This is part 15 of a 22 part blog series by the leading experts at Symphony Ventures. It addresses how to choose the right RPA tools for your business needs. Drawing from our global team’s extensive knowledge in automation consulting, implementation, and managed services across a range of diverse industries, we’ve drilled into the technical criteria to consider when selecting which RPA software best enables your company’s digital operation strategy.
Enterprise-level RPA solutions often involve a considerable amount of data processing and information transfer. As with all important processes, this data can contain sensitive information. RPA solutions must have sufficient security measures to avoid compromising the integrity of company data. Therefore, security is one of the primary points of focus when Symphony is making RPA software considerations. This blog will detail the many encryption-based features you might find when using an RPA tool.
What is Encryption?
We must first introduce encryption – “the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it.” It is one of the most practical and effective forms of digital security in modern times. This form of encoding digital information is used across a wide range of industries and has become a standard in protecting data access. Encrypted data is notoriously secure because it requires a direct transfer of a secret key or password to access. Any attempt by a perpetrator to guess or brute-force an industry-standard key would take an infeasible amount of time.
Encryption in RPA
When looking at encryption within RPA you should be asking yourself a few key questions:
- Can the tool encrypt my data at rest?
- Am I able to choose which data is stored at rest?
- Has adequate thought / design been put into my process regarding the data they will be using?
- Can the tool encrypt my data in transit?
- Does the tool support secure network setups?
- Can the tool support my organizations encryption methods?
The following sections will consider these questions in more detail.
1. Data at Rest
When designing a process to run within your RPA environment, there should be a conscious and pragmatic decision made regarding the data that will be handled and what “actually” needs to be stored at rest by your RPA tool. This decision should be influenced by multiple factors including but not limited to:
- The quality of encryption that can be imposed when data is at REST
- Does storage of the data break your organizations data policies or compliance?
- Is your RPA environment/tool compliant for storage of the data (PCI for example)?
- Is there safe data that can be stored instead to get you back to the sensitive data your process requires (obfuscated ID like user ID or code)?
Should you decide sensitive data needs to be stored at rest within your RPA environment, then time should be taken to ensure that you both know when this data may appear within logs (a configurable administration feature among enterprise-level RPA tools) and to what level you can or need encrypt the data.
2. Data in Transit
Enterprise-level RPA tools will allow your organization to employ different techniques to secure data that is being transferred across a network though your RPA suite, this allows the methods employed to meet your internal security policies.
Besides the features offered by the RPA tool itself, it is always advised that comprehensive network design is employed to provide further levels of security. This can take the form of hosting environments within dedicated V-Lan’s and behind environment specific firewalls, it is highly important that the chosen RPA tool can also support these methods.
3. Credential Safe
A stand-out security feature of enterprise-level RPA tools is the implementation of a ‘credential safe.’ A credential safe is a utility that is employed to secure credentials that may be utilized by your processes. It can ensure that login information is only accessible by the process/robot intended to carry out the task. On top of the ‘credential safe,’ a good RPA tool will allow you to develop specific processes to maintain passwords that are stored. An example of such a maintenance process could be to ensure that the password is changed after every use, with a new one generated to your password standards. By employing such a design, you can provide a dynamic layer of security for extra-sensitive processes.
Due to its importance, most of the RPA tools that lack credential safes are striving to create similar built-in functionalities. Others make use of similar features, built into the developer tools themselves, or simply 3rd party credential managers. Ideally, a credential safe would be secured in the RPA tool itself, because it would be more readily accessible.
Encryption can ensure a basic level of security for all sensitive data. Many RPA tools allow for the configuration and customization of encryption methods, from securing specific types of data to safeguarding against the interception of network communication. However, encryption is most effective when implemented with a comprehensive information security plan. Best practices can protect against unforeseen loopholes, such as a breach from internal agents – which we will cover in our next blog.
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