Data Warehouse

A data warehouse is one of the more common topics in the IT industry. The collected data is an important source of valuable information for many companies, thus increasing their competitive advantage. More and more companies use Business Intelligence (BI) systems in their work, which quickly and easily support the analytical processes. BI systems are based on data warehouses and we will talk about them in today’s article.

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a tool that collects and stores large amounts of data from different sources in one place. The collected data is structured and stored in a thematic division. It enables reporting, as well as conducting analyses, which constitute an important source of information in enterprises, thus supporting the process of making business decisions. It is worth mentioning that data warehouses are only used to read data. Therefore, the user cannot modify them.

Characteristics

Taking into account the definition of a data warehouse we can read out four main features that characterize it. These are:

  • subject orientation – the collected data is organized around main topics such as sales, product, or customer;
  • integrity – the stored data are uniform, e.g. in terms of format, nomenclature, and coding structures. They are standardized before they reach the warehouse;
  • timeliness – the data comes from different time frames, it contains both historical and current data;
  • non-volatile – the data in the warehouse remains unchanged. The user cannot modify it, so we can be sure that we will get the same results every time.

Architecture and operation

In the architecture of a data warehouse, four basic components can be distinguished. Data sources, ETL software, the appropriate data warehouse, and analytical applications. The following graphic shows a simplified diagram of that structure.

Illustrative diagram of data warehouse operation

As can be seen from the graphic above, the basis for building each data warehousing system is data. The sources of this data are dispersed – they include ERP, CRM, SCM, or Internet sources (e.g. statistical data).

The downloaded data is processed and integrated and then loaded into a proper data warehouse. This stage is called the ETL process, from the words: extract, transform and load. According to the individual stages of the process, data is first taken from available sources (extract). In the next step, the data is transformed, i.e. processed in an appropriate way (cleaning, filtering, validation, or deleting duplicate data). The last step is to load the data to the target database, i.e. the data warehouse.

As we mentioned earlier, the data collected is read-only. Users call data from the data warehouse using appropriate queries. On this account, obtaining data is presented in a more friendly form, i.e. reports, diagrams, or visualizations.

Main tasks

As the main task of a data warehouse, analytical data processing (OLAP, On-Line Analytical Processing) should be distinguished. It allows making various types of summaries, reports, or charts presenting significant amounts of data. For example, a sales chart in the first quarter of the year, a report of products generating the highest revenue, etc.

The next task of that tool is decision support in enterprises (DSS, Decision Support System). Taking into account the huge amount of information that is in the data warehouses, they are a part of the decision support system for companies. Thanks to advanced analyses conducted with the use of these databases, it is much easier to search for dominant trends, models, or relations between various factors, which may facilitate the management’s decision-making.

Another of the tasks of these specific databases is to centralize data in the company. Data from different departments/levels of the company are collected in one place. Thanks to that everyone interested has access to them whenever he or she needs them.

Centralization is connected with another role of a data warehouse, which is archiving. Because the data collected in the warehouse comes from different periods and the warehouse is supplied with new, current data on an ongoing basis, it also becomes an archive of data and information about the company.

Summary

Data warehousing is undoubtedly a useful and functional tool that brings many benefits to companies. Implementation of this database in your company may facilitate and speed up some of the processes taking place in companies. An enormous amount of data and information is generated every day. Therefore, data warehouses are a perfect answer to store this information in one, safe place, accessible to every employee. If you want to introduce a data warehousing system to your company, check our productData Engineering.

Bibliography

[1] https://www.oracle.com/pl/database/what-is-a-data-warehouse/

Safety of IoT devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is entering our lives at an increasingly rapid pace. Control lighting or air conditioning from the smartphone position is slowly becoming an everyday reality. Also, many companies more and more willingly introduce to their processes the solutions provided by IoT. According to the latest forecasts, by 2027 41 billion IoT devices will be connected to the network. There is no doubt that the Internet of Things offers great opportunities. At the same time, there is no denying that it can also bring whole new threats. So it is worthwhile to be aware of the dangers that may be associated with the use of IoT.

The total number of device installations for IoT is growing every year
Img 1 The total number of device installations for IoT

Threats

Hacking attacts

An extensive network of Internet-connected devices creates many opportunities for hacking attacks. The more such devices, the larger the space that could potentially be attacked. It is enough that the attacker will hack into one of these devices and gain access to the entire network and data in an instant, that flows through it. This poses a real threat to both individuals and the whole of companies.

