What are the most important components to consider in business intelligence security?

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When it comes to business intelligence (BI) security, there are two questions to consider:
  • Who should get access to what?
  • Can those pofiles be grouped into standard profiles?

My suggestion is to start with group profiling before doing any individual profiling. Also, there are some decisions to be made are around what should the profiles be able to do to the information -- specifically insert/update. Usually, if BI is running against a data warehouse, it is read-only, with some minor exceptions.

As for access to data, except for highly sensitive items like salary (which has highly restrictive access), and unless there is significant downside to an employee having read access to the information, it would usually be granted at the database level. I've seen many redundant and inefficient architectures that divided up data across boxes, just because of the security issue when, in fact, security can be granted at table, view, row and column level. Therefore, even in the largest of BI implementations, only a handful of profiles ever need to be created. It is a problem, but someone(s), namely in IT, will need have access to all information. There is some atest software, however, that has a fix to this where the data is encrypted, even to IT administrators. As for timing, I like to make sure the users are trained before granting access. This forces necessary rigor and saves the build team a lot of headaches later.

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This was first published in May 2007

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