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Role of ETL in Business Intelligence

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) is a process of extracting data from different data sources; manipulating them according to business calculations; loading the modified data into a different data warehouse. Because of the in-depth analytics data it provides, ETL function lies at the core of Business Intelligence systems. With ETL, enterprises can obtain historical, current, and predictive views of real business data. Let’s look at some ETL features that are necessary for business intelligence.

Extraction Transformation Loading

The Importance of ETL in Business Intelligence

Businesses rely on the ETL process for a consolidated data view that can drive better business decisions. The following ETL features justify the point.

High-level Data Mapping

Leveraging data and transforming them into actionable insights is a challenge with dispersed and voluminous data. Data mapping simplifies database functionalities like integration, migration, warehousing, and transformation.

ETL allows mapping data for specific applications. Data mapping helps in establishing a correlation between different data models.

Data Quality & Big Data Analytics

Huge volumes of data aren’t of much use in their raw form. Applying algorithms on raw data often leads to ambiguous results. It needs structuring, analyzing, and interpreting well to gain powerful insights. ETL also ensures the quality of data in the warehouse through standardization and removing duplicates.

ETL tools combine data integration and processing, making it easier to deal with voluminous data. In its data integration module, ETL assembles data from disparate sources. Post integration, it applies business rules to provide the analytics view of the data.

[Also read: Popular ETL Tools for 2020]

Automatic & Faster Batch Data Processing

The modern-day ETL tools run on scripts, which are faster than traditional programming. Scripts are a lightweight set of instructions that execute specific tasks in the background. ETL also ‘batch’ processes data like moving huge volumes of data between two systems in a set schedule.

Sometimes the volume of incoming data increases to millions of events per second. To handle such situations, stream processing (monitoring and batch processing data) can help in timely decision making. For example, Banks batch process the data generally during night hours to resolves the entire day’s transactions.

Master Data Management

Using ETL and data integration, enterprises can obtain the “best data view” across multiple sources.

How ETL Works?

ETL systems are designed to accomplish three complex database functions: extract, transform and load.

#1 Extraction

Here, a module extracts data from different data sources independent of file formats. For instance, banking and insurance technology platforms operate on different databases, hardware, operating system, and communication protocols. Also, their system derives data from a variety of touchpoints like ATMs, text files, pdfs, spreadsheets, scanned forms, etc. The extraction phase maps the data from different sources into a unified format before processing. 

Data-extraction-in-ETL

ETL systems ensure the following while extracting data.

  1. Removing redundant (duplicate) or fragmented data
  2. Removing spam or unwanted data
  3. Reconciling records with source data
  4. Checking data types and key attributes.

#2 Transformation

This stage involves applying algorithms and modifying data according to business-specific rules. The common operations performed in ETL’s transformation stage is computation, concatenation, filters, and string operations like currency, time, data format, etc. It also validates the following-

  1. Data cleaning like adding ‘0’ to null values
  2. Threshold validation like age cannot be more than two digits
  3. Data standardization according to the rules and lookup table.
Data-transformation-in-ETL

#3 Loading

Loading is a process of migrating structured data into the warehouse. Usually, large volumes of data need to be loaded in a short time. ETL applications play a crucial role in optimizing the load process with efficient recovery mechanisms for the instances of loading failures.

A typical ETL process involves three types of loading functions-

  1. Initial load: it populates the records in the data warehouse.
  2. Incremental load: it applies changes (updates) periodically as per the requirements.
  3. Full refresh: It reloads the warehouse with fresh records by erasing the old contents.

The ETL systems validate the following data loading parameters-

  • The Business Intelligence report on view layer matches with the loaded facts
  • Data consistency between the data warehouse and the history table.
  • Models are based on transformed data and not the raw data from the original databases.

The modern-day ETL applications utilize NoSQL database systems for warehousing. NoSQL systems are suitable for big-data and real-time web-applications. NoSQL executes queries faster than traditional databases and is more memory efficient.

ETL Business Applications

Transactional databases are not enough to resolve complex business queries. Also, dealing with unorganized data formats is more time-taking. ETL can help in obtaining-

  • Memory efficiency
  • Real-time query processing
  • Mapping data historical, current, and predictive data to derive actionable insights
  • Smart data storage and retrieval.

Almost all industries can deploy the benefits of ETL systems. However, businesses like banking, insurance, customer relations, finance, and healthcare are the early adopters of this technology.

If your business needs intelligent data processing, we’re here to listen to your requirements. Drop us a word at hello@mantralabsglobal.com to know about our previous works on developing ETL applications.

