Protecting Your ELN Software from Cyberattacks
The recent hack of Sony Pictures by a group called the “Guardians of Peace” with ties to North Korea is a reminder that every company, big or small, is vulnerable to cyberattacks. This may be particularly concerning to laboratories that have adopted an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) and store the bulk of their intellectual property and data in an electronic format. Some may be asking whether their vital information is vulnerable to a similar attack.
The answer to this question may depend on the security configurations in place over both the network and the ELN software. To ensure that your intellectual property and data are secure from an attack, it’s important to ask your security administrators the following questions:
- Have access controls been set up to restrict or control access to sensitive data?
Most commercial ELN software packages have access controls that limit or restrict access to sensitive data. This adds another layer of security over key data to ensure that information is protected. If this feature is available within your ELN software but not turned on, you may want to consider using it.
- Does the network and ELN software enforce strong passwords?
One of the interesting aspects of the Sony Pictures hack is that it was partially perpetuated because of the lack of strong password configurations at the company. Apparently a number of passwords were set to be “123456” or simply “password.” This can be easily prevented by turning on password settings that force users to set passwords to a minimum length and include numbers/characters/uppercase letters. In addition, the security can be configured so that these passwords are changed on a consistent basis. If you are not currently using password configurations, turn it on today.
- Have laboratory personnel been instructed regarding safe computer usage?
Things like email and the Internet are wonderful tools with which to research and communicate with other scientists. However, they also present a possible vulnerability if users are not properly instructed regarding potential threats. Lab employees need to be instructed on the proper handling of strange email attachments, links from unknown senders and sudden requests to change or provide a password. Unless employees are educated on how to detect sophisticated attacks like phishing, they may fall victim to it.
- Are security basics like regular backups and virus software installed?
According to McAfee, a computer security firm, there has been a huge spike in malicious software (known as malware) over the past year. The company identified approximately 100 million pieces of malware within the last year compared to 200 million in the previous decade. As the threats continue to grow, there is an even greater need for antivirus software.
Along with antivirus software is the need to restore data if something does go wrong. Backup software creates a duplicate copy of the data and stores it off-site in case the primary copy is compromised. Duplicating the information ensures that if a virus or other malware were to strike, the clean system could be restored relatively quickly and easily.
Although the threat of cyberattacks is growing, simple countermeasures can be taken to mitigate or even eliminate the risk. Implementing access controls, strong passwords, virus software, and educating users about risks can help protect your ELN software from the threat of a cyber assault.
For more information regarding the security features available with the BIOVIA Notebook software, please visit our website today.