Gone are the days when companies had to rely on time-consuming, error-prone, costly, manual business processes.
Today, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is rapidly gaining popularity for its ability to streamline and standardize process-related tasks, potentially increasing productivity, improving customer satisfaction, delivering substantial time and cost savings, and building a competitive advantage for businesses.
Companies dealing with any degree of automation understand that software bots, like humans, log into accounts using supplied credentials and could touch critical enterprise apps and process information from various company databases. Consequently, the platform can access confidential personal and customer data, which makes RPA security critical to protect companies from the tremendous costs arising from a security incident. It also assures business and IT teams that RPA deployment won’t compromise security or compliance internally or externally.
A robust security architecture ensures RPA bots don’t misuse their privileges. It does so by giving them the least privileges and separation of duties, assigning role access to processed data and delivering end-to-end protection to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of critical applications, sensitive data, and related secrets.
The first step toward a solid and secure RPA infrastructure begins with an understanding of the core architectural components of the solution, their operations, and the requirements for a secure RPA platform. Let’s use Automation Anywhere Enterprise A2019 platform and its core components — the Control Room, Bot Creators, and Bot Runners — as an example.
The Control Room is the automation environment’s brain where RPA operators manage the operation of the organization’s bots. Bot Creator is used to build and test bots and their automation, while the Bot Runner executes the bots in the production environment so that they can work.
Two basic types of automations occur within the platform:
RPA security ensures that any threat actors looking to infiltrate a company’s defenses through any vulnerability to steal their personal and confidential data can’t access the platform.
Such vulnerabilities include a rogue, poorly designed, or misconfigured bot, weak authentication, vulnerable encryption and access controls, and/or lack of these security features. All these could expose your sensitive data, putting your organization at risk in terms of stolen data, damaged brand reputation, and disrupted business operations.
There are certain requirements that must be incorporated to address the specific risks that could emerge at various stages in the automated setup. Here are some of the steps we take to ensure all of your data is protected.
1. Multi-layer identification and authentication
Set up your security so that humans and bots must be authenticated before accessing or performing actions in the RPA platform.
Automation Anywhere offers the flexibility to have single or multi-factor authentications and application credentials in the Control Room, which manages and monitors all processes of the infrastructure. This includes integration with Microsoft Active Directory using LDAP, Active Directory using Kerberos, and local authentication using the embedded Credential Vault for identity and access management. You can also use an external third-party-privileged access system or support for SAML 2.0 based single sign-on (SSO).
Encrypt your passwords or data so that only authorized parties with the secret password can gain access. To maintain data confidentiality and integrity, the RPA solution should not only protect data at rest and in transit but also the data that’s being used on systems.
On our RPA platform, data at rest is protected with AES-256 encryption, providing secure storage for sensitive details pertaining to email services, integral version control, and configuration parameters. The platform offers bank-grade encryption, authentication, and credentials within every aspect of the platform to protect all data, whether at rest or in motion.
It securely stores system-managed credentials and critical system configuration data in an embedded Credential Vault, encrypts local credentials and runtime data used by bots, and employs Transport Layer Security (TLS) to safeguard data in transit between components.
There are other measures you can take to help prevent tampering with bots during runtime or unauthorized access to confidential data such as:
3. Access control
Role-based access control (RBAC) is native to RPA platforms, and it allows businesses to restrict access only to authorized users while segregating automation-related duties between employees.
Different levels of access such as view, create, or edit/modify can be assigned to individual users of the RPA system based on their authority and role within the organization. It also allows for granular access control to protected resources, including audit logs, which ensures high internal security levels where only authorized users can view or manipulate the software bots’ actions.
Automation Anywhere Enterprise Control Room offers multilayered identification and authentication to restrict access to systems and data by human users as well as attended and unattended bots. Its fine-grained RBAC allows administrators to define and customize roles and set privileges/permissions for functions and objects such as licensing, user management, audit logs, and dashboards.
It also restricts bots to operating using a specific set of human or system IDs, which strengthens the segregation of duties and auditing capabilities within the platform.
4. Audit logs
Any high-profile IT solution, including RPA platforms, should offer comprehensive audit logging, monitoring, and reporting capabilities.
Extensive and non-repudiable audit logging is performed for 185+ activities on our platform. Comprehensive and continuous audit logging capabilities in the Enterprise Control Room enable you to identify and alert abnormal activities such as bot performance errors, misuse by employees, malicious code, or any other detail of interest within the automation for further analysis and incident response/investigation. It ensures enterprise-level security and audit compliance.
When considering an RPA solution for your company, pick one with a strong commitment to making an enterprise-grade platform that incorporates all the requirements and smart security choices mentioned here to protect the critical applications, bots, and data. This way, business and IT leaders will be assured that the solution can be deployed without compromising security and compliance and can focus on reaping the many benefits of automation.
Gautam Roy leads the product marketing and strategy of security features for the Automation Anywhere product portfolio. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events.