Ensuring information security is of utmost importance on the world of business process management. Existing solutions for managing the flows of an organization rarely consider security and, if they actually do, it is always dependant on third-party organizations and tools. Because of this dependability, the process of securing the data flowing in an organization is a non-intuitive and cumbersome routine.
Chapter 1: No one can deny that Business Process Management security issues exist
While Business Process Management (BPM) aims at efficiently creating business value, there is a number of threats that process managers need to consider.
Security hazards such as malware, hacker attacks or data theft pose major threats to the reliable execution of business processes. These may have negative effects on the company value, e.g. on profit, shareholder value or reputation.
This effect largely scales today as we are living in a world where managing the processes and the data flowing in an enterprise is “the key to the kingdom”.
Skepticism of customers about the security of business processes of a company would nullify the potential advantages of BPM, such as the realization of faster or cheaper services. Therefore companies are continuously increasing their resources to protect their business processes against security threats. Companies generally spend a lot of money on security. They seldom do ensure that a security policy is enforced apriori, thus the development process becomes insecure.
Recent ransomware attacks showed the vulnerability of professional e-business environments when hundreds of terabytes of critical data were encrypted during the Petya ransomware spreading, resulting in loses of over 8.7 billion dollars. Additionally, the attacks of hackers may have a major economic impact on companies. Because of the cost of theft, the cost for recovery and for loss of business value and because of the loss of reputation and confidence.
Costs for the recovery of a system after a security breach or for the downtime of it or for a misconfigured value chain due to security problems are insanely huge and have a heavy impact on the cash reserves of a company.
Chapter 2: Identification and classification of security holes
The definition of security safeguards is often a result of current trends in information security. In addition, decision-makers are often driven by fear when defining security safeguards with an attitude of “just-in-case”. As a consequence security decisions provide only punctual solutions and are made without considering the costs and benefits of introducing these measures.
Process managers have to model and assess business processes to assure they fit the security policy of the company or the value chain. Learn more about a cloud security bucket list.
Their challenge is the elicitation of optimal business processes according to the given business strategy. Generally, process managers are not bpm security experts and neglect the integration of security safeguards to the process models of an organization.
Analyzing, planning and implementing security environments are subject for the security departments or the CSO, because security is an area that demands specialized knowledge.
As a result security departments are rather isolated from other corporate core areas. Therefore integrated methodologies for supporting companies in defining security safeguards over the whole business and development life cycle are also rare. Existing approaches focus on parts of the life cycle, either on ensuring the quality of a BPM system and providing the maximum number of features while taking a heavy toll on security, or enforcing strict security measures and heavily maim all BPM features.
It is obvious that there are key elements in the development life cycle that should be reorientated.
Chapter 3: Changing the way security currently works in the flow of data
Security should be considered as a business concept that embraces the development process and goes hand in hand with features implementation and not as a process of posterior bug fixing.
Inefficiencies in the way a business handles processes and data flows should be fixed before going into production level. The mentality of “security patches” should be highly avoided and should only be applied if the testing of the solutions, before going live, has failed in certain areas.
Specifically, in a highly privacy sensitive system such as a BPM software, the way data flows into a system and gets edited should be thoroughly tested even in the worst case scenario.
A provider of such a BPM solution (Learn how to choose the best BPM vendor for your business) should be in the position to apply multiple test cases and at the same time monitor and identify vulnerabilities and misconfigures that could leak important application or user data in third parties.
For example, how is user access defined for all the different roles in a system and how may organization occupy?
Questions like these should be identified and consequently answered by the process managers in cooperation with security analysts and should be leading to the development and implementation of security policies in Business Process Management world.
Chapter 4: Epilogue and why Secure Business Process Management (SBPM) should be standardized as a term
More and more business data will be processed, classified and then will help create applications that automate the processes of an organization within the boundaries of BPMs.
It is obvious that these data should be handled with extreme care while being created, transmitted, stored and processed. All these phases provide a wide attack surface to aspiring violators and thus should always be treated as security-critical processes even if the result of a violation is a simple encrypted mail hijacking.
SBPM, or (S)ecure Business Process Management should emerge and become a trend in the upcoming years. Policies, technical specifications, user training, secure protocol enforcing and data validation should become the norm when dealing with process management.
The letter “S” in the acronym SBPM should not define another layer of cumbersome enterprise-grade security in Business Process Management yet but rather a mindset of developing a product with integrity, confidentiality, and availability as key aspects.