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Untagged data a major risk to businesses - Veritas

10 Jun 2019
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Australian and New Zealand businesses continue to house ‘dark data’ within their organisations, creating a honeypot for cybercriminals, Veritas Technologies research has found.

The Value of Data study, conducted by Vanson Bourne for Veritas, surveyed 1,500 IT decision makers and data managers across 15 countries.

It reveals that on average, over half (52%) of all data within 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.

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 five percent of companies claim to have classified all their data in the public cloud, while only two percent have classified all of the data that sits on mobile devices.

More than three in five (65%) companies admit they have classified less than half of their public cloud data, while over almost two-thirds (63%) have classified less than half of the data that sits on mobile devices. 

Veritas’ previous Truth in Cloud research revealed that an alarming majority (63%) of 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.

“As workforces become more mobile with diminishing boundary between work and personal life, company data has become dispersed across numerous environments,” says Veritas Technologies Australia and New Zealand managing director Howard Fyffe.

“When data is fragmented across an organisation and has not been properly tagged, it is more likely to go ‘dark’, threatening the company’s reputation if it does not adhere to global and local data protection regulations such as GDPR and the Australia Notifiable Data Breach. “Organisations need to take full responsibility to ensure their data is effectively managed and protected,” he adds.

The dark age of data

Organisations consider strengthening data security (49%), ensuring users have the ability to back up and recover data effectively (44%) and improving data visibility and control (43%) 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. 

“Australia and New Zealand businesses must never keep their dark data reservoir as an afterthought as it is an enticing target for cybercriminals and ransomware attacks. The more organisations know about their data, the better they will be at judging its value or risk,” says Fyffe.

“But with the average company holding billions of data files, manually classifying and tagging data is beyond human capability. Businesses must implement data management tools with algorithms, machine learning, policies and processes that can help manage, protect and gain insights from their data, regardless of where it resides within the organisation.”