RPA and GDPR: Security Governance in the Automation Era
The data on security breaches is overwhelming on many fronts. Over a billion records of consumers have been compromised since 2005. The total number of breaches in the period is threatening at around 8000. As late as 2017, big companies like Target, Equifax, and Neiman Marcus could not shield themselves from data breach attempts. Mind you, one of these is a top national credit reporting agency.
Noted analyst Avivah Litan predicts the following instances of misuse for the stolen data:
- The data can get tossed around in an endless sell-and-resell loop of underground data piracy
- Sensitive data can be used to steal bank accounts from customers
- Identity thieves can use the data to update their existing records of targeted individuals
- Adversarial nation states can use the data to disrupt peace or launder money out of the US
None of these constitutes stray casualty. The cumulative implications of the breaches are beyond grave. In fact, it is very difficult to quantify the damage dealt by these breaches to the society at large. That is where the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) swings into action. It gives consumers greater control over their own data while making corporates bite the bullet on their data processing practices.
What is the GDPR?
The GDPR is a regulation adopted by the European Union. It lays out the norms for data protection and privacy for the individuals that live in the European Union. It is one among the series of regulations that have helped formalize governance around security concerns of the average consumer.
In addition to strengthening consumer rights, GDPR aims at formalizing security standards that companies must establish to protect the data of their consumers.
Every organization functioning out of Europe and non-European organizations that collect the data of European citizens are expected to comply with the GDPR. The latest GDPR guidelines regulate how personal data is used, processed, stored, and deleted.
The GDPR also lays out that data subjects can request for both access and real-time usage information from organizations. If there’s any breach involving the personal data of users, it must be reported to the appropriate authority that oversees the regulation.
Security Governance: The Onus is on the Enterprise
At the crux of the GDPR is the impetus the regulation puts on enterprises to do all things necessary to protect consumer information. This has forced every enterprise software vendor to re-evaluate their policies regarding storage and management of sensitive user data.
This is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is impacting the industry in a big way. RPA platforms like Automation Anywhere are instrumental in offering comprehensive features in security and reliability. Starting with automation at once promises the following benefits for organizations:
- Data encryption at all levels – when the data is in memory, in motion, or at rest.
- A robust security framework (either built-in or third party) that guarantees security in the management and storage of user information. As a default practice, machine that store user credentials meant for critical purposes and the machines that run the software should always be exclusive.
- Analysis of codes on both static and dynamic parameters, including manual pen testing for unbreakable application security.
- Seamless enterprise based authentication system integration
- Expansive logs of audits to support forensic analyses and audit processes
- Secure operations that that make sure data is not exposed to business process threats during standard execution of processes
RPA platforms work with many ERP tools and in effect touch extensive sets of data within your organization. In case you are already using an RPA platform, make sure to check with them on GDPR compliance and the security measures they follow to ensure compliance.
How is RPA Easing up GDPR Implementation?
The first and absolutely unavoidable threat with manual processing of customer data is the guarantee of human errors. It does not really matter what level of security you follow. Even the slightest margin of error means that the organization is at the risk of non-compliance.
With RPA, you can automate the process defined by the legal and business teams to become GDPR compliant. Here is a collection of ways in which bots are helping enterprises with GDPR compliance:
Enterprise RPA platforms are loaded with audit logs which monitor every operational process, creating logs for users and events at every stage of a given process. When there’s a data breach, audit logs swing into action with recurring spells of root cause analysis. What follows is routine forensic analysis to recognize and thereafter report the breach.
Content that relates to specific internal or external events can be gathered concurrently in real time. This comes in especially handy in case an organization is attempting to decode a fraudulent activity.
Documentation of data
There’s a lot of data pouring in from devices, sensors, and systems at the office. From the organizations perspective, it must be able to document all the data that is held in its directory, along with the source of its origin. The organization must be able to submit updated reports to the authorities in charge of data protection. GDPR mandates companies to purge personal data once it has crossed the holding period.
This is another area where RPA can help organizations by using bots that automate the process of masking PII data that is identifiable across applications. For the PII data that does not adhere to established policy, Natural Language Processing (NLP) lets bots recognize such data and generate alerts that help in intercepting the issue.
GDPR makes it mandatory that subjects affected by data breaches be informed about it within 72 hours. For data breaches of a magnanimous nature, sending out information to everyone involved within 72 hours can become almost impossible. Imagine the case of Equifax, where 143 million users directly affected by the breach.
On the flip side, it is way easier to automate software bots to perform the job. In most instances, it does not even take 72 hours and makes sure the security governance timeframe is met.
Right to Access Information
European customers can request to access their information and know how an organization stores and uses the information. GDPR guarantees this right to all European consumers. If an organization wants to do this manually, it would need a dedicated team of individuals. Plus, every individual on the team must have access to such information.
It is way easier for bots to navigate through different systems and pull out data relevant to every user in question.
Right to Information Deletion
If a user requests an organization to dispossess their personal information, GDPR mandates the organization to delete such information promptly. Consider there is no automated process to do this. An employee or a team will have to access the information and then delete it from dozens of applications. Bots can not only pull out the relevant information on users but also email the report back to the concerned customers.
Some Data Cannot be Seen
There are legacy systems hiding data more than a decade old. Data can be accessed from these systems when needed. However, it’s never been as important to uncover sketchy data as it is now. RPA is the most convenient way to integrate the current technology platforms with legacy systems. Automation is also perhaps the only way to document and recognize available data that might be the cause of non-compliance.
Most companies are still taking their own sweet time understanding and dissecting the General Data Policy Regulation. At this, there is the threat of flooding of requests by consumers. Adhering to these requests will be compulsory. Doing it manually will mount up heavy costs on the administration. But the fact is responding to such requests might only be subject to a few well-defined requests. That makes it a great process for RPA to flex muscles.
The crux of it is organizations will have a hard time maintaining GDPR compliance in the absence of RPA. RPA solves security governance through GDPR wholly with the promise of zero errors.