A Guide to Salesforce Data Security and Best Practices


Salesforce is a versatile customer relationship management (CRM) system. It streamlines operations and lets you focus on acquiring and nurturing leads and step in at the right time with the most suitable offers. How? It unites vital business information, including client contacts, pricing, and supply chain details. Powered by artificial intelligence, it provides crucial insights about your target market and what it needs.

However, as this information is personal, it attracts hackers wishing to steal it. Whether for using it for ransom or selling it to the highest bidder, the motives of these cyber miscreants are as varied as they are nefarious. That’s where you need to ask yourself: How secure is your data within Salesforce?

Preventing something is much easier than coping with the consequences of what’s already happened. It’s harder to restore customer and partner trust once the data breach scandal is in full swing. So, what should you do now? In this article, we’ll provide tips on securing your Salesforce CRM. We’ll explore not only the ‘what’ and ‘how’ but also the ‘why’ behind each best practice. Buckle up, we’re starting!

Understanding Salesforce Security Landscape

Salesforce is an incredibly versatile CRM system. But such versatility comes at a price of complexity, especially in terms of security. What do we mean?

Salesforce, like many other systems, isn’t immune to cyber threats. Even though its developers constantly come up with new updates containing security patches and so on, cybercriminals are also actively searching for uncovered vulnerabilities. They employ AI and machine learning to bypass existing data defense measures. To compare such people with burglars, they don’t just pick locks; they look for new doors to break into a house.

Here are some common security risks you may encounter (we hope you won’t):

  • unauthorized access (it’s where someone penetrates the CRM through a loophole you didn’t even know existed);
  • phishing (it’s when bad actors trick your employees into clicking the desired links to encrypt data on their computers);
  • internal threats (carelessness or malicious intent within your team).

You also need to know the types of security in Salesforce. There exist multiple security levels, comprising:

  • Object Level Security, which is the first step where you can regulate access to different tables in your database;
  • Field Level Security, where you specify who can see what fields (columns) in the system;
  • Record Level Security, where you set up the record access options for each user in the database.

Does it all sound too scary, technical, and complicated? If you need help setting up the system secure-wise, you may want to consider Salesforce maintenance services. As the landscape of cyber threats changes continually, professionals specializing in this field make sure your system is secure and efficient.

Security Best Practices: An In-Depth Guide

Now, let’s delve into best practices for protecting Salesforce data from fraudsters. We’ll cover three components of Salesforce security:

  • user access and authentication;
  • data protection;
  • app and API security.

User Access and Authentication

Here, you need to specify whether users have the right to access data and perform tasks in the database. How can you ensure that only particular people have permission? Here are some tips:

  • Set up roles and permissions

You can define the organization’s role hierarchy by going to ‘Setup’ in Salesforce. There, find ‘Administer’ and select ‘Manage Users’ and ‘Roles’. You can see your current role hierarchy here. Use the ‘Add Role’ or ‘Edit’ options to change it.

This alignment should reflect your organizational structure, so a particular specialist should be able to open only certain details. Carefully assign profiles, matching user responsibilities to object permissions and access levels. Strictly follow the principle of least privilege when utilizing permission settings for additional access requirements.

  • Implement MFA (multi-factor authentication)

This strategy revolves around adding an extra step for users to keep intruders out. For example, it can be syncing the account with the phone number and sending a code to authorize a person.

Start by learning about the features of your Salesforce edition and becoming acquainted with the approved verification techniques. Verification methods could be Salesforce Authenticator app, third-party TOTP authenticator apps, or security keys.

To ensure a seamless transition, plan your MFA implementation. This step involves user training and explaining why and how to use MFA. Assign MFA permissions to user profiles or permission sets, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) in Salesforce Setup, and direct users to register for MFA.

To guarantee ongoing security, test the configuration with a small group of people, keep an eye on how it’s being implemented, and periodically check and update your MFA settings.

  • Enforce strong password policies

It can seem like a no-brainer, but many people still utilize simple passwords or the same credentials for various websites and systems. Devise a complex and hard-to-crack password and regularly change it.

  • Use IP restrictions

Add a geographical layer to your security by controlling the user’s point of access to Salesforce. Check IP addresses that can get into the tables. This guarantees that users can only access the system from places you trust.

  • Monitor failed login attempts

Have you spotted too many attempts with the wrong credentials? That’s a red flag, and you need to stop unusual activity.

