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Importance of data security in managing food and medicine safety records

May 31st , 2022 by

More than ever, organisations are embracing digital transformation and migrating manual systems to digital platforms and data storage. In recent years, this trend has accelerated in relation to food and medicine safety – traditionally managed by hand, these records are now increasingly being stored digitally either on local computers, IT servers or in the cloud.

When choosing the best digital food or medicine safety system, it’s important to balance your goals of increased safety and efficiency with the need for data security. Ideally, the system should tick all these boxes, without one area compromising on any others. So, what are the main options for storing your data digitally, and how do they compare?

On-site data storage (local server or computer)

Many food and clinical organisations first moved away from manual record-keeping before the emergence of cloud-based IoT software solutions, opting for a system where data was uploaded to a local computer or server. At the time, these organisations were trailblazers for making paper records a thing of the past. However, since then cloud-based solutions have come to the fore, highlighting a number of shortcomings to localised data storage.

For data that is stored on a PC, you risk losing your data due to power outages, viruses, and theft. There is also a significant risk of data loss if backup or data protection is not managed properly. Data that is stored on local servers offer a much higher level of data protection, however, to achieve maximum data security a dedicated server would be required, and this would need to be managed in-house. This is a significant commitment for your IT team and has a substantial ongoing financial cost (potentially thousands of dollars per year).

Perhaps the most significant downside to the internal hosting of your food or medicine safety system is the lack of anywhere, anytime access to data. With a local PC or server, there is no web client or browser-based access to your food or medicine safety software. This means that off-site access to data is unlikely, making it difficult to intervene in the event of an incident that compromises your stock.

Cloud-based digital food and medicine safety systems

Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. It means that data can be captured in real-time and accessed from anywhere – increasing visibility and responsiveness to food or medicine safety risks.

However, cloud-based solutions are not without their own risks. Using an untrusted or insecure IoT (Internet of Things) or SaaS (Software as a Service) solution can leave your organisation exposed to malicious activity and could even extend to data security breaches within your on-site network. This might be due to misconfiguration of the cloud platform, poor security protocols resulting in unauthorised access, or insecure interfaces/API. In a worst-case scenario, any breach could result in system-wide exposure and lockdowns.

The last thing you need is for your new digital food or medicine safety system to be the source of a cyberattack. If it is, the solution may have to be abandoned, prompting the need to search for a new one, increasing your costs over the long term. It, therefore, pays to undertake a thorough risk assessment of potential vendors and ensure that the contract with your vendor addresses how your data will be protected from unauthorised access.

Some questions to ask vendors include:

  • Where are the vendor’s servers located and what level of security do they offer?
  • Would your data be hosted on its own server?
  • What kind of wireless network/s will be used on-site to capture and transmit data to the cloud, and what are their associated security measures and protocols?
  • How will breaches of data in transit to the cloud environment be prevented?

MonikaPrime cloud security features

Security is a top concern of our clients, and we have spent many years refining the cybersecurity safeguards of MonikaPrime:

  • Monika uses Microsoft Azure Cloud servers, which are based in Australia and highly regarded for their security protocols. They come with several layers of in-built data and virus protection.
  • RF Zigbee Mesh Protocol is used for Equipment Management rather than Wi-Fi due to the higher level of security that it offers.
  • Monika RF Hubs limit possible breaches of data in transit to the cloud environment through data obfuscation.
  • Data transmission from our hubs is only outbound and not inbound, secured by dedicated ports and user network firewalls/gateways. However, Smart PAs have two ways of communication established by an outbound call.

Need help demonstrating the value of moving to a digital food safety system in your organisation? We can provide a cost-benefit analysis tailored to your operation, plus live demonstrations of our product to your internal stakeholders. Contact us for a free demonstration.

Monika has provided digital food and clinical safety solutions to healthcare and foodservice institutions worldwide since the early 1990s. Our product simulation technology originated from research conducted in an accredited laboratory on 100+ different product types.

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