Information Security and Its Beneficial Role in Warehousing

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Move Beyond Scratching the Surface

If you think information security only applies to encrypting sensitive data and protecting against data breaches, what would you think if I told you that you were only scratching the surface of information security?  I’ll tell you now, that’s the case; keeping information secure from prying eyes is typically the first thing that comes to mind for most people concerning the topic. However, when looking at information security as a whole, it is typically broken down into three main goals: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

So, while most people have an idea that covers confidentiality, let’s take a deeper look at each of those goals and how it’s important to keep these goals at the forefront in a warehouse setting and see how Exacta, Bastian’s software suite, can help you reach these information security goals.

Availability

warehouse management systemsAvailability is likely to be the goal that most people don’t consider when they hear the term information security. If only considering keeping information secure, wouldn’t making it less available keep that information more secure? Not exactly.

Information should be secure and only available to those that need it, but availability in terms of information security is more concerned with being able to access the data and systems when needed.  Therefore, any network outages, power outages, or any other type of disruption when you are unable to access the information or IT systems compromise information security.  An organization’s information security stance should promote business objectives and ensure that critical business functions and information are available at all times during normal operating hours.  Any disruptions and downtime will eventually lead to undesired consequences such as loss in customer satisfaction and reflections on the company’s bottom line.

Bastian Solutions strives to provide our customers with data systems that are robust and meet availability requirements.  We have worked with many different types and sizes of systems ranging from small with a few servers and connected workstations all the way up to virtual environments and fully redundant systems in a clustered environment offering real time fail over capabilities.

Additionally, we can provide regular data backup services and/or work with your database analysis team to ensure that in the event of a data loss, we’re able to recover required data.  Whether working with an IT team that already has a plan for implementing the new system or providing recommendations from scratch, we have the experience to put together a system that can provide your business with the availability it needs.

Integrity

Another important component required to ensure information security is the integrity of the data within the system.  It is important that the data a business is using is accurate. Protections should be in place to prevent accidental deletion of data and ensuring that modification of the data is allowed only to those who have been authorized to modify the data.

This is similar to confidentiality except that some users may have read-only access to some data but not have authorization to update or modify the data. Similarly, for different functions within normal operation, only users trained for certain functions and processes should have access to complete those functions.

Our Exacta software suite has features in place to protect the integrity of the data in the system.  For the various processing modes offered in the suite, managers are able to create groups of employees that have access to perform specific actions.  For example, you may have a group of employees that perform picking operations and separate groups of employees that are authorized to perform inventory and cycle count adjustments. By restricting employees to these groups, managers can be sure employees are only able to perform those duties once they have completed necessary training.

Additionally, Exacta provides auditing capabilities, providing non repudiation.  In the event a supervisor needs to look up the history of an order as it traveled through the warehouse, Exacta keeps track of interaction with this order to show which operators picked it, packed it, etc.

Confidentiality

Exacta Software screenMost people have a good understanding for the role confidentiality plays in the warehouse. With more news stories and headlines covering information security and data breaches, businesses should take care to ensure any sensitive data they store remains safe. At the most primitive level in a warehouse setting, users of the system should only have access to data required by their job function – known as “need to know.”

For example, a user tasked with stocking product to locations in the warehouse for replenishment doesn’t “need to know” any details such as customer name, address, or credit card information about a customer in order to perform replenishment duties.

On the other hand, operators who perform packing and shipping tasks will likely need to have access to customer name and address.  Lastly, any billing information including credit card data should only be accessible to those in the billing department that handles processing payment.

At Bastian, we have developed Exacta with the concept of “need to know” in mind. Whether using our receiving, picking, packing, or any other modules, our goal is always to only show the pertinent information required by the operator to fulfill his or her duties. An added bonus in keeping unrelated information out of reach, is making warehousing workflows more efficient.  In the design and development process, we strive to show only the information and steps necessary to complete the given task.  Consequently, users don’t have to dig through processing screens filled with lots of data when only a subset of the data is needed. This allows users to complete their tasks quickly, while still providing all relevant information needed.

Visit our website to learn more about Exacta: Supply Chain Software or contact us to see how we can help you improve information security in your warehouse.

Kyle Creekmore is a senior software engineer for Bastian Solutions' Software division located in Louisville, Ky. He received Bachelor’s degrees in Business Management Informations Systems and Mathematics as well as a Master’s in Information System Security from University of the Cumberlands. Kyle is a certified MCSD – Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer. During his time at Bastian, Kyle has performed development in most of the modules in the Exacta supply chain software suite, including both internal interactions and external integrations to outside systems and automation.

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