Digital laboratory notebooks have become essential tools for documenting research, organizing notes, and storing data in a searchable way.
While digital laboratory notebooks, or ELNs, are often touted as the future of the laboratory, the transition from paper to digital hasn’t always gone as smoothly as expected.
Does digitalizing research notes open the doorway to cyber-attacks? Like any other system, are the systems being used in labs secure?
In this post, we will look at the dangers, consequences, and precautions that should be taken when using a digital lab notebook.
Do Cloud Solutions Threaten our Digital Lab Notebooks, or are They Advantageous to our Data?
Digital clouds are major threats and, at the same time, a great advantage to data-saving practices. You may be using email, Dropbox, Google, or any similar app. All this is software found on the cloud.
The use of the cloud to save data is similar to debit, credit, and chequing bank account cards earlier before. Instead of carrying and saving around the shift, people were required to start using bank cards.
Today, experts of cloud provider’s primary aim is to keep encrypted data in high security and advanced data center to prevent unauthorized access.
Is it Possible to Lose Your Digital Laboratory Notebooks Saved in the Cloud?
Yes, you can lose data the same way you can lose data from your computer, server, or smartphone.
Technology is not indestructible. Your figures can be destroyed indefinitely by an outsourced provider or internal IT department. Nothing is impossible; however, by utilizing cloud-based technologies, the expenses and harm might be reduced.
Can the Risk of Losing Digital Laboratory Notebooks be Minimized?
Ask the development and support staff where the information is stored if you use or consider using web-based applications to manage and save your data.
You should also inquire if they have their servers or do, they rely on large cloud providers like Google or Amazon. They should be open and honest with you about data security, retrieval, and backup in the event of an emergency.
We tend to feel that the digital laboratory notebook saved on our personal computers is the most secure.
The truth is that the majority of the researchers aren’t true security or computer experts. As a result, our computers are most likely to have viruses or other malware that we are unaware of. Anti-virus software is effective, but it is not impenetrable.
Security protocols are in place at established cloud vendors. They are security professionals who ensure that your data is safe. So, if something goes wrong in this case, you are not alone.
They’ll have to take care of it for you. It will be even better if the cloud services you’re using have a partnership with a well-known cloud provider, and something goes wrong, they’ll both be responsible for it. So, you’re all set.
However, if something goes wrong with your laptop or the system at your institution, you’re on your own.
It’s time to recognize that losing data from your PCs or servers, whether due to theft, technical issues, hackers, or viruses, is easier than losing data from Google or Amazon cloud, Google, or other services.
The truth is, if you have sad vital in the cloud, even if your laptop is physically stolen, no one will be able to access it.
Can the Use of an Open Web-Based Software Source Put My Digital Laboratory Notebook at Bigger Risk of Being Hacked?
On the contrary, the purpose of a secured system is to prevent the entrusted information from unauthorized access, not to hide its technical specifics.
Furthermore, because the source code of open-source software is available to the public, anyone can review and enhance it.
As a result, compared to restricted software, where source review is generally confined to an internal group of engineers, it is easier to find potential defects and security problems. Open platform web-based software is freely available, making it a great choice.
We may call it self-contained. This signifies you are not bound to a single software vendor or owner. Even better, the research community as a whole is free to create add-ons, correct the software’s flaws, and maintain them.
This software application is peer-reviewed in some ways. You can get help and communication with the development team that produced the software in the first place, but you are not reliant on them. Because of its open nature, open-source software saves a lot of money.
However, don’t confuse the accessibility of the software’s source with a higher risk of it being hacked or your data being stolen.
Connie has been working within the cyber security industry for almost 10 years now, specialising in penetration testing or more specifically web application pen testing. She believes that everyone online should have access to this information and strives to provide people with the knowledge they need to begin within the industry and for others to stay safe online.