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How to Manage User Access & Permissions in SaaS Applications

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Access to specific applications and systems is crucial for even the most minor teams and basic structures to keep intruders away from sensitive company data and maintain the security of the systems. A small mistake can disrupt a smoothly running system, resulting in the need to rebuild the entire structure and review all granted access and permissions from scratch. Therefore, it is extremely important to build a flawless and secure system that works safely and efficiently.

In all industries, a secure user access and permission structure is essential. To achieve this, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of user access, roles, and permissions. In this blog, we will delve deeper into these terms and discuss the best practices for creating a robust user access management system while touching on their importance and key functions.

User Management can reduce administrative costs to manage user access, requests, and policies by 80%.

User Management - How it is Structured

User management is the bedrock of a secure and efficient IT environment, representing a core responsibility for system administrators and helpdesk staff. It is pivotal in providing employees with the necessary accounts and permissions, ensuring smooth access to digital resources while safeguarding sensitive data. User management encompasses three key components:

User Access

User access pertains to the mechanisms that control how users interact with system resources. It involves defining who can access what and under what conditions. This ensures that access is restricted to authorized individuals, enhancing security.

User Roles 

User roles are organizational constructs that serve as containers for policies and permissions. These roles typically encompass three primary categories: admin, user, and owner. Each role defines the scope of authority and access rights granted to individuals within an organization.

Permissions

User permissions are an integral part of the broader user management process. They dictate the level of access granted to users concerning specific resources, such as files, applications, networks, or devices. User permissions are closely tied to two fundamental concepts: authentication and authorization

Authentication verifies the identity of a user before granting access, while authorization is the process of determining and bestowing user permissions based on their role and needs.

Importance of User Access Management

User Access Management is pivotal for numerous reasons, each contributing to the overall security, efficiency, collaboration, and compliance within an organization. Here are some key aspects of its significance:

  • Security: Access Management is paramount for maintaining the security and integrity of an organization's resources and sensitive information. By meticulously controlling access to these assets, organizations can significantly reduce the risks of data breaches, ensuring that confidential and sensitive data remains protected from unauthorized access.
  • Operational efficiency: Access management streamlines the management of user accounts and permissions, reducing the burden of manual processes. This not only improves efficiency but also minimizes the risk of errors and inconsistencies that may result from human oversight. As a result, organizations save time and resources while mitigating the potential for data breaches caused by human error.
  • Collaboration: Access management can help organizations facilitate collaboration and information sharing between users, while still maintaining appropriate access controls. By managing user accounts and permissions, organizations can ensure that users can access the resources they need to perform their jobs without compromising security or data privacy.
  • Compliance: Many industries and organizations are subject to regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA or GDPR, that mandate strict access controls and data protection. Access management helps organizations comply with these regulations and avoid legal or financial penalties.

How to Manage User Access & Permissions in SaaS Apps

Step 1 - Set up an RBAC Policy

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is the cornerstone of effective user access management. It identifies which users and groups are authorized to perform specific actions on particular SaaS apps and resources. RBAC simplifies administrative tasks by dynamically assigning, updating, or revoking privileges as needed. This increases operational efficiency, eliminates the need for frequent password changes, and, most importantly, mitigates security risks by preventing unauthorized access and misuse of privileges by both employees and potential intruders.

To set up an RBAC policy on Resmo:

1. Navigate to the “Settings” section on your Resmo account and tap into the “Roles”, and you will see a list of roles in your account. In this section, you can create, examine, and edit roles. 

Creating Role for Role Based Access Policy

2. To access the Policies section, click on the Access option in the left-hand panel. Here, you can view, modify, or create new policies. You will find the name, description, and statements of a role in the policy details. By turning on Advanced Mode, you can manage your statements as JSON.  You can set up statements, which are basically containers for permissions, and define allow or deny statements within the same policy.

Policies on Role Based Access Control

3. You can grant roles to the users linked to the account and update them under the Users section.

Granting Role to User in RBAC

Step 2 - Run Automated Access Reviews & Schedule Access Audits

Ensuring user activities are monitored proactively is a crucial aspect of User Access Management in SaaS applications. It offers valuable insights into the specific resources users access and when, enabling organizations to detect and respond to suspicious patterns before they escalate. Monitoring is a preventive measure to avoid any unauthorized or potentially harmful activities within the system.

You can easily create Access Review audits in just a few clicks by selecting the SaaS application you need to review and deciding on the frequency of the review. By doing so, you can detect shadow users and directly revoke their access. It is also possible to set review due dates to keep track of your access reviews and perform the next campaigns on time. You can keep your review audits continuous by selecting review periods such as monthly, quarterly, and annually.

User Access Reviews in SaaS User Management

Step 3 - Keep Track with Activity Logs

Have a consolidated audit log of all user actions, including admins, offering valuable insights for audits and investigations. Detect any abnormal user behavior and catch abnormal patterns to respond promptly to any potential security incidents. 

Step 4 - Missed Something? Resmo Alerts

Mitigate SaaS security risks promptly by leveraging near real-time alerting capabilities. These alerts provide instant notifications about potential vulnerabilities via various tools like Slack, Opsgenie, email, and webhook, allowing your team to act swiftly and fix issues.

Leverage the power of ChatOps to enable faster remediation of issues by your users. With these platforms, employees receive personalized alerts, allowing them to take immediate action on identified problems. Improve response times and overall operational efficiency.

  • Slack 
  • Microsoft Teams

Step 5 - Automate SaaS Offboarding for the Departing Employees

Automation streamlines offboarding processes, reducing the administrative burden and increasing operational efficiency. Approval workflows can be automated to grant specific permissions, ensuring a smoother and more accountable user management process.Resmo enables safe deprovisioning processes to prevent any oversights.

  1. Automate SaaS Offboarding for Departing Employees: Embrace automation to enhance SaaS offboarding and bolster security as employees depart.
  2. Automate Access Revocation: Utilize automation to identify departing employees and promptly revoke their access to SaaS applications. This can occur automatically or allow for manual initiation when required.
  3. Cover All SaaS Applications: Ensure comprehensive access revocation across all SaaS applications, even those not directly tied to employee email addresses (e.g., GitHub or Bitbucket repositories). Leave no access unattended to mitigate security risks.
  4. Asset Visibility and Cleanup: Implement a process that provides complete visibility into every asset associated with an employee. Identify remnants such as third-party apps installed by the user or API keys linked to critical systems. These remnants should be revoked upon an employee's departure, eliminating potential security vulnerabilities and enhancing SaaS environment security.
  5. User Deprovisioning (Upcoming): This feature systematically revokes access rights for departing employees across SaaS applications. User deprovisioning is an effective measure for mitigating potential security vulnerabilities and maintaining robust access control.

Interested? Sign up today and experience how Resmo can simplify User Access Management in complex SaaS environments.

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