Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

How to ensure security of robotic process automation

Companies today focus on improving the efficiency of business processes, and RPA instruments are becoming more relevant than ever. At the same time, customers are increasingly concerned about the security risks of software robots. It slows down RPA initiatives in businesses. Statistics shows that 30–50% of initial RPA projects fail, and the root cause often lies in the team’s reluctance to implement them.


Customers are concerned about the vulnerability and potential independence of robots because some of them can work without human supervision. Here are the most common fears about RPA:

  • robots can steal users’ personal data or the company’s commercial data;
  • robots can perform unauthorized actions in software and apps such as moving or deleting important information;
  • robots can spy on users.

But is software robotics really that wicked?

Can we trust a software robot?

Software robots emulate human actions. They know when to push a button, download or copy information and move it from one folder to another, and repeat these steps. This makes people believe that robots can function autonomously, which is not entirely true.

RPA is a program that has no thinking function and thus follows a pre-programmed script to perform a limited scope of tasks as prescribed by humans. For example, it can press buttons, recognize text, transfer data between systems, send messages via messengers or perform other simple and routine actions, strictly according to guidelines.

All actions are programmed by humans (e.g. a robotics studio) via an RPA interface. In addition to developing robot scripts, humans can manage access to specific databases or restrict access to classified information or trade secrets. Unlike humans, robots will not try to bypass or dispute restrictions.

Monitoring task performance is convenient with tools like Orchestrator. Designed to centralize software robotics management, they help with various jobs:

  • real-time supervision of robots, by monitoring and recording a robot’s every action or interaction with humans
  • monitoring task results
  • analyzing performance
  • managing employee access.

If required, data can be transferred from Orchestrator to a business intelligence (BI) system and visualized using convenient panels. In visual format, even non-specialists can trace software robots’ logic and notice possible anomalies. But usually it is not even necessary: RPA management programs have tools to record and flag any robot activity that deviates from the script and sabotages tasks.

Finally, before launch, all software robots are tested in a simulated environment, to minimize errors after the official start.

Are software robots vulnerable to hacking?

Information security is a critical issue these days, with companies and systems of any scale subject to cyberattacks on a regular basis. One of RPA’s strengths is that modern software robots are well protected against hacks. The majority of platforms and apps have embedded cybersecurity tools such as encryption, two-factor authentication, password support and strict role-based access control. For example, RPA can be set up to make sure that robots can access a restricted scope of files via secure channels.

Robots being more dangerous than humans is also the wrong mindset. Statistically, 80% of data leaks are still caused by human employees. Almost half of these human-caused leaks are due to human factors such as data transfer errors or weak passwords. Using RPA reduces these risks. Being able to record and keep logs of all robot activity helps to control and prevent any human interference.

With processes and management calibrated correctly, RPA can help organizations protect their data from tampering and reduce human risks.

Earned trust

Technology adoption is happening at an increasingly fast pace and RPA is no exception. Even today, major corporations, industrial companies and governments around the world already trust software robots – and these are organizations with highest data security demands.

  • During the pandemic, the government of Flanders in Belgium announced stimulus for companies experiencing financial hardships. The government used software robots to process 140,000 submitted requests within less than two weeks.
  • The Magnitogorsk Metal Works, one of the world’s largest steel producers, used RPA to automate 32,000 business operations and 20,000 supply monitoring files. The process became less labor-intensive and more transparent.

This speaks for the fact that modern RPA systems are perfectly in sync with the best practices of data management, with minimal deployment risks.  

To summarize, software robots carry very low risks in terms of company security as their activity can be fully monitored and supervised in real time while the robots’ access to classified or commercially critical information is subject to flexible restrictions.

Program errors can be reduced to zero during the robots’ trial period. RPA systems are secure against hacking and have integrated cybersecurity tools. Moreover, software robots can reduce human-caused errors by a wide margin thus significantly boosting the reliability of a company’s IT infrastructure.

Successful RPA adoption cases by major industrial facilities and global companies prove that RPA systems fully respect the best data management practices, with minimal deployment risks.

By Svetlana Anisimova, UiPath CEO in Russia and the CIS

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