In today’s world ‘data’ is the driving force behind any business. Storage of that data in a place where it’s secure from unauthorized access, be it physical or online, is not only desired, it’s MANDATORY! As data warehousing concepts become more advanced and sophisticated, so do the methods of miscreants who are always on the lookout for the proverbial “chink in the armor” to gain unlawful access. Needless to say, such a security breach could have devastating consequences, ranging from exposure of critical and key business information to the compromised client database.
Data warehouse security measures, therefore, are indispensable and should be strictly enforced to ensure data integrity at all levels. Fortunately, there are renowned and tested best practices which can be implemented to curb and curtail data theft. But first let’s address some issues which commonly arise while trying to incorporate these practices:
Data Warehouse Security Challenges – A Bird’s Eye View
The share scope and magnitude of a data warehouse is perhaps the foremost hurdle in the way of implementing security measures. A large data warehouse would typically be accessed by numerous employees from different hemispheres of the globe for analytics, business intelligence operations, data mining, and more. The challenge is to maintain a balance between providing the employees unrestricted and ready access while maintaining the data security and integrity.
Further classification of users and the level of access they have to the data is also a problematic road to traverse. Lastly, the security measures themselves can sometimes become too suffocating and might adversely affect the overall performance of the data warehouse. The answer to all these challenges is the implementation of security measures which are custom made and aligned closely with the structure of the organization.
Best Practices for Ensuring Impenetrable Data Warehouse Security
Before we delve into details of the best practices, it is necessary to subdivide them into physical and online aspects further. Both these aspects work side by side to render the data warehouse impenetrable and safe from intrusions.
Physical Security Practices
- Restricting and controlling physical access to data warehouses has been made easy thanks to tech innovations like biometric readers, anti-tailgating systems and other physical access control mechanisms. These might look excessive and an expenditure overhead, but they play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity and safety of the precious enterprise data.
- Imparting information about security protocols and ensuring all the personnel in the proximity of the data warehouse religiously obey and adhere to these rules is one of the keys to success. It’s understandable that an employee can be used by intruders to gain access, but if the employee in question is ardently following the specified guidelines it makes a world of difference.
- Structural information of the data warehouse should also be a jealously guarded secret for obvious reasons.
Software-Based Security Measures
Data encryption is one of the primary safeguards against data theft. All data should be encrypted using algorithms like AES (advanced encryption standard) or FIPS 140-2 certified software for data encryption, whether it’s in the transactional database or the data warehouse. Some proponents would argue that data encryption adversely affects the performance and data access speed of data centers, but considering the alternative, it is preferred.
Data Segmenting and Partitioning
Data encryption although an added security measure can be quite cumbersome if applied without segmenting and partitioning. Segmenting and partitioning entail classifying or splitting data into sensitive and non-sensitive information. After going through partitioning,g the data should be accordingly encrypted and put into separate tables ready for consumption. A very viable study about this was done by semantic scholar which is worth a read.
Securing On-The-Move Data
Securing data in a single place and transit are two different ball games. Here data in transit means the one which is being relayed from transactional databases in real time to the data warehouse. These transactional databases can be anywhere geographically, therefore using protective protocols, such as SSL or TSL is highly recommended. Cloud-based data warehouses nowadays provide a secure and impenetrable tunnel between the database and the cloud storage which should be leveraged.
Trusted Witness Server
As mentioned earlier, hackers and intruders nowadays have become as skilled and sophisticated as the security measures they are up against. Implementing a trusted witness server is akin to hiring a watchdog that avidly and quite tenaciously keeps vigil on your data access points. It can detect an unwarranted and suspicious attempts at accessing data and generate an alert immediately. This allows the people responsible for the data warehouse security to stop the intruders dead in their tracks.
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