3 Ways User Access Review Helps Comply With PCI DSS

Ritish Reddy

6th November, 2023


Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, commonly referred to as PCI DSS, is a data security framework. Organizations need to comply with this regulation to protect credit, debit, and cash card transactions. This helps prevent the misuse of cardholders' personal data. 

But, it's a complex task to comply with PCI DSS, as organizations need to ensure that they meet certain stringent security requirements. However, by conducting a user access review, your IT team can ensure that the PCI DSS requirements are met effectively. In this article, we’ll discuss ways how user access review helps comply with this regulation.

Why is it crucial to comply with PCI DSS? First and foremost, to safeguard customer data. For instance, the company's procurement teams (customers) procure SaaS apps and make online transactions using the company's card; they entrust sensitive credit card information to e-commerce platforms. 

So, failing to protect this data leaves it vulnerable to potential breaches, ultimately risking the misuse of customers' financial details. The consequences of such breaches can be very severe, including both financial losses and damage to the organization's reputation.

Not only that, but when such breaches occur, they disrupt the flow of operations, and your IT support teams have to put extra effort into identifying the root causes of the breach. So, by complying with PCI DSS, your IT team can mitigate these disruptions by strengthening data security.

Another reason why your IT team must also adhere to PCI DSS is to avoid legal and financial consequences. Being non-compliant with PCI DSS can expose organizations to severe penalties. For example, if an organization fails to secure its cardholder data environment, it can face fines, legal action, and significant financial penalties. Also, this can be financially devastating for a small business in particular. 

PCI DSS is not merely a security standard but a necessity in today's digital business landscape, safeguarding customer data, preserving reputation, and protecting against the devastating legal and financial penalties of non-compliance.

But what needs to be done to meet PCI DSS? To adhere to PCI DSS, organizations need to meet the security regulatory requirements set by PCI DSS, which are:

  • Every 6 months, user accounts and related access privileges (including vendor accounts/third-party) must be reviewed to ensure access remains appropriate.

  • Implementing the least privilege principle is necessary to ensure that users are granted the minimum privileges required to access apps and systems for smooth operation. 

  • Employee access should be strictly role-based. This means access rights are granted based on an individual's job responsibilities. Employees should only have access to systems, applications, or data necessary to perform their assigned roles. 

  • Organizations need to set policies and procedures to effectively manage and assign accounts and related access permissions. This will help minimize the risk of unauthorized access and potential security breaches.

    So now that you know what PCI DSS requirements need to be met, let's proceed further and find out how user access review helps adhere to PCI DSS compliance standards.

3 Ways User Access Review Helps Your IT Team Achieve PCI DSS Compliance

Below are the ways how user access review helps your IT team in meeting PCI DSS compliance requirements:

  • Regularly review user access to actively monitor the entire access environment 

Your IT team can effectively monitor and gain complete visibility into the organization's access environment through regular user access reviews. This further helps determine who has access to what and whether the user access aligns with their designated job roles and responsibilities. If access permissions do not align with the user role, your IT team can proactively take corrective actions to realign user access with their designated job roles by enforcing role-based access control policies.

Additionally, frequent reviews enable your IT team to detect users granted excessive privileged access than required, allowing your team to quickly implement security control such as the least privilege access principle.

Furthermore, these reviews ensure that the entire access management process complies with the security policies set by PCI DSS. This proactive approach simplifies the path to comply with the PCI DSS standards.

  • Conduct user access reviews to identify unauthorized access & enhance data security

User access review is a mandate for most regulatory frameworks, including PCI DSS, as it is critical to identify potential vulnerabilities that can further jeopardize data integrity. Given below are some of the threats that can be easily mitigated by conducting such reviews:

  • Privilege Creep: Privilege creep occurs when employees accumulate access to sensitive data while working in the company. So, during an access review, your IT team can identify who has unnecessary access to cardholder data or critical assets (SaaS app data, or systems) and further modify the user access rights as required. 

    This process helps find out situations where new privileges have been added due to changes in employee responsibilities, but old/ inappropriate access rights have not been revoked.

  • Unauthorized access: A user access review enables your IT team to detect unauthorized/inappropriate access attempts effectively. This further helps them take preventative measures like restricting the users from accessing organization data, apps, and systems or suspending/deactivating their accounts if it can cause severe damage or compromise data integrity. 

  • Access Abuse: By conducting user access reviews, your IT team can limit access as required to minimize the likelihood of any mistakes or misuse of data.

  • Document the user access review process for future use

Maintaining a detailed record of the findings made by your reviewers during access reviews is crucial. It helps your IT team pinpoint potential issues within the access review procedure or in managing specific IT systems or data. 

