Are You Worried About Robotic Process Automation Security Risks?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology that helps organizations automate routine, mundane tasks, which in turn, supports a more productive workforce. Offloading repetitive, tedious work may also improve employee satisfaction. The majority of companies surveyed in this study believe RPA is helping employees enjoy their work more. This benefit, along with many others, is contributing to the rapid expansion of the RPA market – which is expected to grow from $1.23 billion in 2020 to more than $13 billion by 2030.

As with any technology that handles sensitive data, security is a top concern and it’s important to have a security strategy. To help guide you in developing one for RPA, consider the following:

One bot assigned to one task

Avoid creating “super bots” responsible for completing many different tasks. Instead, align one bot to one task. This segmentation improves security and accountability – two essential components of security – and provides more visibility if you do have a problem. For example, when bot No. 5 starts giving you error messages, that error code will be tied to a specific task managed by bot No. 5, so you can zero in and fix the problem.

Addressing unattended workstation concerns

A common concern about RPA is the potential risks associated with operating a machine 24/7/365. How can you be sure the bots complete everything they should? And how can you be sure they’re not doing extra tasks that they shouldn’t be doing?

To address these concerns, work with your RPA vendor to enact appropriate security controls to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the process – i.e., the machine’s screen is always blank so nobody can view data or watch it work. Also, carefully control access by limiting who can log in to the device.

Choosing an RPA industry specialist

An RPA provider with specialized experience in your industry will be up to date on your organization’s regulatory and security considerations.

For those in the healthcare industry, correctly managing protected health information (PHI) is a huge priority. An RPA provider experienced in handling PHI will have a wealth of knowledge about safely managing and storing this data. They will ask questions such as:

  • What do you plan to do with the data?
  • What is the lifecycle of the data?
  • Is data truly deleted through a given process? And, if not, who can recover it?
  • What systems are you integrating with, and are they secure?

A specialist will also keep an eye on fast-changing regulations to help you stay proactively compliant and secure.

Protecting the integrity of logs

Protecting log integrity is another vital RPA consideration, according to a report published by Gartner. Of course, you want to put security in place to minimize the risk of breach, but if a situation does occur, your team needs to go back and quickly review the logs.

Ensure that whatever RPA tool you select has a complete, system-generated log without any gaps that could hinder visibility in the event of a breach.

Auditing bots regularly

Every bot is designed to solve a specific problem, but situations can change. That’s why you should continuously audit your bots for performance and security.

Threat modeling is a helpful tool for spotting potential security weaknesses. You uncover all the bad things that could happen, determine the likelihood of occurrence and give them a score. For example, an event with a once-in-a-lifetime probability but with a terrible impact would have a high score. Rating all the events based on the threat model gives you an ordered list of priorities so you can more effectively figure out where to devote your attention and resources.

In addition, you want to periodically examine a bot’s performance to ensure that it’s still working quickly and efficiently. A bot that has gotten slower over time might warrant adding more bots to the process.

Proactively addressing RPA security

RPA is a powerful technology that helps companies continue their digital transformation while meeting increased customer demands in a tight labor market. And like all technologies, it has security considerations. Working with an RPA partner with expertise in your specific industry helps you proactively address security and productivity to help you gain a competitive advantage in the market.