a company’s system, including data and resources, and under which conditions they are granted. It also governs the rules around what data and systems your internal non-human resources can access or modify. Once a user or system is authenticated according to their credentials, they are allowed “actions.” These can be typical day-to-day work tasks, such as editing files or working within a cloud-based tool, or it can be data transference between devices located in the same building or a world apart.
Similarly, physical access control is a means of controlling who can enter a building or location, and when. This is achieved with authentication methods such as an ID card or biometric identification. It can be as sophisticated as using RFID cards, fingerprints, or smartphones to verify entry, or rely on less sophisticated methods such as guards or simple locked doors. At its most basic, access control follows the same principle for both cybersecurity and physical security.
Why is Access Control Important?
Access control is the first line of defense for an organization. With weak authentication, anyone who identifies themselves as someone they’re not can gain fraudulent access. Highly accurate user authentication is critical to ensure that no bad actors can sneak into your system.
Weak authorization protocols can lead to security holes. Without rigid control policies, organizations risk data leaks from internal and external sources. Authorization protocols also help limit the spread of viruses or ransomware when it’s potentially being transmitted between devices: by limiting what authority a given device or user has to change system settings or programs, thereby limiting potential damage.
Auditing or accountability is the final, crucial step that is often overlooked. While scrutinizing your staff’s login activities on a weekly basis is considered overkill, it’s beneficial to regularly review who has access to what, and what permissions they’ve been granted to modify those items. Regular auditing can uncover unusual activity that can indicate a virus or compromised account, as well as any unused accounts that should be deactivated.
Benefits of Access Control to an Organization
In 2020, the access control market was valued at $7.65 billion and predicted to reach $11.7 billion by 2026. It has a CAGR of 7.38% over the forecast period of 2021 to 2026. Perhaps, companies are finally placing an appropriate value on access control’s role in their organization’s operations.
- Smoother and more secure employee access
With an effective access control system in place, authorization of employees is much smoother, granting them secure access to company data or systems needed for their job even from various sites. This not only improves mobility but also provides multiple access permissions through a single configured ID badge.
- Improved sentry-based cyber protection
Essentially, it allows control over who gets in and has access to specific data, while mitigating the risk of potential threats that you may not be aware of. An effective access control system includes features such as notifications of unusual download or upload of data and other actions that may be anomalous.
- Easier employee onboarding and turnover
It can be difficult for organizations to keep an updated list of employees who have access to specific areas and which of them possess one or multiple physical keys. If an employee joins or leaves the company with a digital access control system in place, authorized personnel can perform simple actions to grant authorization for frictionless onboarding, remove authorization, configure access restrictions, or even replace a lost ID badge.
- Global scalability
Most access control solutions in the current industry are SaaS-based and have a back office accessible through a web browser. Organizations can quickly access and improve the scale of their access control system from a few local sites to global scalability.
The majority of access control systems allow the integration of third-party applications and solutions, some of which can be used to lower energy and operational costs. The company can save on locks and security personnel while integrating lighting, heating, and cooling systems to work only when authorized employees are in the area.
Prevention is Key
Access control can be regarded as a necessary tool in securing today’s complex IT environments. It should be regularly updated and leverage the most sophisticated technology and processes to keep your employees, business information, and stakeholders safer from cyberattacks.
Indeed, having access control should be part of an effective cybersecurity strategy. At Q5id, we offer reliable identity and access management solutions to increase your company’s security. Contact us to learn how we can help you achieve this.