Dark Data as a Company Asset

Dark Data as a Company Asset

4 minute read
Dana Simberkoff avatar

We've seen an influx of compliance and data security related stories flood news outlets over the past year. With data breaches at Experian and Home Depot, companies around the globe are facing a heightened demand for data privacy and compliance regulation.

Many of these companies have now invested in data loss prevention and governance, risk and compliance programs to help them identify data that may put them at risk.This is data that often exists across enterprise systems (file shares, SharePoint, social systems, and other enterprise collaboration systems and networks) and is referred to as “dark data” -- or data that is not properly understood.  

Do More With Less

Understanding what and where this data lives and properly classifying it will allow you to set the appropriate levels of protection. For example, many companies traditionally apply their security protocols in broad terms, meaning that they use the same security procedures for everything.

Companies are now beginning to think about their data -- "dark data” in particular -- and information about their customers as an unrealized asset. However, much of that data may be lost in file shares or data silos, undiscoverable and unprotected. So what can be seen as a risk may also be viewed as an asset when accessed and protected appropriately.

The pressure is on for companies to “do more with less” -- to empower employees, business associates and customers through the use of the latest technologies. Companies require increasingly larger market data sets and deeper granularity to feed predictive models, forecasts and trading throughout the day. New regulatory and compliance requirements are placing greater emphasis on governance and risk reporting, driving the need for deeper and more transparent analyses across global organizations. Enterprise collaboration systems, social media, big data, mobile devices and the cloud are great for innovation, free thinking and creativity, but can become a compliance headache as well.

From Cost Center to Business Asset

When investing in compliance technologies, companies can turn what was previously considered to be a “cost to the business” (security, privacy and DLP technologies) into a corporate asset. Understand how much risk you have in your organization today. Knowing you could be on the hook for millions of dollars in fines is important to understand at every level of the organization.

But when mitigating this risk, organizations can also find the dark data where it lives -- all across your enterprise and where you’re storing information. This presents a critical need for data discovery, subsequently driving enterprise classification and taxonomy across systems.

Learning Opportunities

Technology offers business users with “spell checking” in most authoring systems, and we expect that communications sent for business purposes will not have spelling mistakes. Compliance technology needs to bring this power and simplicity to the world of data protection and classification, with user-assisted tagging and automated classification. By repurposing these compliance systems to not only discover “dark data” for compliance purposes, but also for knowledge management and data discovery purposes, organizations will find they are effectively:

  • Lowering overall total cost of ownership
  • Enabling business self-service
  • Accelerating data access and collaboration capabilities
  • Adhering to compliance policies and mitigating data risks

For effective data management and collaboration to turn into a competitive advantage for the business, timely access to data as well as multi-directional communication flow -- with the right risk management filters in place -- is essential. This way, data is available whenever and wherever to those who need it, and unavailable to those who shouldn’t have access.

Companies can repurpose their compliance programs that have traditionally been viewed as a “cost center” for the business, to help them turn previously untapped information into a business asset. This not only creates a quantifiable return on investment for data security and privacy programs, but also helps the company increase productivity and stay out of regulatory hot water.

Title image by Nur Hussein (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

About the author

Dana Simberkoff

Dana Louise Simberkoff is the Chief Risk, Privacy and Information Security Officer, AvePoint, Inc. She is responsible for executive level consulting, research and analytical support on current and upcoming industry trends, technology, standards, best practices, concepts and solutions for risk management and compliance.

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