The ELN you decide to use should be just as secure as it is accommodating to your specific needs. There is no shortage of Electronic Lab Notebook Software out there, but no two options are ever alike in terms of the data security they can guarantee. Anything less, readily connotes your data getting compromised, which in turn directly translates to losses.
How exactly can a company that offers laboratory notebook software give the seal of security to its product? Well, what is good is that most lab notebook software are innately more secure than their traditional paper-based counterparts. Not completed
But, of course, there are simply options out there that shine better in the said fundamental factor. Below, we have shared a couple of pointers you should keep in mind to ensure you pick the ones that prioritize data security.
What Are the Data Security Measures that Can be Applied in an ELN?
To help you decide, you do not need to look further than the layers of security that companies use on an electronic lab network. Fundamentally, an ELN should be able to put protective layers in place after extracting, archiving, and storing the files that users create over time.
What are these protective layers? More or less, they are directly influenced by the following factors:
The hosting server used by the ELN can already greatly determine overall data security. For one, Microsoft Azure’s cloud servers are known for the stringent security layers they have in place. It uses hundreds of datacenters. Each one has multi-layered protections that help decrease any kind of unauthorized access.
The platform is also known for the plenty of leeway it provides its customers with controlling their security. It is also reputed for its outstanding intelligence network that can mitigate and prevent cyberattacks before they’re even executed.
Cloud storage is actually the gold standard when it comes to this because of its scalability and the amount of automatic backups inherent in it. Cloud-based ELN makes data replication and redundancy equally hassle-free. Such perks are hard to do without considering the glaring downsides of obsolete alternatives like on-premise data storage.
Data encryption serves as another reliable way to ensure any kind of file is naturally protected from external attacks and interference. For instance, some platforms use AES 256-bit encryption to keep their data communication security topnotch. AES-256 is particularly praised for its relative immunity to brute force attacks.
Any ELN service provider that adheres to robust standards of encryption should be one of your top choices for this reason. All the better if they can provide certification for their data centers in this regard.
Whether it is double or triple backups, expect ELN providers to be thorough when it comes to storing your data. There is also the matter of frequency of backing up the data. Better if it is done daily, with additional being done every month — thus, the term double backups.
Of course, other companies take this step further by replicating the files and transferring them to different locations in various data centers. Another form of backup method is one that’s done at a more local level. Users, for example, would be able to export their data locally. First, it will be converted to a common format like .pdf so that it can be read even without using the Electronic Lab Notebook software.
Do beware of ELN companies that charge you for locking or backing up your data. You shouldn’t have to pay additional money just to export or backup your data. Worse, there are actually services that lock your data using a paywall. Avoid them like the plague!
- Two-Factor Authentication
There is also no shortage of electronic lab notebooks that rely on two-factor authentication. This type of authentication has been found to deter plenty of hacking attempts through the extra layers of login security they’re able to provide.
It may lengthen the login time a bit since you’ll often be asked to enter a code to give a proof of your identity. However, many ELN users have reported that they feel far safer with this additional security measure in place.
- Limiting User Access
Laboratories tend to be comparable to medium-sized firms that have to handle many employees. This necessitates the need to have control over each experiment or study’s privacy settings so you can select the pertinent members who will have exclusive access to it.
The same goes for the ability to give specific users viewing or access privileges. Any ELN that gives you the freedom to do either of both of these earns a ready checkmark.
- Security Certifications
While not exactly a protective measure in themselves, these certifications prove that the ELN provider has met industry standards. This is especially true if they are provided by reputable organizations like OWASP/SANS25.
These are foundations that have been known for their tireless efforts to increase software security worldwide. It is safe to say that companies that have their seal of approval are safe options if data security is one of your top priorities.
Most companies that provide ELN solutions do not take data security lightly. They would not last long in the field otherwise. While that should already give you a small measure of relief, it still won’t hurt to take the extra steps to pinpoint the ones that take security a step further.
Considering the lingering problem of security in the digital sphere, it is almost always a wise move to partner with companies that are well aware of the persistent threat of these vulnerabilities.