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Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScan

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScanMetadata security is an important factor in maintaining reliable functionality in your Salesforce environment. A comprehensive approach is essential to preserving the integrity of this important pool of data.

Why It Matters: Metadata exists behind every function in Salesforce. In fact, it defines what we see and how we interact with our data.

  • Configurations and customizations are all driven by metadata.
  • Corrupted metadata leads to errors and can negatively impact overall data security and regulatory compliance.
  • Metadata defines all data relationships and interdependencies in Salesforce.

1. Identify Types of Metadata

The first step to properly addressing metadata security is understanding the types of metadata that exist within your Salesforce environment.

There are a wide variety of metadata types in Salesforce that can be broken into larger categories related to the functions they serve:

  • Data: Examples include custom objects, picklist value sets, and custom applications.
  • Programmability: Examples include flows, Apex classes, and Apex triggers.
  • Presentation: Examples include components, VisualForce pages, and Lightning pages.
  • Custom: Examples will vary depending on the organization, their industry, and their needs.

Understanding the differences between these types of metadata will help you put together a better plan for metadata security. Automated tools can be used to seek and categorize your metadata so nothing slips between the cracks.

2. Perform a Risk Assessment

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScan

Now that you have a better understanding of where your metadata exists within your Salesforce environment, the next step is to get a better understanding of the security risks you face. A risk assessment can be directed toward metadata security by analyzing the systems and settings that touch these various data sets.

A risk assessment improves visibility into how your Salesforce metadata is being used, while also highlighting which sets of data are more sensitive and need to be protected.

These processes are aimed at finding out who is accessing specific types of metadata, when that is happening, where they are when they access your network, and what they do with it once they are there.

Running automated scans of system settings and reviewing the resulting reports from analyzing access logs are great ways to better understand how your system is being used.

3. Analyze Permissions Settings

The number of people with access to various areas of your system has a huge impact on metadata security. Salesforce security posture management involves maintaining a high level of visibility into the inner workings of your platform.

Employ an automated scanner to verify proper permissions settings for team members across your organization.

Team members should only be able to access the data they need to perform their daily duties. Overexposed metadata is much more likely to experience accidental deletions or costly corruptions.

Run these scans on a regular basis and update user permissions and profile settings to ensure the only people with access to your system’s metadata are those who truly need it.

4. Secure Access Points

 

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScanAs with other aspects of Salesforce security posture management, the basics need to be addressed for metadata security. Login screens and integration points are often the first target for cybercriminals looking to gain access to sensitive system data and metadata.

Secure passwords and multi-factor authentication are necessities for every member of your organization with access to your Salesforce environment.

An employee who falls victim to a phishing email has the potential to expose every piece of data, metadata, record, and file that is available according to their profile and permissions.

Incorporating multi-factor authentication drastically reduces the potential for these types of exposures. If anyone gets through both layers of security, having updated permissions settings will minimize the potential damage.

5. Utilize Version Control

Version control is an essential aspect of an optimized DevOps pipeline. It helps multi-developer teams avoid costly mistakes and overwrites while providing accountability for every change to the coding repository.

This critical tool is also a huge help for metadata security. Version control tracks and helps teams manage metadata assets to keep their history of code changes organized. Every version of a DevOps project is stored in a repository so changes can be tracked, referenced, and reused if necessary.

Version control enables teams to monitor the accuracy of each change, which allows them to identify potential issues with their metadata and take the necessary security precautions to protect it.

6. Set a Schedule to Review Security Policies

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScanData security needs are always changing. This can relate to emerging cyberthreats or even evolving compliance requirements. Organizations are always growing and their metadata security strategy needs to grow along with them. Failing to do so can create vulnerabilities that lead to breaches, outages, and falling out of compliance with applicable regulations.

Set a consistent schedule to review existing metadata security policies to ensure your organization’s procedures are up to date to address existing threats and evolving needs.

This goes a long way to support regulatory compliance, but even more important than that, it works to protect the stability of your Salesforce environment. Metadata security is an essential aspect of Salesforce security posture management and must be continually addressed.

7. Provide Security Training to Team Members

External threats are a constant concern for Salesforce security posture management—but they shouldn’t be the only concern. Internal threats such as seemingly innocuous happenings like accidental deletions can have massive impacts on an organization.

A repeated cycle of cybersecurity training keeps best practices fresh in the minds of your team members and works to maintain the integrity of your Salesforce data and metadata.

Here are some examples of factors that should be continuously communicated:

  • The ability to spot and avoid phishing attempts.
  • The importance of strong, frequently updated passwords.
  • Avoiding accessing company applications on personal devices.
  • Applying proper methods of protecting work devices.

This type of ongoing training will ensure your team has the most up-to-date information on how to best protect their devices, data, and Salesforce metadata.

8. Backup Everything

Addressing Metadata in Salesforce Security Posture Management_CodeScan

Even the strongest Salesforce data security strategy isn’t 100% secure—always plan for the unforeseen. The best way to protect your data and metadata is to set a schedule for automated backups.

Frequent backup snapshots of a Salesforce environment will provide the coverage necessary to get your system back online quickly and efficiently to minimize the harmful impacts of an outage.

We recommend setting the frequency to create a backup at the very least once per week. Those in regulated industries will likely need to increase this to once per day, or many even as frequently as once every hour.

The amount of available storage factors into the proper frequency that best fits your organization, as will your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) needs.

Next Step…

Metadata is a critical aspect of a well-functioning Salesforce environment. But how does it play into DevOps processes?

Dig deeper by checking out “The Role of Metadata in DevOps for Salesforce” on our blog.

FAQs

Metadata exists behind the scenes in Salesforce but plays a crucial role in the functionality of your instance. It refers to the configuration and customization settings that define how your environment operates. It includes everything—from the objects and fields that make up the data model and the workflows, triggers, and automation rules that govern business processes to the visual and user interface elements that shape the user experience. Salesforce metadata is stored in XML files and can be accessed and managed through a variety of tools. It allows administrators and developers to make changes to the Salesforce configuration in a structured and repeatable way, and to deploy those changes across different environments, such as development, testing, and production.

Metadata security plays a crucial role in remaining compliant with data security regulations, such as the GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA. Metadata helps organizations protect sensitive data, maintain data privacy, and keep track of how data is collected, used, and shared. It can be used to identify and track sensitive data fields, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers, and ensure they are properly encrypted and secured. Metadata can also be used to monitor and audit user access to data, ensuring that data privacy rules are being followed and any unauthorized access is identified and addressed. Additionally, metadata can help organizations maintain compliance with data retention and deletion requirements by tracking the age and usage of data, and enabling automated data archiving and purging.

Salesforce metadata security starts with locating these sets of data. And while metadata is ever-present in Salesforce, it can be difficult to find. There are a few ways this information can be found that don’t involve time-consuming, manual tasks. Salesforce offers API tools like the ANT Migration Tool that can be used to move metadata to a local filing system for safekeeping. Managed packages are also available on the Salesforce AppExchange to help teams address metadata more easily. And after these processes are run, there might still be some unaddressed metadata. These objects can be searched for manually and moved to their respective places in your storage system. You can learn more about these methods here.

Develop high quality, secure code!

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