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HP gives software robots their own IDs to audit their activities

What are your robots up to? HP's new Digital ID for software robots keeps track of digital underlings.

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Robots are replacing employees in the enterprise, especially those who perform repetitive tasks. So-called robotic process automation (RPA) involves software programs that perform predetermined tasks on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. A good example would be checking invoices in an accounts receivable department or performing end-of-month accounting.

There's a problem here, though. How do you keep track of what your robots are up to? Ensuring that your accounts-payable RPA doesn't start sending money to a prince in Nigeria seems like a good idea. Enter HP's new Digital ID for RPAs.

"RPA is taking the industry by storm," Jayaraman Krishnamurthy, manager RPA support at HP, tells CSO. "The key to this automation is the task has to be repetitive in nature. Checking invoices for correctness, posting an invoice, creating an audit.... these are highly ideal RPA examples. We can use a software robot to mimic that."

But how do you keep track of what an automated process does? How do you audit its activities, and recover when it makes a mistake? "Mistakes will happen. How do we mitigate and come back from that?" Krishnamurthy asks. "Digital ID ensures you can have proper control and ownership."

Robots need ID badges too

Unlike physical robots working on, say, a car assembly line, it's a little less obvious what software robots are doing and how to identify when they malfunction. As RPAs gained traction in the enterprise, they typically ran using an employee's ID — and credentials. However, this is a poor security practice and makes it hard to audit who did what. "When we want to know who passed [a transaction], the robot or the employee, it can be difficult for us to understand, because the IDs are not unique," Krishnamurthy says.

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