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6 Steps to Shed Light on Dark Data and Mitigate Risk

by | May 29, 2019

Is Dark Data Putting You at Risk?

With modern collaboration apps, users can create and access data from an alarming variety of tools. While the increased productivity and collaboration benefits are huge, it has created an equally big problem ‘dark data’; data that organizations don’t know how to find or use – or don’t even know exists. While some of that data may be harmless it often includes confidential or sensitive data like IP, customer and employee data, board documents, and more that can put your company at risk if it falls into the hands of the wrong internal users – or hackers.

So how big is the problem?

The State of Dark Data Report surveyed more than 1,300 business managers and IT leaders about how their organizations collect, manage and use data, uncovering the following:

  • 60 percent of respondents said that more than half of their organizations’ data is dark, and one-third of respondents say more than 75 percent of their organization’s data is dark.
  • More than 80 percent of respondents say that while more than half their data is dark, it is potentially valuable.
  • Business leaders say their top three obstacles to recovering dark data is the volume of data, followed by the lack of necessary skill sets and resources.
  • 77% of global respondents agreed that finding and capturing dark data should be a top priority.
  • More than half (56 percent) admit that “data-driven” is just a slogan in their organization.

6 Steps to Shed Light on Dark Data

The risks of dark data are significant given what could be at stake. Just like any other problem you need a plan of attack to combat dark data. Every organization needs to ask themselves, and be able to answer:

  • Do you know where the unstructured content in your organization is being created, shared and stored?
  • Are you sure that your sensitive data is adequately protected and only available to the appropriate individuals?

To do this, first you need to asses just how much dark data exists:

  1. Identify where all your data currently exists within the various data repositories and tools used to store it.
  2. Scan content at rest and in motion in collaboration systems including Office 365, SharePoint, files shares, Dropbox, email, enterprise social platforms, BOTs, etc. for sensitive data including personally identifiable information (PII), cardholder data, protected healthcare data (PHI), IP or corporate confidential information.

Once you find your dark data, you need to be able to classify it based on its sensitivity and secure it if needed:

  1. Classify documents automatically based on the presence of sensitive data and provide options for users to classify data as it’s created.
  2. Set business rules with your classifications to restrict actions that can be taken with classified documents such as print, email or save as to prevent data leakage.
  3. Ensure that documents accessed on the mobile devices like iPads have the same security restrictions and prevent back door access to documents
  4. Track all access to sensitive data as well as what actions that have been taken with it to provide a full audit trail.

If this seems like a daunting task, it needn’t be. Data-centric security tools can help.

Intelligent Data-centric Security to Keep Your Data in the Light

NC Protect can help you discover your dark data in your collaboration solutions and secure it with intelligent, conditional security including Office 365, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and file shares in on-premises, cloud and hybrid environments. The platform empowers you to automatically find, classify and secure unstructured data, and determine how it can be accessed with granular control to mitigate risk and empower collaboration.

Learn how to leverage NC Protect to discover and secure dark data.

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