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The Importance of Role-Based Access Control in a Data Lake

Read Time: 3 minutes

Thanks to the data storage capabilities now offered through cloud hosting, data lakes have an unlimited ability to hold vast amounts of variable data. This storage capacity offers greater opportunities to discover insights through deep analysis. However, digging through that data to find the relevant pieces can be arduous. If employees stand at the proverbial edge of the data lake, they may decide that they don’t have the time or ability to find that needle in a haystack. 

One factor contributing to this issue may be data management. For instance, if file types, naming conventions and data lineage standards are not set, sorting through the data becomes insurmountable. However, businesses can establish data lake roles to limit the data a specific user must wade through. Why is role-based access control in a data lake important? 

Here are some of the benefits of data lake roles and limited permissions:

1. Role-Based Access Control Limits Exposure to Data

One of the first benefits of data lake roles is limiting exposure to the amount of data available. If certain data files are unrelated to a user’s position within the company, they can be hidden from view. Limiting the field of data available makes searching easier. If users do not have access to the data that they need, they can always request permission from the administrator. Role permissions can always be changed to better accommodate the employees within your company.

Permissions are assigned based on roles or groups, rather than individual accounts. When a user account is introduced to the data lake, it’s assigned a role or added to an existing group. Each role has predetermined access to resources and features within the data lake, such as different data sets. This approach simplifies data lake management by eliminating individual users with varying levels of access in favor of role-based permissions. It will also keep specific roles from becoming a security threat.

2. Limiting Exposure to Sensitive Data

Besides limiting the amount of data that a user has access to, it is also important to manage access control for the type of data that each user can view. In addition to proper encryption – while the data is in transit and at rest – access to sensitive data should be limited. There are regulations about safeguarding personally identifiable information (PII), including GDPR and CCPA, that must be followed. 

By distinguishing, classifying and separating sensitive data from other company data, you limit the exposure and data flow of sensitive information. Additionally, data lineage, metadata tagging and tracking user actions will also help to protect sensitive data and identify security concerns quickly. Data management will be particularly important if your business is audited, if you are asked to provide proof of data security, or if a person asks to have their personal information removed from your records.

3. Role-Based Access Control Helps Protect Against Data Breaches

Roles can also help minimize damage caused by a data breach. Because data lakes store data in a centralized location, there is concern over hackers gaining access to all of your company’s important information. 

Besides data encryption and other security measures built into the data lake, user access limitations help seal off potential hackers and limit any adverse repercussions arising from a breach. Businesses can alert users trying to view data that they don’t have proper access and prompt them to contact an administrator for additional access.

Many businesses utilize single sign-on (SSO) connected to Active Directory (AD) to authenticate users. Employees can then connect locally or log in with a VPN. Once the data lake verifies their information, it produces a signature of their identity and role. If an employee is accessing data in your cloud-hosted data lake remotely, it’s critical to secure their connection.

If your business does not have an established data governance plan, it’s time to develop one. Additionally, learning to recognize red flags and establish proper responses to a data breach will help you to react faster and minimize damage.

Implementing Data Lake Roles

Data Lake Roles are not solely meant to limit user access. Instead, they should enable business users to utilize data lakes more efficiently by streamlining analysis and reporting. Any minor inconvenience is worth securing your company’s data and ensuring data privacy compliance.

7T prioritizes security in all of our clients’ development projects, whether that is through GDPR compliance, encryption, multi-factor authentication, blockchain or other preventative measures. Additionally, our product, Sertics, is a highly secure and user-friendly data management platform that provides these benefits. Businesses utilize Sertics for data lake creation, data governance tools, and seamless integrations with Tableau and PowerBI for data visualization.

Data security is worth the investment! To discuss your development project or to request a Sertics demo, contact the team at 7T today.

Steve Parta

Steve Parta is a Director of Business Development at 7T. He has over ten years of experience in sales and management. His specialty is working with 7T's data lake creation and data governance platform, Sertics, as well as its core business of Digital Transformation through custom software development.

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