ScreenDiscussion

Blogging background checking and security issues

4.14.2005

The Problem with Databases and Security

When it comes to doing records searches with databases, the problem isn’t with the database itself. I’ve talked about this several times, but I really don’t hate databases. Databases actually work great and do perfectly the job they were created to do. The problem lies with the people responsible for updating and maintaining the database.

A situation recently occurred where several illegal aliens were working in a prison using state-issued ID cards. Their names were checked in the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System, and since no criminal record was found they were allowed to stay and work. One of the individuals had been ordered to be deported, but the system didn’t contain that.

This is a typical example of why reliance on databases typically results in security problems. Whether the database is managed by a state agency or by a private company, the quality of the database depends on how often it is updated and the dependability of the processes in place that guarantee that quality information is being loaded into the database.

In the situation above, there clearly needs to be improved standards and processes. Related to employment and background screening, the employer and even the screening companies involved need to be proactive about finding out about the quality of the information in the databases they access. Some questions to ask:

- How often is the database updated?
- Is the source of information for the database reliable and generally free from defect?
- What process ensures that the information is accurately entered into the database?

The employer doesn’t want to hire someone convicted of aggravated assault a month earlier whose record won’t be available for another 6 months, and the background screening company doesn’t want to be sued because they provided inferior information to the employer.

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