Why Do I Need to Protect My Salesforce Metadata?
Data security is no secret—and no small feat. There are numerous types of data and a wide variety of ways in which they need to be protected. It’s easy to focus on the more apparent types of Salesforce system data such as customer information and development data.
But true data security encompasses all the various forms of data that exist within the system.
Metadata mostly lives behind the scenes, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. In fact, metadata plays a huge role in the way your Salesforce environment operates. Losses in this particular data set can result in loss of service, a degradation of operations, and an outright failure in the system.
Metadata must be as enthusiastically protected as any other type of system data.
The general understanding of metadata is that it is “data about data.” And while this is true, it is also a crass reduction of the importance of metadata. A failure to properly protect this information can be very costly.
1. Metadata is a Frequent Target
Your Salesforce system is likely making notes of customer behaviors. These notes help your system to make beneficial inferences about their behavior and trigger useful functionality. And of course, these notes are all types of metadata.
Cybercriminals can use the information stored within metadata to compromise customer information, blackmail the business, and perform other malicious acts.
Proper data security involves protecting the various outlets of information and metadata must be included in this practice. Cybercriminals and hackers will exploit any weakness they find with the goal of accessing your entire system. Metadata is one of these potential vulnerabilities when not properly protected.
2. Accidents Happen All the Time
Threats to your Salesforce system don’t always come from outside your organization. And these aren’t always malicious.
Accidental deletions are one of the most common factors in data loss events.
Metadata is accessible by a variety of team members, and it only takes a small mistake to wipe out connected functionality and customer information.
These mistakes might seem small—simply a misplaced click—but the ramifications can be drastic. Even a spilled drink can lead to a hardware failure that will affect the functionality of a Salesforce system until the metadata is able to be replaced.
3. Retain Functionality
We’ve discussed a couple scenarios that can lead to loss of metadata, now let’s dig a little deeper into the consequences of this loss.
Metadata can be used to create relationships between various objects within your Salesforce environment.
These can be either customer-facing or employee-facing functionalities. But no matter who’s using it, these relationships greatly impact the efficacy of the interface.
Population of certain fields resulting from information input to another field can create widespread problems when this function ceases or connects to another area. Protecting your Salesforce metadata ensures this functionality doesn’t become damaged, compromised, or lost.
4. Consistent User Interactions
Retaining functionality ensures your system continues to operate properly. And while there are many benefits on the backend of the system, possibly the most important benefit is how it affects those on the front end.
The end user—likely a customer—needs to have a good experience when interacting with your platform.
This is the main goal of most development projects. Customizations, new features, and bug-fixes all work toward a more intuitive interface.
Damaged or lost metadata will directly impact these essential functions. Inconsistent functionality degrades the experience of the end-user and will impact their overall satisfaction with your services.
5. Minimizing Redundant Work
Metadata can be created through performed functions or designed with the goal of customizing your Salesforce environment. These customizations can include customized components, Lightning pages, and more/
Lost or damaged metadata will corrupt these customizations and require redundant work for your team members in order to restore them.
This takes the attention of your team members away from progressing through their tasks. Additional time spent restoring past functionalities equates to lost money.
Avoiding this scenario is obviously beneficial, and the way to work toward this is to protect existing metadata.
6. Improper Data Relationships Create Problems
The customizations and existing functionality of your Salesforce system is largely dictated by metadata. We’ve discussed the dangers of these functions becoming lost or damaged, but another danger exists if they were to misfire.
Auto-population of information between various fields can become misdirected and input incorrect information into the wrong functions.
The results of this misdirection can compound if not found early in the process. One mistake will create two and so on. It is essential to maintain the structure of these functions or restore them as soon as possible should be become misaligned.
7. Regulatory Compliance
The rules and stipulations relating to how an institution handles data will largely depend on the industry in which they operate. Some industries—such as healthcare and financial industries—have a much higher likelihood of working with sensitive customer information.
Regulatory guidelines have been put in place to establish responsible practices relating to how this sensitive information should be handled.
Failure to adhere to these regulatory guidelines can result in stiff penalties. It’s essential to be aware of all applicable regulations relating to data security, storage, and handling.
Metadata is often included in the regulated types of information.
8. Reliable Metadata Backups Are Essential
Data security—including that of metadata—requires a certain level of preparation. Companies must be aware of all types of sensitive information and data as well as the guidelines for handling it.
Preparing for a data disaster is the only way to quickly recover should one occur.
A reliable and frequently updated Salesforce system backup—along with the ability to restore it—is essential to a well-rounded data security plan.
Backing up system metadata allows you to quickly recover all lost functionality and customization without taking up too much of your team members’ time.
Metadata provides irreplaceable benefits to your Salesforce system and must be protected as diligently as any other piece of sensitive data or information.