Access Risks and Their Management in Real-Time

Internal Threats & Awareness

Power without control is no power. This expression has been a piece of advice among people for years and has been circulating from ear to ear. What lessons can we derive from this advice in today’s world of business where competition is at the highest level?

Regardless of the business sector, even if you have limitless resources and the most talented employees, it is critical to manage these resources properly. Operations that have continued smoothly for years could become heavily damaged as a result of employees’ inadvertency, lack of cooperation or malicious acts. The main reason for this damage is the lack of control over employees and processes. Lack of control, or lack of proactive prevention, leaves organizations vulnerable to internal threats. Another factor that plays an important role in the spread of internal threats is the amount of daily data exchange going on. This exchange, which can reach gigantic proportions, can result in the removal of certain values ​​belonging to the organization, whether it is intentional or not, and ultimately causes a loss of value to the organization.

It is possible to take precautions against all these threats and to identify the risks that the organization is vulnerable to. To do so, it is necessary to review which duties the employees in an organization are authorized to do and to prevent uncontrolled power.

Access Risks

While determining the access within an organization, there is an important principle aimed at: Segregation of Duties (SoD). Segregation of duties is a preventative internal control that aims to minimize errors in financial transactions and reporting and also to eliminate cases of fraud. It takes place as a basic principle that at least two people are responsible for any task that is financially significant and could affect the financial reports.

If this principle is adopted, productivity within the organization will increase. Because, thanks to SoD, it is determined which employee is the most suitable person for the task, and from the perspective of the employee, it ensures that the employee fully comprehends his or her own duties. Determining and managing authority risks is critical for ensuring enterprise risk management and is the basic building block in the formation of controlling corporate risks.

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Figure 1: Positioning access risk within the scope of the enterprise risk  

However, the complete elimination of SoD risks is a very challenging goal. The limited resources, especially the workforce, will prevent a perfect SoD implementation. For unavoidable SoD risk violations, the main action to be taken will be the establishment of preventive controls to reduce the

How to Cope With Access Risks?

Recognizing the existing and potential authorization risks in the organization and combining the relevant preventive controls with the processes will be very important steps in the management of the access risks. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Manual controls should be avoided as much as possible, and in preference they should be automated. Otherwise, these controls which take a great deal of effort to determine and implement could be turned into some chore by the employees, be implemented in a rush and eventually prevent risks being reported.

At this point, SAP Access Control offers a traceable and real-time access management approach by making access requests dependent on automatic risk analysis with its Access Request Management solution. When employees request an authorization for themselves or for another user in their team, the risks in a predetermined SoD library are checked and authorizations against the SoD principle are listed.

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Figure 2: Access risk alerts on SAP Access Control
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Figure 3: SAP Access Control Role Management Overview

The more users who exist in the system that can make key changes, the more extensive the oversight must be. For this reason, logging user activity plays a very critical role in the formation of this surveillance. However, these records will only provide a significant result with the presence and continuity of the correct alarms. For this reason, a SoD library, which will make user records meaningful, verifies in which situations access risks exist and what kind of activities are performed under these risks.

Financial Equivalents of Access Risks

Without a doubt, when managing access risks, you need financial insight in order to perform accurate and proactive decision-making. Exception-based monitoring of SoD violations, which means triggering the alarms for the control owners only in the case of violations, increases the automation of controls. In addition, in these cases determining the action to be taken according to the financial value of the risk will prioritize decision-making of managers.

SAP allows access risks to appear as monetary values. Thus, processes continue to run taking into account the risks that seem reasonable. For the remaining risks, SAP provides exception-based monitoring and informs the process owners in the event of actual violations. Consequently, it prevents the real cases from being overlooked between manual checks and saves you from looking for a needle in a haystack. According to the needs of the business, it can ensure that the SoD risks are extracted from the data from different systems. It also provides a complete audit trail by automatically recording and reporting the review and approval processes.


In summary, understanding the concept of access risk is critical to achieving the aims of enterprise risk management. It is necessary to apply the principle of segregation of duties in accordance with the business processes of the company, to identify the processes in which there is a risk, and to adapt preventive controls to these processes. If these processes are combined with the right fulfillment of automation, then the authorization risks and the controls will be supported in real time by financially positive results and an increase in productivity will become inevitable.

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