How secure are your RPA Processes?

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Robotic Process Automation is an emerging technology with many organisations looking at how they might benefit from automating some or all, of their business processes. However, in some companies there is a common misconception that letting robots loose on the network could pose a significant security risk. The belief being that robots are far less secure users than their human counterparts.  

In reality, a compelling case could be made that robots are inherently more secure than people 

Provided your robots are treated in the same way as their human teammates i.e. inherit the security access and profile of the person/role they are programmed to simulate there is no reason why a robot should have be any less secure. In other words, the security policies and access controls suitable for humans should be applied to the software robots in just the same way.  

There are many security advantages gained from introducing a robot into your organisation.  

  • Once a robot has been trained to perform a task, it never deviates from the policies, procedures and business rules in place
  • Unlike human users, robots lack curiosity (so they won’t be tempted to open phishing emails), cannot be tricked into revealing information or downloading unauthorised software. 
  • Robots have no motives which might could turn them into a disgruntled employee by ignoring existing policies and procedures.  

So, we can see that on the contrary- in many ways the predictable behaviour of the robot makes them your most trusted employee! 

RPA certainly represents an unprecedented level of transformation and disruption to “business as usual” – one that requires careful preparation and planning. But while caution is prudent, many of the security concerns related to RPA implementation are overstated. 

The issue of data security can be broken down into two points;  

  • Data Security 
  • Access Security 

This means ensuring that the data being accessed and processed by the robot remains secure and confidential. Access management of the robots must be properly assigned and reviewed similar to the review and management of existing human user accounts. 

Here are some of the key security points to consider: 

  1. Segregating access to data is not any different than when granting access to normal users, which is based on what the robot should actually do, and not providing domain admin permissions and/or elevated access, unless absolutely necessary. 
  2. Passwords should be maintained in a password vault and service accounts’ access should be reviewed periodically. 
  3. Monitoring the activity of the robots and logon information via a “control room” (e.g. monitoring of logon information and any errors). 
  4. An RPA environment should be strictly customised via active directory integration, which will increase business efficiency as access management is centralised. 
  5. Encryption of credentials. 
  6. Performing independent code audits and reviews, no different than with any other IT environment. 
  7. Robots are programmed using secure programming methods. 
  8. Security testing against policy controls. 

 

All these points must be considered from the outset. This is security by design, that must be embedded in the RPA process from the start. It must be re-emphasised that the security of RPA is not just about protecting access to the data but securing the data itself. 

Overall, RPA lowers security-related efforts associated with training employees and teaching them security practices (e.g. password management, applications of privacy settings etc) because it ensures a zero-touch environment. By eliminating manual work, automation minimizes security risks at a macro level, if the key controls are implemented at the beginning. 

In addition, an automated environment removes biases, variability and human error. The lack of randomness and variability can increase uniform compliance of company requirements built in the workflows and tasks of the automation. 

Besides security risks, the zero-touch environment of RPA also helps mitigate other human-related risks in business operations. An automated environment is free from biases, prejudices or variability, all of which are human work with the risk of error. Because of this, RPA ensures less risky and consistent work with trustworthy data. 

Therefore, RPA should be wisely implemented, which basically amounts to a choice of a stable RPA product or provider, backed by proper, constant monitoring of security measures. Providing role-based access to confidential data, monitoring access and data encryption are the most salient means to deal with security risks. 

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Posted on : 17-06-2019 | By : richard.gale | In : Uncategorized

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