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10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScan

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScanMetadata dictates the structure of numerous essential functions in a Salesforce environment. Failing to properly protect it can lead to a variety of harmful consequences.

Why It Matters: Related fields, data descriptions, configurations—Salesforce metadata does a lot behind the scenes. These essential data sets can be damaged if they aren’t properly handled and protected.

  • Data can be routed to the wrong container if metadata relationships are broken.
  • Failing to protect sensitive metadata can result in falling out of compliance with data security regulations.
  • Repairing disconnected metadata fields is a waste of time and money.

1. Update Profile/Permission Settings

Every person who has access to a data set increases the chances of a costly error occurring that could negatively impact the data—including metadata. Human error is the main cause of data loss, so it’s essential to limit the number of team members who can access data to only those who need it to perform their work.

Use a policy scanner to automatically verify proper profile and permission settings for your team members.

These permissions need to be updated whenever a new team member is onboarded or an existing team member is given a new role. Limiting access to metadata is an easy way to significantly increase security.

2. Ensure Strong Code in New Updates

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScan

Faulty code leads to problematic applications and updates. The resulting misfires can corrupt metadata structures, which creates massive headaches for users, and a lot of lost time as teams work to repair the damage. Proper coding structures guarantee clean applications and updates and avoid negatively impacting the product.

Static code analysis enables developers to find and fix any errors the moment they are written, eliminating the threat of faulty code in the final update.

Even the best developers are liable to make a mistake. This automated DevOps tool finds the inevitable errors, so they can be easily fixed.

3. Implement a Full Data Governance Strategy

Data governance refers to the methods and standards a team uses to ensure a high-quality pool of data is maintained. This includes a dedicated team with specific tasks for organizing and protecting certain Salesforce data. Strict and continuous attention is necessary. Falling behind on governance principles could potentially compromise an organization’s data integrity.

Metadata must also be included in this strategy to guarantee total coverage of the organization’s Salesforce environment.

Simplified planning, regulatory compliance, accountability, and much more can be gained from a comprehensive data governance strategy. Visit here to learn more about how to get a program like this set up.

4. Strengthen User Access Controls

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScanAnother method of controlling who can access your system’s metadata begins at the very first point a user interacts with your Salesforce environment: login portals. Profile and permission settings are meant to be put in place to protect your metadata from your team members. Access controls can be put in place to protect your metadata from external threats.

Utilize multifactor authentication and communicate strong password best practices to your team members.

These passwords should also be changed on a regular basis, such as every 60 days. Fresh, complicated passwords go a long way to secure a Salesforce environment. Combining this with multifactor authentication makes your system barriers almost impenetrable.

5. Migrate Data with Parent/Child Relationships

Salesforce metadata often links together various fields or other types of data. And when metadata sets are migrated, these relationships need to be preserved to avoid misfires in the new environment. Data loss, corruption, and falling out of compliance with data security regulations are all possible consequences when metadata dependencies are not properly protected.

A Salesforce migration tool with metadata capabilities is needed to migrate complete data sets—including metadata—to new environments without risking failures.

Protecting metadata in Salesforce means paying close attention to how it is handled. Migrations are great ways to save time, but they need to be done properly to avoid complicating future processes.

6. Leverage Version Control

Working with metadata in Salesforce can be complicated. The confusion continues to grow along with the size of the development team. Multiple people making changes to a single update creates the potential for code overwrites and contradictory commands. Metadata entanglements can result when these changes are not meticulously tracked and managed.

Version control is an essential aspect of managing a multi-developer team to keep changes to both the code and metadata straight.

This DevOps tool adds personal signifiers and time stamps to every update made by each developer, making it much easier to trace back issues so they can be more easily fixed.

7. Use Developer Sandboxes

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScanWorking within sandboxes enables developers to experiment without risking negative effects to the main coding repository. This benefit also applies to Salesforce metadata. Multiple developers working in the same environment are prone to introducing changes to the metadata that contradict the work of a fellow team members, leading to issues.

Developer sandboxes isolate the actions of each developer so they can go through proper testing channels before merging to the main repository and avoid damaging metadata.

Limiting exposure through isolation reduces the chances of a simple mistake having wide-ranging impacts on a Salesforce environment.

8. Maintain Strong Security Settings

The configuration of your Salesforce environment can either help or hinder your metadata protection efforts. These data sets need to be protected as vigorously as any other type of sensitive Salesforce data. Failing to enact and maintain strong security settings can result in falling out of compliance with data security regulations and damaging effects on daily functionality.

An automated scanner can be utilized to check security settings against compliance mandates and other internal standards for data security.

Visibility over access logs, permission settings, and more empowers team members to address any vulnerabilities related to metadata and reinforce protective structures.

9. Measure Progress with Reports and Dashboards

10 Ways to Protect Metadata in Salesforce_CodeScanAs we said earlier, visibility is a major aspect of properly protecting metadata. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. And when problems continue over an extended period of time, the repercussions grow exponentially.

Schedule automated reports and regular intervals and analyze them for red flags such as unauthorized access, exports, or suspicious deletions.

Performing internal audits helps your team fix any issues before they get out of hand. Those in regulated industries will see tremendous benefits from performing their own audits before a government agency steps in.

10. Provide Continuous Training

Human error is the main threat to metadata security. Team members are tasked with addressing repetitive duties, which inevitably leads to mistakes. But something as simple as creating a weak password can also have huge ramifications if an account gets hacked.

These types of problems can usually be solved with clear communication and periodic training to ensure everyone is aware of the organization’s expectations.

Our team members are our greatest asset, and this value is magnified when everyone is on the same page for security. Protecting metadata equates to safeguarding the functionality of your Salesforce environment. Keeping these 10 practices in mind will secure your metadata, data, and entire Salesforce platform.

Next Step…

A thorough understanding of metadata provides the prerequisite knowledge you need to fully protect it.

Read “What is Metadata in Salesforce?” for a refresher—or a complete explanation—of the most important aspects of this critical data set.

FAQs

Metadata is related to various types of Salesforce data but with some differences in function and structure. Metadata defines the structure and function of data. Date created, edits, size, location—these types of data attributes are contained within certain sets of metadata. The function of Salesforce data such as automatic form fills and related fields are also dictated by metadata. These processes occur in the back end of a Salesforce environment while data is what users see in the everyday interface of Salesforce.

Salesforce metadata can be found in four different ways. The most common way to locate metadata is to use a metadata API tool. This tool can be used “to retrieve, deploy, create, update, or delete customization information.” The ANT Migration tool is used to leverage metadata API in Salesforce. Managed packages are also available to help users find certain types of metadata. And while it can be tedious and isn’t always necessary, Salesforce users can also manually search for metadata. Finding this information is essential for properly configuring backups and protecting your metadata relationships. Learn more about these processes here.

Failing to back up Salesforce metadata leads to data security vulnerabilities, improper functionality, and an increased risk of falling out of compliance with regulatory requirements. Metadata needs to be included in scheduled data backup snapshots. The frequency of these backups depends on the size of the organization and the industry in which it operates. Regulated industries like banking require more frequent updates, sometimes up to multiple times per day. Smaller organizations can get away with less frequent snapshots, but those who capture the entirety of their Salesforce environment on a regular basis will be better prepared for a data disaster.

Develop high quality, secure code!

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