RPA Security Considerations

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) uses automation technologies to perform back-office operations usually done by human workers, such as extracting data, moving files, filling forms, producing reports, etc. It combines user interface and APIs to integrate and implement repetitive tasks between the enterprises and productivity applications. Certainly, RPA is creating big changes in the way these mundane tasks are done; bringing efficiency and increasing productivity to a greater extent. Typically, RPA systems work without any type of human interaction, this eases the burden of the employees of the business.

RPA works in sync with other software to complete a task, working by mimicking the keystrokes and mouse clicks made by humans. All the automation does is remove the human touch and do everything for them; logging into the applications, entering the data, performing calculations, and logging out.

Security Challenges With RPA

Any organization looking to start implementing RPA should be aware that there are security-related challenges. These include.

  • Audit logs need to be maintained: Keeping audit logs necessary as they capture bot activity is important to track bot health and effectiveness. For example, if a bot ever stops working, the audit log will help identify the underlying reason, whether it is malicious code or improper use by an employee.

  • Lack of bot password management: When working with human users, passwords are confidential and can be reset routinely in order to prevent unauthorized access. On the other hand, this cannot be implemented for bots due to the absence of the proper tools.

  • Constant supervision needed: It is important to monitor bots periodically at various times and levels to make sure they are not misbehaving, which could lead to potential damage and high error rates.

  • Ineffective bots: There have been cases in which bots may not perform as intended due to faulty coding, or inadequate testing. Resulting in errors and issues during go-live.

  • Data misuse: There are some processes in which bots require access to private information like passwords, addresses, credit card numbers, and more of employees, clients, and vendors. The challenge here is to make sure that personal and corporate data remain confidential and is not misused.

Security Risks With RPA

Security challenges are not the only dangers that come with using RPA, there also are risks that come with implementing this automation tool into your organization’s system. These are:

  • SAP automation: Although RPA can be very effective for complex SAP ERP systems, it increases the risks of the business, which can result in penalties from regulatory authorities.

  • Orchestration hijacking: Frameworks compromised by attackers can be used for malicious purposes. For example, in the case of Kubernetes that recently experienced its first major security breach while being the world’s most popular cloud container automation system.

  • Insecure frameworks: Organizations can be exposed to new types of security threats by using RPA frameworks.

  • Higher risk exposure: The automation entangled with RPA creates different layers such as robust web, APIs, and data exchange that are vulnerable to attacks.

RPA bots can be developed by malicious users with the intention to breach an organization’s defenses and steal confidential data. The bots can be used to track the product listings of competitors, data theft etc.

How To Mitigate Security Risk In RPA?

To address the deficiency in security with RPA projects, risk and security management leaders should follow a four-step action plan:

  1. Ensure accountability for bot actions: As organizations rushed to set up RPA projects during the COVID pandemic in order to minimize costs by automating boring tasks, the most common mistake they made was not differentiating between bot identities and bot operators. Organizations can ensure dedicated identification credentials and identity naming standards by assigning a unique identity to each RPA bot and process. To add yet another layer of security, implementing a two-factor authentication along with the username and password authentication can be a lifesaver.

  2. Breaks in security on-demand by abuse and fraud can be avoided: Implementing RPA can lead to an increase in the privileges of an account and, at the same time, increasing the risk of fraud. To avoid this, security leaders need to restrict RPA’s access strictly to what each bot needs in order to accomplish the assigned task. For example, if the RPA bot task is to copy certain values from a database and paste them into an email, it should only have read access to the database rather than writing access.

  3. Protect log integrity: In the case of an RPA security failure, the security team will need to review the logs. Companies commonly feed RPA logging to a separate system, in which logs are stored securely and in great detail. Leaders of security and risk management must ensure that the RPA tool provides a full, system-generated log without gaps that may impact the investigation.

  4. Enabling secure RPA development: The development of RPAs is an ongoing process. It can’t be a one-time activity and needs to be able to evolve to tackle the threats and vulnerabilities. Organizations, to speed up the formation, tend to postpone security considerations until the scripts of the RPA are ready to run.

Extra Measures To Mitigate Security Risks In RPA

  • Conduct periodic risk assessments and regular audits: Ensuring all the bots are operating within the defined set of rules and implementing proper controls to monitor RPA activities. This log should be regularly reviewed. Periodic risk assessments are also needed to track the development of new risks, check if controls have lapsed and regulate whether any robot should be withdrawn.

  • Control access to the RPA environment: Being careful about how organizations grant access to analysts is a requirement. For instance, personal IDs should never be used in RPA, instead, it’s better to use generic IDs.

  • Use a password vault: Using password vaults allows RPA teams to store passwords in a single archive without compromising the security.

  • Ensure process continuity: Organizations must create a clear business continuity plan that outlines the backup procedures and information sources needed to perform each task.

Overall, organizations looking to adopt RPA in order to improve their productivity should plan their employment carefully in order to protect themselves from security breaches. Robotic Process Automation creates layers of applications that are vulnerable to risk and, without supervision, bots may fail to complete their work effectively, causing issues, errors, and potential damage. It is also imperative for organizations to institute the correct security measures as bots may need to access private information; some of these measures include creating audit logs, password vaults, governance frameworks, and version controls. By using these measures, companies will allow RPA to handle security by itself, thereby ensuring optimal bot performance and reduced risk for the business.