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Dark age of data

UK businesses continue to house ‘dark data’, creating a honeypot for cybercriminals, it’s claimed by a data protection and storage company.

A Value of Data study, by market researchers Vanson Bourne for Veritas, surveyed 1,500 IT decision makers and data managers across 15 countries, including 100 from the UK. It suggests that on average, nearly half (48 per cent) of all data within UK organisations remains unclassified or untagged, indicating that businesses have limited or no visibility over vast volumes of potentially business-critical data, creating a ripe target for hackers, according to Veritas.

Classifying data enables organisations to quickly scan and tag data to ensure that sensitive or risky information is properly managed and protected, regardless of where that data lives. This broad visibility into data helps companies comply with ever-increasing and stringent data protection regulations that require discrete retention policies be implemented and enforced across an organisation’s entire data estate.

Public cloud and mobile environments represent the weakest links in data security, with the majority of data across these environments most likely to be left unclassified and potentially unprotected. Just nine per cent of UK-based companies claim to have classified all of their data in the public cloud, while only eight per cent have classified all of the data that sits on mobile devices. Over half (56 per cent) of companies admit they have classified less than half of their public cloud data, while nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) have classified less than half of the data that sits on mobile devices.

Veritas’ previous Truth in Cloud research found that a majority (69 per cent) of global organisations wrongfully believe data protection, data privacy and compliance are the responsibility of their cloud service providers, although cloud provider contracts usually place data management responsibility on businesses.

Jasmit Sagoo, senior director, Northern Europe, Veritas said: “As modern workforces become more mobile and data is dispersed across organisations, businesses have a big task in ensuring they have visibility and control over their data. If data isn’t effectively classified and tagged, it is more likely to go ‘dark’ and pose a serious security risk to businesses and their customers. Organisations must take responsibility for all of their data, or they could face significant repercussions to their reputation and market share.”

Organisations consider strengthening data security (65 per cent), improving data visibility and control (41 per cent) and guaranteeing regulatory compliance (51 per cent) among their top key drivers for day-to-day data management. Yet the majority of respondents admit that their organisation still needs to make improvements in all of these areas.

Sagoo added: “In today’s digital economy, it’s not a question of if a company will be targeted by cybercriminals, it’s a matter of when, and a company’s pool of dark data serves as an easy and enticing target for attacks. The more organisations know about their data, the better they will be at judging its value or risk. The average company holds billions of data files, so manually classifying and tagging them is near impossible. With the help of data management tools that include algorithms, machine learning, policies and processes, businesses can effectively keep data secure, available and gain valuable insights from it, regardless of where that data sits in their organisation.”

Read more about the findings in a blog.


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