User Access Review

What is user access review?

User access review is a process where privileged users, such as system administrators, are periodically asked to review and confirm that each user has the correct access rights for their job. The purpose of this review is to help ensure that users have appropriate access privileges and that any changes in employees’ roles or responsibilities are reflected in their permissions.

What is the user access review checklist?

A user access review checklist is a list of items used to ensure that users have the proper level of access to systems, applications, and data. It can include questions about user roles and responsibilities, authentication requirements, authorization levels, password strength requirements, and other related topics. The goal is to make sure that only authorized personnel are able to access sensitive data or resources.

Here are a few examples of what is included in the user access review checklist:

  1. User name 
  2. Department/group
  3. Date of last access review
  4. Access level(s)
  5. Systems and applications accessed
  6. Data access rights (view, edit, etc.)
  7. Hardware used (devices and network ports) 
  8. Is the user still active?  
  9. Has the user undergone security awareness training?  
  10. Are there any unusual or suspicious activity detected?  
  11. Has the user’s access level changed since last review?  
  12. Are all appropriate security controls in place?  
  13. Is there a risk of data loss or breach of security policies? 
  14. Are any changes to access rights needed based on current role and responsibilities? 
  15. Are any access revocations or suspensions needed? 
  16. Is the user following appropriate password procedures? 
  17. Has the user signed Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)?  
  18. Does the user require additional training or guidance? 
  19. Is the user aware of and following appropriate security policies? 
  20. Are there any other issues or concerns to be addressed?

User access review template

This access review template is designed to help ensure that all users of a system have the appropriate access rights and privileges. It should be used to review user accounts on an ongoing basis, as well as when changes are made or new users are added. 

Review Date: _____________ 

User Name: ______________  

Access Level: ____________  

1. Access rights and privileges

 This section should list all the access rights and privileges associated with this user’s account. Include both active and inactive permissions if applicable. Ensure that each permission is necessary for the user’s job duties, relevant to their current role, and not excessive in any way.

2. User activity 

Review recent activity for the user’s account. Are there any suspicious activities or signs of malicious behavior? Is the user accessing resources that are outside their job duties or not necessary for their role?

3. Security protocols 

Review the security protocols associated with this user’s account. Is multi-factor authentication enabled? Have passwords been changed regularly and stored securely? Are appropriate measures taken to prevent unauthorized access to confidential data? 

4. Data access and sharing 

List all areas of data access and sharing for this user’s account. Ensure that each permission is necessary for the job role, relevant to current tasks, and compliant with company policies. Double check that no sensitive information is being shared without approval from an authorized individual. 

5. Compliance 

Verify that the user’s account is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Are any data privacy policies being violated? Have there been any violations of company policy or security protocols? 

What is an access review process?

An access review process is a systematic evaluation of user access to systems, applications, data, and other resources. It involves assessing the need for users to have certain levels of access in order to perform their job duties. The goal is to ensure that only those with the appropriate level of authorization are granted access and that no unauthorized individuals gain entry. Access reviews can be conducted on an ongoing basis or as part of regular audits.

The access review process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Identifying user accounts and permissions that require review.
  2. Assessing the appropriateness of each user’s access rights, privileges, and roles based on job requirements or other criteria. 
  3. Document any changes to existing access rights, privileges, or roles for users whose jobs have changed since their last review. 
  4. Determining whether additional training is needed for users who have been granted new system-level privileges or elevated security clearance levels in order to understand their responsibilities related to those privileged functions and data assets they are now able to access as part of their job duties. 
  5. Establishing a schedule for periodic reviews of user-profiles and access rights. 
  6. Ensuring that any changes to user access are properly documented and tracked in the organization’s audit log or other system of record. 
  7. Implementing an automated process for performing periodic reviews of user accounts and privileges as part of the overall security strategy, if appropriate. 
  8. Making sure that all users with privileged access understand their responsibilities related to protecting sensitive information and systems from unauthorized use or disclosure (e.g., by adhering to data handling policies).


User access review best practices

  • Establish a user access review process and schedule: Create a formal system for reviewing user access rights on an ongoing basis, such as monthly or quarterly reviews.
  • Know who has access to what: Document all users and their respective roles/access levels within the business. This should include both active and inactive accounts, including contractors, vendors, etc.
  • Utilize role-based authorization: Implement role-based authorization so that each user only has the minimum level of access necessary to do their job functions effectively and efficiently; this reduces risk by limiting potential damage from malicious actors or internal errors made by employees with too much control over the system(s). 
  • Use automated tools to detect suspicious behavior: Utilize automated tools to detect anomalous user activity, such as unexpected logins or access to sensitive data.
  • Assign an owner for each system/application: Ensure that there is a single point of contact responsible for monitoring and managing the security of each system or application within the organization. This individual should be familiar with all users and their respective roles/access levels in order to properly review user access rights on an ongoing basis. 
  • Regularly audit accounts and access privileges: Periodically audit accounts and access privileges to ensure that only those who are authorized have access to systems and applications, as well as ensuring appropriate levels of privilege are maintained at all times. 
  • Monitor changes in user access: Monitor changes in user access and be sure to document any changes made. This will help ensure that only authorized users have the proper level of access and that no unauthorized changes were made.
  • Educate employees on security policies: Make sure all employees are aware of your organization’s security policies and explain why it is important for them to follow these guidelines.