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12 Tips To Secure Your Mobile Application

Cyber attacks and data theft have become so common these days especially when it comes to mobile applications. As a result, mobile apps that experience security breaches may suffer financial losses. With many hackers eyeing to steal customer data, securing these applications has become the number one priority for organizations and a serious challenge for developers. According to Gartner’s recent research, Hype Cycle for Application Security, investment in application security will increase by more than two-fold over the next few years, from $6 billion this year to $13.7 billion by 2026. Further, the report stated, “Application security is now top-of-mind for developers and security professionals, and the emphasis is now turning to apps hosted in public clouds,” It is crucial to get the fundamental components of DevOps security correct. Here are the 12 tips to secure your mobile application: 

1. Install apps from trusted sources:

It’s common to have Android applications republished on alternate markets or their APKs & IPAs made available for download. Both APK and IPA may be downloaded and installed from a variety of places, including websites, cloud services, drives, social media, and social networking. Only the Play Store and the App Store should be allowed to install trustworthy APK and IPA files. To prevent utilizing these apps, we should have a source check detection (Play Store or App Store) upon app start.

Also read, https://andresand.medium.com/add-method-to-check-which-app-store-the-android-app-is-installed-from-or-if-its-sideloaded-c9f450a3d069

2. Root Detection:

Android: An attacker could launch a mobile application on a rooted device and access the local memory or call specific activities or intents to perform malicious activities in the application. 

iOS: Applications on a jailbroken device run as root outside of the iOS sandbox. This can allow applications to access sensitive data stored in other apps or install malicious software negating sandboxing functionality. 

More on Root Detection- https://owasp.org/www-project-mobile-top-10/2016-risks/m8-code-tampering

3. Data Storing:

Developers use Shared Preferences & User Defaults to store key-value pairs like tokens, mobile numbers, email, boolean values, etc. Additionally, while creating apps, developers prefer SQLite databases for structured data. It is recommended to store any data in the format of encryption so that it is difficult to extract the information by hackers.

4. Secure Secret Keys:

API keys, passwords, and tokens shouldn’t be hardcoded in the code. It is recommended to use different techniques to store these values so that hackers cannot get away quickly by tampering with the application. 

Here’s a reference link: https://guides.codepath.com/android/Storing-Secret-Keys-in-Android

5. Code Obfuscation

An attacker may decompile the APK file and extract the source code of the application. This may expose sensitive information stored in the source code of the application to the attacker which may be used to perform tailored attacks. 

It is better to obfuscate the source code to prevent all the sensitive information contained in the source code.

6. Secure Communication:

An attacker may perform malicious activities to leverage the level of attacks since all communication is happening over unencrypted channels. So always use HTTPS URLs over HTTP URLs.

7. SSL Pinning:

Certificate pinning allows mobile applications to restrict communication only to servers with a valid certificate matching the expected value (pin). Pinning ensures that no network data is compromised even if a user is tricked into installing a malicious root certificate on their mobile device. Any app that pins its certificates would thwart such phishing attempts by refusing to transmit data over a compromised connection

Please refer: 

https://owasp.org/www-community/controls/Certificate_and_Public_Key_Pinning

8. Secure API request & response data

The standard practice is to use HTTPS for the baseline protection of REST API calls. The information sent to the server or received from the server may be further encrypted with AES, etc. For example, if there are sensitive contents, you might choose to select those to encrypt so that even if the HTTPS is somehow broken or misconfigured, you have another layer of protection from your encryption.

9. Secure Mobile App Authentication:

In case an application does not assign distinct and complex session tokens after login to a user, an attacker can conduct phishing in order to lure the victim to use a custom-generated token provided by the attacker and easily bypass the login page with the captured session by using a MiTM attack.

i) Assign a distinct and complex session token to a user each time he/she logs on successfully to the application. 

ii) Terminate the session lifetime immediately after logging out. 

iii) Do not use the same session token for two or more IP addresses. 

iv) Limit the expiry time for every session token.

10.  Allow Backup 

Disallow users to back up an app if it contains sensitive data. Having access to backup files (i.e. when android:allowBackup=”true”), it is possible to modify/read the content of an app even on a non-rooted device. So it is recommended to make allow backup false. 

11. Restrict accessing android application screens from other apps

Ideally, your activities should not give any provision to the opening from other services or applications. Make it true only when you have a specific requirement to access your flutter screens from other apps otherwise change to android:exported= ”false”

12. Restrict installing packages from the android application

REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission allows apps to install new packages on a user’s device. We are committed to preventing abuse on the Android platform and protecting users from apps that self-update using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism or download harmful APKs.

Conclusion: 

Mobile Apps have become more personalized than ever before with heaps of customers’ personal data stored in them every day. In order to build trust and loyalty among users and prevent significant financial and credential losses for the companies, it is now crucial to make sure the application is secure for the user. Following the above-mentioned mobile app security checklists will definitely help to prevent hackers from hacking the app.

About the Author:

Raviteja Aketi is a Senior Software Engineer at Mantra Labs. He has extensive experience with B2B projects. Raviteja loves exploring new technologies, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Read our latest blog: Implementing a Clean Architecture with Nest.JS

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