The loss of data

The loss of data is one of the most frequently mentioned threats posed by the Internet of Things. Improper storage of sensitive data such as name, address, PESEL (personal identity number), or payment card number can expose us to the danger of being used in an undesirable way for us (e.g. taking credit, stealing money). Moreover, based on data collected by home IoT devices the attacker can easily learn about the habits of the household. For instance, the hours when nobody is staying at home may enable him to effectively carry out a burglary.

Botnet attact

Another threat is the risk of the IoT device being included in the so-called botnet. The botnet is a network of infected devices that hackers use to carry out various types of attacks. Most often a common botnet attack is a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service), which consists of combining the website with multiple devices at the same time, which can lead to its temporary unavailability. Another example of how a botnet works are the use of infected devices to send spam or produce a cryptovalent. All these attacks are carried out in a manner unnoticeable to the owner of the device. It is enough, that we click on a link from an unknown source that may contain malware and unconsciously we become part of a botnet attack.

Attacts on machines

From the company’s point of view, attacks on industrial robots and machines, which are connected to the network can be a significant threat. Taking over control of such devices can cause serious damage to companies. For example, hackers can change the production parameters of a component in such a way that there will not be caught right away, but it will make this component useless. Attackers can also cause disturbances in the operation of machines or interruptions in energy supply. These activities are a serious threat to companies, that could suffer huge financial losses as a result.

How can we protect ourselves?

It may seem that it is impossible to eliminate the dangers of using IoT technology. However, there are solutions that we can implement to increase the safety of our devices. Here are some of them:

Strong password

An important aspect of the security of Internet of Things devices is the password. Very often users use simple passwords, containing data that are easy to identify (e.g. name or date of birth). It often happens that the password is the same for several devices, making it easier to access them. Also, sometimes users do not change the standard password that is set by the manufacturer of the device. It is therefore important that the password is not obvious. Increasingly often, manufacturers are forcing users to use strong passwords by setting the conditions they must meet. It is demanded to use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. This is a very good practice that can increase security on the network.

Software update

Another way is to regularly update the software used by IoT devices. If manufacturers will detect a vulnerability in their security, they can protect users from a potential attack. They can provide them with a new version of the software that eliminates the deficiencies detected. Ideally, the device should be set for automatic system update, so then we can be sure that the device always works on the latest software version.

Secure home network

Securing your home network is as important as setting a strong access password. In this case, it is also recommended to change the original password set by the router provider. Additionally, the home Wi-Fi network should use an encrypted connection such as WPA2-PSK.

Consumptionary restraint

Before buying a given device, it is good to consider whether we need it. There is no point in treating it more just like a cool gadget. Let’s remember that every subsequent IoT device in our environment increases the risk of a potential attack. So let’s buy only the devices we really need.

All the above-mentioned actions are the ones, which should be taken by users of the Internet of Things. However, the manufacturer of the device also takes care of its protection. The encryption of network messages, which secures the interception of data during transport is on its side. The most commonly used protection is the TLS protocol (Transport Layer Security). TLS protocol helps secure the data that is transmitted over the network. In addition, the manufacturer of the device should regularly check its security features, so that it will be able to catch any gaps and eliminate them. It is also good to keep the devices secure from the beginning before automatic connection to open public networks.

In June 2019 the Cybersecurity Act was established, which aims at strengthening the cyber security of EU Member States. It regulates the basic requirements to be met by products connecting to the network, which contributes to the safety of these devices. Rapid IoT development makes more similar regulations, which will significantly contribute to maintaining global cyber security.

Summary

The advent of IoT technology has brought a huge revolution, both for individuals and for the whole of companies. Although the Internet of Things brings many benefits and facilitations, you must also be aware that it may pose a threat to the security of our data or ourselves. However, it is worth remembering that compliance with a few of our principles can make a significant contribution to the safety of your IoT equipment.

Bibliography

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-report?IR=T

[2] https://medium.com/read-write-participate/minimum-standards-for-tackling-iot-security-70f90b37f2d5

[3] https://www.cyberdb.co/iot-security-things-you-need-to-know/

[4] https://www.politykabezpieczenstwa.pl/pl/a/czym-jest-botnet

[5] https://www.cyberdefence24.pl/rewolucja-w-cyberbezpieczenstwie-ue-akt-ws-cyberbezpieczenstwa-wchodzi-w-zycie