Visibility with Central Policy Management of Access Controls – Part 1

Gal Helemski
May 22, 2024

This blog is part of a 4-part blog series on the values of centralizing authorization policies

The explosion of identities and data in today’s digital landscape has become a challenge for enterprises to maintain robust security protocols and efficient operations. Visibility is not just a beneficial feature; it is a cornerstone of effective security. Centralized policy management offers a required level of visibility, providing comprehensive oversight and control across the enterprise. This blog (part of a four-part blog series on the values of centralized policy management) explores why visibility is crucial and how it enhances security.

The Importance of Visibility

Improving Security for Access to Data

Visibility in policy management is about knowing who has access to what, under what conditions, and at what time. Having this information readily available is fundamental for maintaining a secure environment. Without comprehensive visibility, security gaps can remain hidden, leaving the organization vulnerable to security breaches. 

For example, in a large global company, employees across various departments need access to different types of data. Without centralized visibility, it’s challenging to monitor and control who has access to sensitive financial data versus general operational data, leading to a potential data leak.

Proactive Compliance and Governance

Enhanced visibility ensures that enterprises can comply with existing regulations and manage their compliance proactively. Centralized policy management systems facilitate regular audits, reporting, and the ability to react quickly to potential deviations.

For example, a healthcare provider must comply with HIPAA regulations. By implementing centralized policy management, the provider can track what departments, roles, and individuals have access to patient records. This ensures compliance and identifies any unauthorized access immediately.


Effective Risk Management

Visibility also allows security teams to identify gaps before they become critical issues. Authorization policies should align with the Zero Trust Principle of Least Privilege. By monitoring and analyzing access requests and patterns, organizations can resolve policy gaps effectively, ensuring that access to data is authorized only for those intended. 

For example, a retailer must have visibility of access to pricing data that’s been shared with its distribution and reseller partners. However, the lines of business should only be able to see pricing data relevant to their line of business. By providing guardrails around access to the pricing, inventory, and sales data, the retailer can proactively prevent a data breach.

How Centralized Policy Management Brings Visibility

Policy Discovery

As organizations increasingly rely on SaaS applications, centralized policy management provides clear visibility into who is accessing these applications and what data they are interacting with. This ensures that every action is tracked and audited. The ability to discover existing authorization policies across various systems is crucial for maintaining an up-to-date security posture. Automated policy discovery helps identify all active policies, highlighting redundancies, conflicting policies, and areas for improvement in authorization coverage. Centralized policy management systems provide the ability to look at current authorization controls from various platforms, such as Snowflake, PowerBI, and Zscaler, all from within a single pane. This enables security architects to have a deeper understanding of who has access to critical resources.

Simple and Easy to Understand Policies

Policies presented in plain language are easier to understand and manage than coded policies. This simplification allows both technical and non-technical stakeholders to understand and engage with security policies, facilitating better compliance and governance, as well as aligning with business initatives.

Visualization and Policy Mapping

Advanced visualization tools map out the relationships between policies and their impact on system security. These tools help in identifying potential security gaps and understanding the complex dynamics of policy enforcement across the enterprise.

Policy Decisioning

Centralized policy management systems can demonstrate the decisions being made by policies across various layers. This feature is invaluable for audits and for educating stakeholders about the effectiveness of security measures.

Simulation and Testing Environments

Technologies that simulate various access scenarios enable you to test the impact of policy changes before actual implementation. This testing ensures that new policies do not inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities to live environments. In addition, centralized policy management allows for the rapid implementation of policy changes. This agility is essential in quickly responding to emerging threats and evolving business needs. 

Key Takeaway

Visibility in centralized policy management is indispensable for improving enterprise security. By gaining a comprehensive view of all access and policy enforcement across the enterprise, centralized policies not only help secure access to data it also enhance operational efficiency and compliance. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the role of centralized policy management in enhancing visibility will only grow more critical, proving essential in the ongoing effort to secure organizational assets and data and realize a Zero Trust architecture. 
To learn more about how PlainID can help bring visibility to your enterprise, reach out for a demo.

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