Everyone that uses the web knows that it's a wild, wild world out in hyperspace. But there’s other places that are equally wild, and positively dangerous for your data -- and most of them are in your enterprise. A recent white paper by Quest outlines three of the major problems, and six simple solutions to solving the problem of data governance.

Data in the Enterprise

Over recent months, there have been numerous papers and even conferences on the business value of your content and how information is no longer just a byproduct of business, but also a business goal in itself.

By that we mean that your enterprise is only as good as the content and data it contains and the better it is managed the better your business will be. In respect of the many people who have made interesting contributions on it recently, we can cite Brendan Coveney, GM for the Americas at the Nuxeo annual meeting, while Gartner, Forrester and earlier on in the year the AIIM State of the Industry report all indicate that companies are starting to realize the intrinsic value of business content.

That’s all very good; the way it should be. But the higher the value of the content, the greater the target it becomes for hackers and other nasties, who are looking to exploit that value for themselves.

There is hardly a week goes by without a report of some company succumbing to data breaches by outside third parties, or even by people on the inside of your enterprise.

Unfortunately, in this case, the quaint medieval custom of burning these ne’er-do-wells at the village crossroads is gone, and the only protection now is effective and efficient information management and governance.

The starting point for that is identifying where the likely weaknesses in your information fortress are, and how to shore those weaknesses up. Quest has been looking at this in some detail and has identified three areas that are the most commonly identified weak points across numerous enterprises.

The first thing that needs to be said that is that Gartner in its Security and Risk Management Lessons from March of this year argues that data access decisions should be based on an assessment of the risks and benefits of a given level of data sharing, as well as an assessment of the process, people and technology that can securely enable that sharing.

In concrete terms, Quest, it its paper Data Access Governance breaks this up into three areas:

1. Inefficiency

Securing and controlling access to data is a very time-consuming process. Currently, for most companies that are even aware that their data access protocols are an issue, actual practices in securing that are inefficient, whether you are manually securing unstructured data, or whether it is data that is being dealt with automatically.

To secure it properly, enterprises need to assess where in the environment your data resides, assess how much data loss there is from the use of file servers and NAS devices, and even develop an inventory of what’s available in your SharePoint deployments. All very time consuming, you’ll no doubt agree.

2. Ineffectiveness

After answering the question as to who has access to your data, the next big question is whether they should have a given level of access or not. Does IT know what level of access should be offered to employees, and should this decision be left in the hands of the IT department at all?

The chances are that they shouldn’t be allowed decide, as this is ultimately a business decision. But, as in the case of most companies, there is no clear policy on who makes the decisions. Chances are in this situation there’s also going to be a lot of unstructured and orphaned data lying around with no one to take responsibly for it.

3. Lack of Agility

In an ideal world we all use predictive analytics and we all know about problem coming down the road before they happen. But the reality is different and most companies are reactive -- they react to problems as they appear. However, if you only react to a problem as it happens, it is very difficult to be agile, and we have seen before that agile companies are winning companies.