Data Protection and Privacy

Data protection covers the process of safeguarding private data, including financial records, customer information, and intellectual property. That’s where you need to implement data encryption to prevent others from reading it if intercepted.

For sensitive data, use field-level encryption. It’ll ensure data security while it’s in transit and at rest. For more encryption capabilities with a higher level of data safety, employ Salesforce Shield, dedicated software for enhanced security.

Remember to back up your data and metadata. What for? When someone steals and encrypts it, your operations will come to a standstill. But if you have a plan B, you can minimize costs associated with the outage. It also makes it easier to restore information when someone accidentally deletes it. Create a schedule to automatically backup the data.

And don’t overlook data loss prevention (DLP) measures. DLP tools monitor, detect, and prevent sensitive data leakage or unauthorized access, allowing you to be proactive rather than reactive.

Event monitoring is another key player. It’s about keeping a closer eye on everything going on in the Salesforce environment. By doing so, you can timely detect and respond to suspicious behavior, such as specific user activities and system changes.

Application and API Security

Let’s not forget about third-party app integrations. You install extensions from other providers and need to know they don’t contain weaknesses for hackers to exploit. Set strict rules and scrutinize apps before doing anything. Ensure they comply with your internal and widely accepted security standards.

For API usage and security, regularly review and monitor API access logs. Don’t add more APIs than necessary, and ensure protected API endpoints.

Salesforce Shield can help with app and API security as it offers advanced tools, such as:

  • Platform Encryption, securing Salesforce data at rest with the help of various tools like 256-bit AES encryption, probabilistic encryption techniques, comprehensive field and file encryption capabilities, etc.

  • Event Monitoring for in-depth analysis of app performance, security, and usage, with options for integrating data visualization and enforcing a real-time security policy;

  • Field Audit Trail, demonstrating the data value and present state at any given moment and date. It offers automated data retention and quick querying, enables compliance with audit standards, and connects with Platform Encryption for increased security without affecting data storage restrictions.

By leveraging these features, you get a comprehensive view of your ecosystem and safeguard sensitive data at scale.

Salesforce Security Tools and Features

When implementing Salesforce security best practices, it’s essential to know about the tools available to streamline this process. Apart from Salesforce Shield, the software comes with several solutions, such as Salesforce Health Check and Sandbox. Let’s take a look at them too.

Salesforce Health Check is a nifty tool that sizes up your Salesforce settings against a set of security best practices. It gives you a security score, kind of a report card. This score shows how well you’re doing and what requires your attention to ensure better security. It points out vulnerabilities, like weak password policies or risky settings, and offers recommendations to eliminate them. Regularly run a Health Check to stay up-to-date.

Sandbox is like having a clone of your Salesforce environment. You can use it for testing and development needs without any risk to your live data. It’s like rehearsing before performing in front of a real audience. Sandbox is a safe space to play around, test new features, train users, or develop customization. What’s great about this tool is that it minimizes disruptions in the live environment.


Data breaches and other cyberattacks present a significant risk for organizations. They cost you a reputation, undermining the trust of existing and potential customers. They result in expenditures on restoring access to information and dealing with legal issues. Salesforce, being a place for storing business data, is one of the most enticing systems for fraudsters. That’s why you should approach its protection seriously. Let’s quickly recap some steps mentioned in the article:

  • Set roles and permissions, enforce MFA, use strong passwords, apply IP restrictions, and monitor login attempts.
  • Encrypt data, back it up, and use DLP measures.
  • Examine third-party apps and APIs to prevent attackers from taking advantage of loopholes.

At last, leverage tools like Salesforce Health Check, Salesforce Shield, and Sandbox. These solutions help you build a safe environment, check the security status, and test new features before rolling them out.

Cyber threats continuously get more sophisticated. That’s why you can’t just grant all the responsibility to Salesforce developers, hoping they’ll present a more secure version of the software. Be proactive, integrate the above mentioned best practices, educate your staff on cybersecurity, and stay flexible.

About the Author

Alex Husar

Alex Husar is a web developer and CTO at Onilab, a full-service eCommerce agency. He graduated from the Czech Technical University and has been working at Onilab for nearly 10 years. This experience helped him become a pro in building PWAs, Magento migration, and Salesforce development. Alex is dedicated to improving his skills, finding answers to tough questions, and sharing insights with the team and readers.

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