Lab Data Security: How to Safeguard Laboratory Data

1 Jun · 5 min read

Lab Data Security: How to Safeguard Laboratory Data

With the digital revolution storming the market, all businesses and organizations relying on digital technology and data must ensure the highest standards of data security.  

Each year, thousands of organizations fall victim to malware, ransomware, and other cyber-attacks. The growing threat of cybercrime and an increasing number of cyber-attacks should work as a wake-up call for these organizations that don’t take lab data security seriously enough. 

To help laboratory owners and managers safeguard valuable data, I’ve put together a guide on how to effectively protect the data stored in your laboratory. 

Why Data Security Is Vital for Laboratories

Every laboratory stores huge amounts of data, such as research results, patient information, and other critical intellectual property. Data is the lifeblood of today’s information-based laboratories. It provides lab technicians with vast knowledge and keeps the labs running.  

Given the large quantity of data collected every single day, it’s crucial for lab managers and stakeholders to consider introducing data loss prevention programs and creating a set of rules and policies to secure data and ensure that it is not lost, or mishandled, or accessed by unauthorized individuals. 

Lack of data security is a threat to any organization and its employees. It makes invaluable information vulnerable to data leaks and hacking attempts and jeopardizes laboratory operations. Whether it’s a malicious attack or an accidental internal leak, only complete dedication to security will protect data from unauthorized individuals. 

Data loss is one of the biggest threats facing modern laboratories and that’s exactly why you should pay undivided attention to lab data security. 

How to Maintain Lab Data Security

Poorly executed, manual processes, outdated systems, or obsolete technology can all contribute to data security problems and diminish lab data security infrastructure. That’s why it’s so important to ensure a comprehensive, versatile approach and establish a strategy to protect your data. 

Here are some practical tips on how to ensure data security in a laboratory. 

New technology

To assess the security level of your lab, you should consider where you currently store and host your data and check whether the system you are using is efficient and secure enough. Hosting your data irresponsibly is the first deadly sin of laboratory security. 

Investing in new technology will not only grant you greater protection of your data but will also provide your team with reliable and productive tools for day-to-day working. If you use an outdated, obsolete system, or even worse, store your data manually, on physical pieces of paper, there’s no wonder why your data ends up lost or leaked. Relying on outdated technology is not only a risk to your data security but it can also slow your team down. 

One of the best ways to increase lab data security is to invest in LIMS, also known as a laboratory management system. As the name itself suggests, LIMS stores and manages your data, providing security features to help you secure the data and protect it from any cyberattacks. Moreover, by incorporating Electronic Lab Notebook, LIMS encrypts all the data, keeping it safe from unauthorized access. 

Data hosting

To ensure the highest security of your data, you should establish whether your chosen data hosting option is the best for your organization. If you feel like your security infrastructure is safe and reliable, you may opt for on-premise hosting. However, if you feel that your lad data security infrastructure is lacking, you may want to consider choosing a cloud-based data storage and entrust your data to a second party. It may come in handy for smaller labs looking for reliable and flexible solutions. 

If you are planning to implement LIMS, make sure to discuss types of hosting with your potential vendor to choose the most convenient and secure option. 

Access security

Modern laboratories use a wide range of systems and applications in their day-to-day work. Many of them offer their own security options and preferences. It’s important to make use of such features to ensure that the security is at its highest level. 

Something as simple as setting a strong access password is enough to ensure first-level security. Often, cybercrime happens just because of simple oversight, such as setting a weak password. 

However, if you need extra security, I would strongly advise you to introduce role-specific access controls and authentication. Role-based access controls allow you to control who can access specific applications and data sets and monitor access history. If you invest in LIMS implementation, you have this option covered. 

Up-to-Date Instruments and Devices

Many instruments and devices used in modern labs operate based on network-based collaboration and data sharing. If you forget to keep the instruments updated, the connection between them and your network can be compromised and make your systems prone to cyber-attacks. Make sure to always keep them up-to-date. 

The same applies to mobile devices used as part of everyday operations, such as tablets, smartphones, or wireless research devices. To protect your devices from unauthorized access, ensure the authentication process to safeguard your network and devices to mitigate the risk of cybercrime. 

Keep Your Data Secure

Unfortunately, there’s no trick when it comes to data security – no single methodology or technology will have it completely covered. That’s why your data security strategy must be comprehensive and use multiple levels of protection. 

Labs should undertake regular assessments of data security risks and come up with an efficient plan to protect their data on multiple levels of protection in hardware, network security, application, and access security. To do so, I would strongly advise you to consider introducing laboratory management systems to keep your data safely stored. 

The article was first published here

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