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Security risk and risk management in robotic process automation (RPA)

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an expedient technology that plans and institutionalizes various process-oriented jobs or tasks. It is known as the main component of digital transformation initiatives. The robots with robotic process automation (RPA) software can improve the quality, accuracy, and productivity of information and agreements while allowing the staff to focus on the more crucial and fulfilling works.

The current digital workforce requires various privileged access and credentials to connect with target systems and various other applications like CRM, ERP, supply chain, logistic systems, and financial systems to perform automated functional . Most of the credentials based cyber-attacks occur due to insecure environments. The risks of cyberattacks are higher if companies deploy remote desktop applications (RDA) robots or unattended RPA using shared credentials. The account credentials that the robot scripts use can dramatically increase the threats if stored insecurely.

Remote process automation (RPA) comes along with the various security risks, such as vital information and data leakages. Depending on the type of business, numerous procedures can be automated efficiently. Automation platforms have access to the various critical confidential data of an organization’s employees, vendors, and customers, such as inventory lists, passwords, usernames, financial information, addresses, and credit card details. So, the security and the governance of the RPA is essential.

Risks in robotic process automation (RPA)

Tool selection risks: with the hype in the market, the robotic process automation (RPA) is considered as a real risk. Various tool vendors in the market claim automation capabilities that provide the opportunity for screen-scraping, which might lead to error if it lacks the full-screen automation techniques. The companies or organizations usually end up choosing the wrong tools for their requirements. The incorrect selection of tools might lead to various security issues in automation.

Robotic process automation (RPA) sourcing risks: using the wrong sourcing model might lead to excessive damage. This type of damages occurs due to various factors such as a wrong consulting partner, cloud data compliance risks, and a lack of internal skills.

Operational or execution risks: deploying the proper operational model is essential to decrease functional or performance issues. The reasons for operational and implementation risks are costly maintenance, not efficient bot usage, and irregular functioning of robots.

Abuse of privileged access: the cyber-criminals or attackers gain unauthorized access to the BOT system to obtain the sensitive user data and to move smoothly within the BOT networks. The malicious software installed inside the BOT system will train the BOT to destroy the high-value sensitive data, disturbing the vital business process.

Disclosure of sensitive data: the cyber-criminals leave the malware or train the BOT systems to store or steal sensitive information. The trained BOT then transfers or uploads vital confidential information to a database through the web or the internet.

Denial of service: sometimes, BOT devices are stopped due to the rapid sequences that result in the exhausting of all the available system resources. The loss of productivity of the BOT is even caused due to the problem of unplanned networks, system outages, or service outages. The services cannot be easily replaced with the help of human labor, which might lead to the security risks in the remote process automation.

Security risk management methods in the robotic process automation


The authority or the organizations prepare the governance framework with the roles and responsibilities for securing the robot or robotic process automation.

The security and the strategy required for robotics process automation within the policies are discussed, and the organization monitors the compliance within the security policies.

The various RPA risk management program can be organized to increase awareness among business users and the organization.

Software and product security best practices for RPA:

Conducting a secure design review that includes data flow analysis will verify the control around security integrations in the RPA system’s authentication, authorization, and input validations.

Performing various security-architecture risk analysis procedures on the selected RPA solutions, namely BOT creation, running, and controlling, will help to find out the architecture errors present in the product.

Ensuring the scheme or the techniques used for the development of the BOT devices does not have any security faults or considerations; it will help the RPA systems to function without any security issues.

Using the security scanning tools while creating the BOT to scan the code present or used in the backend will help the organization to know about the security vulnerability.

Dynamic testing or security fuzzing technology can also be used to identify the security flaws present in the system.

Digital identity and access best practices for RPA:

Managing the user access privileges and duties allow the security matrix to authorize the BOT system to perform tasks assigned to them.

Implementing the security control to protect credentials during the robotic run time sections will support the secure login to the robotic process automation interface.

Enforcing passwords consistently through the robotic sections and centralizing the robotic identity access management process prevents the leakage of credentials.

Monitoring the sensitive information used by the RPA will verify compliance with usage policies.

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