One common concern for decision-makers and IT departments is around protecting their data. The feeling is that no-code platforms aren’t secure enough when there’s sensitive info at stake. Read on for the truth.
Security is, understandably, a pretty big priority for organisations when it comes to building apps and handling data. They really do not want data breaches. And in certain sectors like healthcare or finance, they have to make sure they’re complying with stringent regulations at all times. That’s why no-code and low-code platforms are often viewed with a little mistrust.
Do they have security measures like encryption, access controls or audit trails? What about the lack of control when non-technical people are building apps? The thinking goes that building app prototypes is one thing, but building internal enterprise-ready apps that are handling customer data is something else entirely.
There is just a bit of truth to this myth. So you might say it’s not actually a myth, and you’d be within your rights. But the situation isn’t quite as black and white as you might think. Let’s dig in.
Is tight data security actually relevant to your needs?
You can broadly separate no-code platforms into consumer-grade tools (eg, Bubble, Adalo, Glide) and enterprise-grade tools (eg, Stacker, Internal, Betty Blocks). Enterprise tools are generally really good at handling security, auditing, and generally looking after your data. But they tend to lag behind when it comes to the functionality of consumer-grade tools. That’s why one of the first questions you need to ask is which kind of platform suits your use case. For example, if you’re simply looking to build prototypes of apps, which won’t be hosting sensitive data, you might just opt for consumer-grade platforms that let you move fast and build quickly.
Building enterprise-ready apps with no-code
When it comes to building internal tools for your business that are likely handling customer data, you’ll be looking at enterprise-grade tools. Each of these platforms will have a different approach to security and securing that sensitive data. When it comes to determining if they can handle your data with the security you need, there are two different areas to dig into:
1. Do you trust the company?
We’re not talking about getting a good vibe from their sales team, but those nitty gritty details. Questions you need to ask include: Do they have SOC 2 and GDPR compliance? Are they giving you the option to self-host data on your premises, or do you instead have to use their cloud? Are they hosting data in a country you’re comfortable with? Does the platform have a security team? Getting positive answers to those questions will suggest they’re used to working with enterprise companies with sensitive data. Essentially you’re trying to get the definitive sense that they take enterprise customers seriously.
2. Is the platform designed in the way you require?
Time to dig into the specifics of the platform itself. A platform like Stacker, for example, is really good at access controls for roles at a granular level – so you can specify what an individual user can and can’t see. That might matter for your organisation. You’re probably looking at a few minimum requirements in the security features:
A centralised admin panel where somebody in the IT department can manage hundreds of users and make sure the right people have access. With a granular level of permissions to secure it.
Audit logs so that when someone changes a bit of data, you know exactly who did it and can trace everything.
The ability to integrate with the services and data that you’re already using. So if your customer data is sitting on an SQL server but the platform you’re looking at only supports Airtable or Microsoft Excel, it’s not a good fit.
The security benefits of no-code platforms
If your organisation chooses to build an app in-house, it has to secure the app in-house, with all the intricacies and complications that entails. A no-code platform, though, has a security team that is geared up to do that work. And they’re not just working on your account, but they’re learning about issues and bugs across numerous accounts. The platform is likely to have the financial backing to invest in creating the most secure and stable app possible. Compare that to your IT department, which is unlikely to be able to properly invest in the security of a small internal app.
You’ll also have a support team who can help you build the app out properly, avoiding any vulnerabilities. Ultimately, security mistakes are pretty rare when you’re building with no-code platforms because the no-code tool is fundamentally designed to avoid the common security holes that you see in in-house software.
Sectors where it gets complicated
We said there was a hint of truth to this myth, and here it comes. In certain industries that are highly regulated (eg, healthcare, financial services, the military), the chances are that you’ll need a self-hosted no-code platform that allows you to host and have full control over your data. That limits the choices available in a big way. Tools like Bubble, Adalo and Zapier are no good; instead, you’ll be looking at platforms like Betty Blocks, Retool, JetAdmin and N8N.
Then there are industries with highly specific regulations. For example, in the healthcare sector in the US, companies need to ensure they’re HIPAA compliant. It’s very hard to find a no-code platform that supports that today. It’s certainly worth talking to enterprise-grade tools to see what they can do but ultimately, there’s not a lot of support right now for highly regulated, highly specific industries.
It’s too simplistic to say that no-code platforms aren’t able to handle sensitive data. Unless you’re operating in a highly regulated sector – and your use case actually requires interacting with sensitive data – then there are a host of enterprise-grade platforms set up for an organisation’s needs. Indeed, the security they can offer is often a big benefit of using the platform. The key thing is to carefully evaluate the levels of security you need, and find out if the platform you’ve found is compatible.