Business intelligence (BI) is an indispensable tool in the arsenal of successful companies. It allows them to follow the right strategies and pick the most effective tool to see them through. Marketers use it to adapt to the fast-changing realities and fine-tune their product offerings. It is quite ironic that the all-importance of BI has also increased the big security risks. Hence, BI becomes a double-edged sword, and when you wield it carelessly, you can do more harm than good.
Plague of risks
While data warehousing revolves around hoarding massive amounts of data, BI is preoccupied with means of integrating it into business systems. The goal is to empower companies to make informed, strategic business decisions and allocate resources more efficiently. One other thing it must not lose sight of, though, is how to preserve the security of this data.
Many BI solutions have a centralized architecture, which means that quite a bit of sensitive data is stored in one place and potentially prone to cyber thieves and hackers. The information can be stolen, but also altered towards whatever ends these wrongdoers see fit. One thing to note, however, is that some security threats originate from an internal business environment.
A planned effort
Some novelty trends have added fuel to the fire. Namely, the rapid proliferation of mobile devices in combination with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies produces a high-risk ecosystem. Employees nowadays expect to have instant mobile access to pretty much everything in the office, which compromises the safety of the whole corporate network.
So, it is clear that businesses have no other option than to develop a comprehensive security policy for BI. This critical document must encompass essential areas of data storage, user/role classification, data transmission and data classification. In some sectors, businessmen must also adhere to the industry and regulatory compliance directives.
One of the key decisions is selecting the right BI software. There is no shortage of quality tools out there and choices matter a great deal. Ease of use and a set of features are not the only considerations, albeit these aspects determine the efficiency of software utilization. One must also weigh the safeguards for corporate data and go through security credentials.
A common way to protect data is to employ access controls. In a nutshell, the access is granted to the users on an as-needed basis. This reduces the time wasted and lowers the risk of false analysis results. The controls can be in the data warehouse or at the level of presentation and reporting. Although the latter method is simpler, it increases the likelihood of human error.
Furthermore, many business organizations take advantage of the de-identification of data in order to deal with data leaks. It represents an irreversible process of stripping the data of all personal info (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.). Credit card companies utilize its variation called tokenization. This technique enables compliance with the PCI standards by replacing the sensitive data with tokens that point out to data in other external databases.
Safe and sound
BI is far from another buzzword: It is pervasive for sound decision-making on all levels and across different industries. Alas, stories about data leaks and security breaches make headlines, forcing a wide array of players to take action. They must identify security vulnerabilities and figure out best ways of thwarting them. This is a daunting task, but also the one well worth investing in. Ultimately, it allows us to come up roses and strike a fine balance between efficiency and security.