For instance, if your procurement team frequently uses the company's credit card details on the same website to purchase software, then your IT team can conduct a review and find out all the transaction history and verify whether the website is authorized or not. 

If, in case, the reviewers find out that the website is unauthorized, your IT team can further revoke all the details from the employee to prevent any misuse of data. They also need to ensure the entire review is documented so that they can check if any other employees are sharing details on the same website.  

Now that you understand how user access review helps comply with PCI DSS, it's time to look for a suitable IGA platform to streamline the access review process. 

Though various IGA solutions are available to automate and streamline this process, one solution that stands out from the rest is Zluri. What exactly is Zluri, and how does it help to comply with regulatory standards? Let's take a quick look.

Zluri: Your Modern IGA Solution To Stay Compliant With Regulatory Standards 

Zluri is a modern, automated and autonomous IGA platform. It places prime emphasis on two critical aspects: data security and regulatory compliance, both of which are the foremost concerns for most organizations. To maintain data security and comply with regulatory standards like PCI DSS, Zluri conducts periodic reviews of users access—a mandatory requirement within various regulatory frameworks. 

Further, it offers a wide range of exclusive features to streamline and simplify the access audit process, including a data discovery engine, auto-remediation, activity and alert capabilities, and more. With the help of these features, your IT team can effectively strengthen data security, mitigate potential breaches, and ensure adherence to the stringent requirements set forth by the PCI DSS regulatory framework. 

Let's take a scenario to help you gain more clarity on how Zluri’s IGA functions. The procurement department has three employees: A, B, and C, each with distinct roles. A is responsible for identifying which software need to be procured, B's role is to verify whether the app is safe enough to onboard, and C manages the purchasing and negotiation process. 

So what the IT manager did is he provided the company's credit card details to all three of them. However, C is the only person who requires access to these card details. 

Allowing A and B to retain these sensitive card details poses a potential risk of misuse. So Zluri conducts access reviews to determine whether assigning card details is relevant to each user's role. 

If it's not necessary, Zluri enables your IT team to promptly take action and revoke card access from users who don't require it. This proactive approach safeguards the company from potential reputational and financial harm. 

This example was just a hint of what Zluri is capable of. However, there is yet to learn more about its advanced capabilities that will help your organization comply with stringent regulatory standards. So, let’s look at how Zluri adds to your advantage in conducting user access reviews. 

  • Identify Accurate User Access Data With Zluri’s Data Discovery Engine 

The manual procedure for gathering information about user access to sensitive data is prone to mistakes and inaccuracies. Additionally, it involves repetitive verification steps that IT teams must undertake to cross-check each data point.

So, this is where Zluri's data discovery engine capability steps in as the solution, providing complete visibility into user access data. This advanced feature enables your IT team to thoroughly analyze how your organization’s individual users interact with SaaS apps, data, and critical systems and gather insights based on it, saving your IT team's productive time while ensuring accuracy. 

Furthermore, Zluri utilizes five discovery methods: SSO or IDP, finance systems, direct integrations, browser extensions (optional), and desktop agents (optional). These methods enable IT teams to obtain in-depth insights into user access contexts. 

 Zluri’s Data Discovery Engine 

They can easily find out which authorized users have access to all critical data, their login/logout time, which websites they are using, whether the user status is active or inactive, which department the user is from, and more.

Furthermore, with the help of these precise data points, your IT team can promptly monitor user activities and detect any anomalies or suspicious user behaviors. By identifying potential insider threats at an early stage, your IT team can take security measures to avoid security breaches, data leaks, and other risks.

Also, identifying user access data allows your IT team to have a view of who has access to which critical data and app. This transparency ensures that access is granted based on designated roles and responsibilities, and further, it helps in streamlining the user access review.

critical data access
  • Streamline Compliance Adherence with Zluri's Access Review Capabilities

Maintaining compliance with ever-changing regulatory standards can challenge the GRC or compliance team. However, with Zluri’s IGA, your IT team has access to remarkable access review capabilities that assist your IT team in streamlining the review process and ensuring adherence to PCI DSS requirements.

With the help of these advanced capabilities, your IT team can ensure every employee has the right access to the right data with the right level of access permission at the right time while maintaining data integrity. 

It conducts regular or periodic reviews to help your IT team ensure access rights align with employees' roles and responsibilities and prevent unauthorized access by analyzing access patterns and user behavior. Also, with Zluri, your IT can ensure all the compliance requirements are met and become ready for upcoming audits. 

That’s not all; Zluri takes it a step further by offering unique capabilities to help your IT streamline the entire access review. So, let's understand in detail how Zluri's access review capabilities function.   

