A Guide to User Access Reviews

A user access review is a process of regularly reviewing the access rights of all users in an organization to ensure that they have only the access they need to perform their job duties.

They are crucial for maintaining security and compliance, and they should be an integral part of an organization’s cybersecurity and data protection strategy. Regularly reviewing and adjusting user access permissions can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches. Below, we detail a step by step guide to conducting a User Access Review for your organization. 

Understanding User Access Reviews

User Access Reviews, also known as Access Recertification or User Entitlement Reviews, are systematic processes that assess and validate the access permissions granted to individuals within an organization’s digital ecosystem. These reviews aim to ensure that users have appropriate and necessary access to systems, applications, and data while minimizing the risk of unauthorized access. Lack of access audits leads to incidents similar to the Cash App Investing breach carried out by an ex-employee. The perpetrator accessed and downloaded internal Cash App reports with information on over 8 million current and former application users. 

Why have regular User Access Reviews?

  • Reduce the risk of data breaches. When users have more access than they need, it increases the risk that they could accidentally or maliciously expose sensitive data.
  • To comply with regulations. Many industry regulations require organizations to conduct regular user access reviews.
  • To improve security posture. By regularly reviewing user access, organizations can identify and address potential security risks before they cause a problem.
  • A user access review is a process of regularly reviewing the access rights of all users in an organization to ensure that they have only the access they need to perform their job duties. This is an important part of any information security program, as it helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems.

How to conduct a user access review

The specific steps involved in a user access review will vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization, but the general process is as follows:

1.Identify the users and systems to be reviewed. 

This may include all users, or it may be limited to certain groups of users or systems, such as those with access to sensitive data or systems. They may be administrative access, Global Administrators, as well as invited guests or partners that haven’t been removed after being assigned to do an administrative task. You can recertify the role assignment users

Gather information about the users’ current access rights. This can be done by reviewing system logs, access control lists, and other relevant data.

2. Assess business critical data access.

 For certain resources, such as business critical applications, it might be required as part of compliance processes to ask people to regularly reconfirm and give a justification on why they need continued access. Compare the users’ current access rights to their job duties. This can be done by reviewing job descriptions, interviewing the users’ managers, and other methods.

3. Make recommendations for changes to the users’ access rights. This may involve removing unnecessary access, granting additional access, or disabling accounts.

4. Implement the recommended changes.

5. Maintain a policy’s exception list.  In an ideal world, all users would follow the access policies to secure access to your organization’s resources. However, sometimes there are business cases that require you to make exceptions. As the IT admin, you can manage this task, avoid oversight of policy exceptions, and provide auditors with proof that these exceptions are reviewed regularly.

6. Review the results of the review and make adjustments as needed.


User Access Reviews are indispensable components of modern cybersecurity and compliance strategies. By regularly evaluating and adjusting user access permissions, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and compliance violations. While UARs may present challenges, the benefits in terms of enhanced security, compliance, cost savings, and operational efficiency far outweigh these challenges. As technology continues to evolve, organizations must continue to adapt and prioritize access management to safeguard their digital assets and maintain the trust of their stakeholders.

Monitoring Remote Sessions

With more employees working from home, companies are seeking ways of monitoring remote sessions. One compelling case can be made for recording remote sessions for later playback and review. Employers are concerned that in the event of a security breach, they won’t be able to see what was happening on users’ desktops when the breach occurred. Another reason for recording remote sessions is to maintain compliance, as required for medical and financial institutions or auditing for business protocols, etc.

TSFactory’s RecordTS v7 will record Windows remote sessions reliably and securely for RDS, Citrix and VMware systems. Scalable from small offices with one server to enterprise networks with tens of thousands of desktops and servers, RecordTS integrates seamlessly with the native environment.

Click here to learn more about secure remote session recording.