Using Business Intelligence Software to Overcome Data Security Threats in the Cloud

Today’s business environment is faster than ever – and the use of effective business intelligence software to manage huge amounts of data gathered has never been as important as now. Most of it is unstructured, but also unexploited, and this incredibly valuable source of insights remains untapped.

However, businesses have now realized the potential of all this data – big or not -, and the implementation of business intelligence (BI) strategies to maintain data security integrity is unavoidable.

The Rise of Cloud-Based Software

Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become increasingly popular, especially for small and medium-sized companies, as they do not require important upfront investments nor a long and arduous implementation time. What used to be months of implementation are compressed into days or even hours, an incredible advantage in our fast-paced environment.

Instead of building and maintain costly data warehouses, businesses turn to on-demand BI resources like the cloud that are more corresponding to their needs. 

The Potential Security Threats from the Cloud 

89% of TDWI’s respondents found that big data and business intelligence software were a vulnerable data security opportunity for hackers.

It’s no surprise that data management SaaS solutions are flourishing on the market to answer that demand. Their convenient data management ability, storing all the information needed from several databases in one centralized place, is an asset that, while convenient, can raise concerns.

The convenient, centralized architecture of BI solutions is a security risk for companies, aggregating a lot of potentially sensitive data in one place which is accessed by many people.

A growing trend fueling this concern is the BYOD, Bring Your Own Device to work. What begins as a good intention (like improving one’s productivity in avoiding ineffective equipment and long ticket-submission-resolution processes), BYOD represents a real security nightmare for companies. With the development of BYOD and mobile devices, employees often expect mobile access to everything in their office and store their work on a cloud, for more collaboration, but it can have an impact on IT data security.

How To Secure Your Cloud Business Intelligence Software

Several techniques exist to secure cloud BI, and there are specific questions you should ask yourself when deciding to start using a SaaS BI tool:

  • Who will access the data? Authentication and authorization security are the first steps when setting up a SaaS program. The most rudimentary and somehow easy to apply technique is the access control by granting credentials only when needed. Indeed, if too many people can freely access any data, even non-needed or wrong data, a security vulnerability arises. Besides, it will also lead to wasted time sorting out what is needed and what is not, or incorrect analysis performed.
  • Which data is sensitive and which is not? Which measures are in place to protect it? Data classification is an important point to be considered and addressed. There can be different levels of sensitivity that can be applied and the standards applied should be appropriate.
  • How are the BI applications allowed to access data and perform specific actions? Entitlement guidelines should be defined from the start, to avoid any misunderstanding or further disappointment from both sides. This is typically the question asked from applications that want to access your Facebook profile and specific information related to it, while posting in your name eventually if you allow it to.
  • Which encryption technology is the SaaS provider using in order to make sure that any communication is secured at any time you have one? Data transmission is another important requirement that should also be clarified between the two parties to know how encryption is performed when files are transferred.
  • Where are the provider’s servers located and who can access them? What happens to my data after I terminate my account? The answers to these questions are related to data retention policies that are specific to each company, but that still have to be lawfully to the country/region they are subjected to. When it comes to data security and privacy enforcement, the European Union has among the toughest laws in the world.

Cloud storage can indeed be secure, but they require an explicit effort on your part to ensure that the right steps are taken with business intelligence software implementation.

In general, business owners and management should keep in mind that for the desired level of data security, an understandable policy should be implemented within the company and considered by all users.

 

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