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Technophobe’s Guide to: User Access Rights and Permissions

Your business has certain responsibilities to protect data – user rights management is one part of the solution.

Your firm has certain obligations under the Data Protection Act and other industry-specific regulation, governing how customer data is used. Although many firms are aware of external threats, staff can also cause problems, deliberately or accidentally.

One way to prevent problems is through the use of access rights and hosted IT services.

What are access rights?

At the most basic level ‘access rights’ define the data accessible by an individual user. “Permissions” are defined that permit or block access to certain files or applications so that staff cannot access data which is not part of their role. User rights management defines how these permissions are configured.

Access rights also provide some protection against external threats – without a username and password, gaining access to sensitive data is more difficult.

An introduction to File and Share Permissions in Windows

The importance of user rights management

User rights management is essential to your business to avoid:

  • Data Protection Act breaches that expose or mishandle personal data (punishable by fines of up to £500,000).
  • Employees accessing data to which they are not entitled – such as payroll.
  • Theft of sensitive information for sale to competitors.

Implementing user rights management

User rights management is often built into the computer systems already in place at your firm. However it may be:

  • Misconfigured
  • Mismanaged
  • Or simply missing

If everyone in your firm can access everything, your user rights management is inactive or insufficient.

Configuring user rights management is an expert task, but the general steps required to implement it are:

  • Assess the data you currently have saved on your company network.
  • Decide which staff require access to each dataset.
  • Apply permissions that support those definitions.
  • Adjust permissions as new staff join, or roles and responsibilities change.

How hosted IT services ease the pain

Hosted IT services provide a way to ease user rights management because much of the responsibility for managing and protecting data is passed on to the provider, including setting up and managing your users’ permissions.

Takeaway

  • Your business has a responsibility to protect data.
  • User rights management can help protect data without stopping staff from working.
  • A managed IT services partner allow you to partner with a provider to offset much of the work required to implement user rights management.

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Dr James Huntington Managing Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at IT Farm. His background in Computer Science help lay the foundation for IT Farm to become one of the UK's first Cloud Computing Companies.

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