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7 Best Practices for Securing Data Through Metadata

Data security requires you to take a step back on look at the entire technological landscape. There are often tangential relationships that can end up exposing your entire system.

For example, Home Depot had their customers’ information compromised because of a hack to a third-party vendor. This created a backdoor to their system, which the criminals exploited to gain access to contact and payment information.Man hacking into computer_AutoRABIT

There are numerous things a company can do to protect their information. And even with constant attention, failure to address every issue can still leave them open to data security breaches.

Metadata works behind the scenes but is incredibly important to the way your Salesforce data is managed.

This can be used to exploit yours if it’s not properly secured. Conversely, metadata can be used to protect your Salesforce data with a few intentional methods.

1. Organize a Data Governance Team
Your catalog of metadata and data might be loosely arranged so you can mostly find what you need when you need it. This is workable and a reason many companies don’t fully integrate data governance into their processes. However, instituting this process can provide many useful benefits.

Data governance refers to principals and practices that work to maintain a quality pool of metadata and data.

Organizing your metadata and data shows you exactly where your sensitive information is stored. This is the first step to properly protecting it.

Your data governance team is responsible for putting this system together. They will put together a plan that will organize your metadata and data into workable subsets.

2. Put Together a Metadata Policy
You’re not going to know how to classify data if you aren’t able to understand how it fits into the larger picture.

A metadata policy will help a business by explaining the context of their data.

Organizing data_AutoRABIT

This is a strategy that can be tailored to your operations to best suit your needs and inform other strategies to keep your data safe.

Use the following questions to put together a metadata policy of your own:

  • Which types of metadata and data are essential to daily business processes?
  • Which issues can metadata be used to address?
  • What methods will be used to update the metadata?
  • Are there regulatory stipulations that need to be followed?
  • Which types of metadata are needed for specific user groups?

3. Store Metadata On-Prem When Possible
Salesforce is a cloud-based program, which provides a lot of great benefits. However, systems are most secure when they are hosted on the premises of your company. This allows you more control over the access points to your system.

Compromised metadata has the potential to expose information regarding the operations of your business.

There is a tendency to focus on the security of customer data, and for good reason. Not only is this personal information protected through various regulations, a compromised system that exposes customer data leads to a loss of consumer trust.

But protecting this data shouldn’t be your only concern. Metadata needs to be protected as well, and storing it on-prem is a great way to do this.

4. Run System Audits to Pinpoint Weak Spots

You won’t notice any problems in your system unless you go looking for them, or they are exploited by a cybercriminal.
Schedule frequent system audits so you are always aware of the status of your Salesforce platform.

There are many potential issues with your metadata that can be exploited by cybercriminals. It’s in your best interests to find these vulnerabilities before they do.

Protecting your data and metadata is made easier through gathering as much relevant information as you can. And frequent Salesforce platform audits are the best way to be sure you’re always aware of what’s going on with your system.

CodeScan offers another option to verify the validity, structure, and security of your development projects. Static code analysis ensures every line of code is making a positive contribution to your project.

5. Create a Managed Package
As stated by Salesforce:

“A package is a collection of Lightning Platform components and applications that are made available to other organizations through the AppExchange.”

Data security_AutoRABIT

You can increase security levels when releasing objects as a package by granting access to custom types of metadata as well as custom settings designed to protect them.

According to Salesforce:

“Protected custom metadata types and custom settings are not accessible from outside of Apex code that is a part of the same package, and administrators in the subscriber org where the managed package is installed can’t see them.”

6. Utilize Metadata Management
As we discussed earlier, there are various types of metadata. This is why data governance strategies are so important. However, there is another aspect of this that is addressed with a practice called metadata management.

Metadata management aims to further organize the various types of metadata in order to help businesses efficiently discover their data and use it.

And while this helps improve operations, metadata management also plays a role in data security and regulatory compliance. Classifying the metadata and data according to security needs helps organize impact analysis, adherence to privacy standards, and data lineage.

7. Reduce Exposure with Metadata Segregation
We mentioned earlier how Home Depot had their customers’ information compromised because a third party vendor had been hacked. These two sections of their data were connected, which meant a vulnerability in one put the other at risk.

Metadata segregation is a means of rectifying this potential vulnerability by essentially putting barriers between the various sets of metadata.

Metadata and data are classified according to their level of sensitivity and separated from each other. Each segment can be attributed their own level of security measures according to their degree of sensitivity.

This is a system to put a heightened amount of security on the most sensitive information, while also protecting it if a less sensitive section of metadata and data becomes compromised.