Complete guide to data access governance

Data Access Governance
Data Access Governance

Complete Guide to Data Access Governance

Every company knows the challenges of data access governance: too much data from too many sources, an unprecedented number of cyberattacks, and an increasing number of complex global privacy regulations. Managing user data access is more difficult than ever and won't get any easier. Companies that have been slow to implement data access governance controls will fall even further behind if they don't respond decisively. 

Data is the core of your business, so keeping it secure is vital. You must be aware of every file and repository containing sensitive or business-critical data.

What is data access governance?

Data access governance refers to managing access to your organization's data assets and the processes, policies, and controls to ensure data quality, integrity, availability, and security. It involves defining the roles, responsibilities, and processes related to data management, including data collection, storage, usage, access, and disposal.

Data access governance is crucial for several reasons, including:

  • Data quality and reliability: By implementing data access governance practices, you can establish standards and rules for data collection, storage, and usage. This helps ensure data accuracy, completeness, consistency, and reliability, essential for making informed decisions and driving business operations.

  • Compliance and regulatory requirements: Data access governance helps you comply with various legal and regulatory frameworks related to data privacy, security, and industry-specific regulations. It ensures that data handling practices align with applicable laws, mitigating the risk of fines, penalties, and reputational damage.

  • Risk management: Effective data access governance helps identify and mitigate risks associated with data, such as data breaches, unauthorized access, data loss, or data misuse. It establishes protocols for data protection, access controls, and data handling procedures, reducing the likelihood of security incidents and safeguarding sensitive information.

  • Data transparency and accountability: Data access governance promotes transparency and accountability by establishing clear ownership, accountability, and decision-making processes for data. It ensures that individuals and teams understand their roles and responsibilities regarding data management and fosters a culture of data stewardship across your organization.

  • Data integration and interoperability: With proper data access governance practices, you can ensure data consistency, standardization, and compatibility across different systems, applications, and databases. This enables efficient data integration, interoperability, and collaboration between various departments and systems within your organization.

  • Data-driven decision-making: Data access governance provides a foundation for effective data analysis and data-driven decision-making. When data is governed properly, decision-makers can trust the data they are working with, leading to more accurate insights, better strategic planning, and improved business outcomes.

Overall, data access governance is essential for your organization to maximize the value of your data, mitigate risks, ensure compliance, and foster a data-driven culture that supports your business’ growth and innovation.

Implementing data access governance

Implementing data access governance involves a systematic and structured approach to managing and protecting data assets within your organization. Here are some steps you can follow to implement data access governance:

  • Define the objectives: Clearly define the objectives of your data access governance initiative. Identify why data access governance is important for your organization and what you aim to achieve through its implementation.

  • Establish a data access governance team: Form a cross-functional team with representatives from different departments, such as IT, legal, compliance, data management, and business units. This team will be responsible for driving your data access governance initiative.

  • Define roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of team members. Assign a data access governance leader or manager to oversee implementing and enforcing your data access governance policies.

  • Assess current data landscape: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your organization's existing data landscape. Identify the data assets, data sources, data flows, data systems, and data processes within your organization.

  • Define data access governance framework: Develop a framework outlining your principles, policies, and data management procedures. This framework should include data quality standards, data classification, data ownership, data stewardship, data access controls, data privacy, and data security measures.

  • Develop data access governance policies: Create policies that align with your framework. These policies should address data management practices, data handling guidelines, data retention, data sharing, data integration, data protection, and compliance with relevant regulations.

  • Establish data access governance processes: Define the processes and workflows for implementing data access governance. This includes processes for data capture, data cleansing, data validation, data storage, data access, data usage, and data lifecycle management.

  • Implement data stewardship: Assign data stewards responsible for ensuring data quality, integrity, and compliance. Data stewards will enforce your data access governance policies, resolve data issues, and promote data access governance best practices within their respective areas.

  • Communicate and train: Communicate the importance of data access governance to all stakeholders within your organization. Provide training sessions and workshops to educate employees about data access governance principles, policies, and processes. Encourage a culture of data access governance and foster awareness about data responsibilities across your organization.

  • Monitor and enforce: Regularly monitor and assess the implementation of data access governance. Establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of your data access governance processes. Enforce compliance with data access governance policies and address any non-compliance issues promptly.

  • Continuous improvement: Data access governance is an ongoing process. Continuously review and improve your data access governance framework, policies, and processes based on feedback, evolving business needs, technological advancements, and regulatory changes.

Remember that implementing data access governance is a complex undertaking that requires a strategic approach, collaboration across departments, and a commitment to ensuring the accuracy, security, and privacy of data assets within your organization.

What to look for in a data access governance solution

While no single data governance strategy will work for every business, cloud-based access governance is a scalable solution that will help you adapt to future needs while being more cost-effective. Your organization can implement an access governance solution to achieve a variety of outcomes, including:

  • Create and enforce segregation of duties for cloud and on-prem applications

  • Design and manage role assignments for business-specific requirements and services

  • Integrate with on-premises user directories

  • Report on access composition and supervision for compliance and policy adherence

  • Conduct user access reviews, monitor users to ensure the appropriate use of applications, and detect signs of compromised accounts or other malicious behaviors regarding access patterns

Moving your data access governance infrastructure to the cloud doesn't have to be intimidating. An effective solution should be policy-based with fine-grained capabilities to provide visibility across all applications and continuously enforce compliance. Automating controls such as the segregation of duties will help streamline the process, decrease errors, and put less strain on your IT department.

Cloud-based data access governance solutions don't require consultants or extensive data access governance knowledge, and they don't require complex architecture or hardware to maintain, making them a good option even if your organization is small. An effective solution offers the ability to know who has access to your data, what they do once they gain access, and on what data set. A solution should provide a complete audit trail and continuous monitoring of key controls and processes. And the solution provider you select needs a deep understanding of access controls to ensure full protection of your data on-premise and in the cloud. 

Traditional access governance solutions can't see what's going on at the granular level needed for true visibility into data access. Continuous data access control (human and non-human) is necessary to track data access and ensure minimum access levels required to perform job functions. Your organization stores immense amounts of sensitive data that must be protected and safeguarded from internal and external threats. Knowing who is accessing data and what they do with it is challenging without granular visibility into data access. Continuous controls can help you identify who has access and how it is used.

The complexity of the cloud can be daunting, but with the right solutions in place, the cloud can also be the accelerator your business needs for success. Cloud security starts with automating access controls – ensuring users only have the access they need and that the access is periodically reviewed.

Want to learn how SafePaaS can help you govern access to data?