What is an access review?
January 4, 2023

What is an access review?

An access review describes the process of monitoring the rights and privileges of everyone who can interact with data and applications. This includes management of personnel, employees, vendors, service providers, and other third parties that your organization has been involved with.

Also known as entitlement review, account attestation, or account recertification, access reviews are essential to the management, monitoring, and auditing of user account lifecycles. Access reviews ensure that the access rights to an organization's information system (granted to a user) are authorized and appropriate for that user's role and functions.

This review applies to all existing access rights to a company's data, applications, and infrastructure. The reviews are intended to pinpoint:

  • Which access rights are authorized and approved
  • What level of access each user has
  • Who has access to what within the organization

How important are access reviews?

Access reviews are vital in order to avoid inappropriate entry to your data systems. Over 80% of breaches involve a human element, as people are the largest risk within an organization. The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that the top cause of breaches is “use of stolen credentials.” Access reviews discover and alert your organization to things like malicious insiders, departed employees, and external cyberthreats.

In addition to protecting an organization's data and IT assets, a user access review is an essential prerequisite for the thorough implementation of security and compliance frameworks.

Access reviews are a mandatory control mechanism used by companies in industries and verticals subject to the following standards: HIPAA, CRBF, Solvency, CMMC, SOC 1 and 2, SOX,  ISAE 3402, ISO 27002, and ISO 27001, among others. It also helps companies adhere to security best practices and risk management by facilitating the separation of duties, the principle of need-to-know, and the principle of least privilege.

Get a better understanding of access review threats, pain points, and best practices in this infographic:

Access review infographic

Automate access reviews

Access reviews can be manual, slow, and costly. The process of an access review can cause an organization audit issues, increased labor cost, a weak security infrastructure, and even delayed sales deals.

Automating access reviews solves a lot of the existing pain points in the review process. Vanta’s Access Review is an automated, integrated solution that helps users avoid the manual process of using spreadsheets and the inefficient communication between auditors and stakeholders. With automation, save time with a one-hub view, save costs by not overspending on software licensing, and improve sales functions with enhanced security updates and continuous monitoring.

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Access Review Stage Content / Functionality
Across all stages
  • Easily create and save a new access review at a point in time
  • View detailed audit evidence of historical access reviews
Setup access review procedures
  • Define a global access review procedure that stakeholders can follow, ensuring consistency and mitigation of human error in reviews
  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
  • Integrate systems using dozens of pre-built integrations, or “connectors”. System account and HRIS data is pulled into Vanta.
  • Upcoming integrations include Zoom and Intercom (account access), and Personio (HRIS)
  • Upload access files from non-integrated systems
  • View and select systems in-scope for the review
Review, approve, and deny user access
  • Select the appropriate systems reviewer and due date
  • Get automatic notifications and reminders to systems reviewer of deadlines
  • Automatic flagging of “risky” employee accounts that have been terminated or switched departments
  • Intuitive interface to see all accounts with access, account accept/deny buttons, and notes section
  • Track progress of individual systems access reviews and see accounts that need to be removed or have access modified
  • Bulk sort, filter, and alter accounts based on account roles and employee title
Assign remediation tasks to system owners
  • Built-in remediation workflow for reviewers to request access changes and for admin to view and manage requests
  • Optional task tracker integration to create tickets for any access changes and provide visibility to the status of tickets and remediation
Verify changes to access
  • Focused view of accounts flagged for access changes for easy tracking and management
  • Automated evidence of remediation completion displayed for integrated systems
  • Manual evidence of remediation can be uploaded for non-integrated systems
Report and re-evaluate results
  • Auditor can log into Vanta to see history of all completed access reviews
  • Internals can see status of reviews in progress and also historical review detail

PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

Answer a few short questions and we’ll help identify your compliance level.


Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?


Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level

The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:


A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

Get PCI DSS certified


A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

Learn more about eCommerce PCI

for service providers

A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.

Use our PCI checklist

Level 1 for service providers

A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

Automate your ROC and AOC

Download this checklist for easy reference


Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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