  • Unified Access Review

Zluri's unified access review feature enables your IT team to determine which users have access to sensitive data. To gain this insight, Zluri uses an access directory that centralizes all user access-related data in one centralized place.

With these accurate data points provided by the access active directory, such as what access permissions the user has (admins, users, or others), which department or position they are from, and more, your IT team can thoroughly examine users' access privileges and ensure they align with their designated roles.

Also, Zluri's activity & alert capabilities come as a great help. This feature provides your IT team with real-time data on users' recent activities and notifies them about new logins or any suspicious actions attempted by unauthorized users or malicious actors (hackers). 

Armed with all these data points, reviewers can immediately make decisions during access reviews, ensuring that the right users continue to have the right access privileges until the end of their tenure. 

  • Automated Access Review 

With Zluri, your IT team can automate the access audits; they create a certification, select the apps and users you want to review, and the rest of the reviewers will review and update you about the compilation via email. 

So, by automating this process, you get 10 x better results than manual methods and save your IT team's efforts by 70%. Now let's move ahead and see how it works. 

  • Once you gain access to contextual data through Zluri's unified access feature, you can create access rules around these insights. 

  • Next comes the schedule certification feature, where you can create certifications based on the gathered information. This allows you to take action based on the insights you've gained. 

    With Zluri's context-rich insights, your team can proactively take actions that align with the organization's set access management policies. It's a more efficient approach to ensure the right user has the right access, all while keeping your data secure. 

So let's see how you can create an access certification in Zluri:

Your IT/GRC team needs to follow the steps below to automate the access certification process:

  • Step 1: From Zluri’s main interface, click on the ‘Access Certification’ module.

  • Step 2: Now select the option ‘create new certification.’ You have to assign a certification name and designate a responsive owner to oversee the review. 

  • Step 3: Under Set Up Certification, choose the  ‘Application’ option. Proceed further by selecting the desired application for which you want to conduct the review and choose a reviewer (generally, the primary reviewers are the app owners) accountable for reviewing access to that particular application. 

    application certification

    After that, you need to select the fallback owner/reviewer; if the primary reviewer is unavailable, the fallback owner can review the user access (you can select anyone for the fallback reviewer whom you think is responsible enough). Also, the reviewers will get notified through the mail that they will conduct a review. 

Once you are done selecting the reviewers, you can click on Next

Assign reviewer
  • Step 4: Select Users for Review; choose the users whom you want to review for the selected application. Once you are done selecting the users, click on next. You will be able to view all the information related to the users. Then, you need to specify the criteria or parameters such as the user department, job title, usage, etc. Now click on update and then click on next.

    Note: Select only relevant data points you wish your reviewers to see while reviewing the access. By filtering the criteria appropriately, you enable your reviewers to make swift and well-informed decisions, streamlining the review process and ensuring efficiency.

    select users for review

  • Step 5: Now the Configure Action page will appear; basically, here, you have to choose actions. These actions will run post the review. 


    There are three actions:

  • Approved- once reviewers approve the user access, Zluri won't run any action, and the users can continue with their same access without any interruption.

  • Rejected- when the reviewer declines or doesn’t approve the user access, you have to run a deprovisioning playbook to revoke the access to that application from the user. If the user has access to critical apps, then you can request the assigned reviewer to manually deprovision the user access, or else Zluri will auto-remediate if it’s not critical access. 

  • Modify- In this last case; you again need to create a playbook to modify the user access. However, you must state whether the access permission needs to be upgraded or degraded. 

  • Step 6: Additionally, you can even schedule the actions by setting up the start date and within what time span you want the review to be completed. 

  • Step 7: Lastly, you can keep track of the automated access review process by clicking on the ‘Review Status’ and viewing whether the review is still pending, modified, declined, or approved.

    Also, you can add multiple applications and follow the same process for each selected application.

    Zluri also provides the owner access to a snapshot view of the entire certification process status. Also, they can get an overview of the pending reviews and monitor the status of each app’s review, including their assigned reviewers and their completion status.

    You can even send reviewers reminders who are yet to complete their reviews.   

    Further to streamline the process for reviewers, Zluri provides reviewers with all the user access data on a single screen, i.e. reviewer screen. For the same screen, reviewers can approve, modify, and decline access by verifying the data, and also they have to add relevant comments on the same.

    Now, you will be able to view the entire status of the review process on the chart and once the process is completed and the owner (assigned reviewer of the certification process) is fine with the review. You can click on conclude and it will straight away send the reports to the reviewers' email. 

    So, don't wait any longer! Book a demo now and see for yourself how Zluri enables your IT team to effectively streamline and simplify user access review user access while ensuring data security and adhering to compliance standards. 

Related Blogs

See More