Data is the lifeblood of every business; it helps it prosper, powers its decision-making, and streamlines its processes. In today’s digitally connected working world, data is flowing in and out of businesses with lightning speed. This brings the challenge of keeping organizational data private and secure. Companies must manage large amounts of data, and with sensitive data spread over different places, or you might be exposing your business to cyberattacks through sensitive data sprawl. As companies go on to collect more data both internally and externally, it becomes challenging to effectively monitor and trace this data. Consequently, organizations may lose sight of the specific locations of their sensitive information.
Amidst this sprawling landscape of data, organisations can safeguard sensitive data by taking effective measures to mitigate the risks and protect sensitive data within their company. Companies experiencing sensitive data sprawling should work towards implementing a comprehensive data governance policy that can help safeguard sensitive data and mitigate the risks involved in data sprawling. In this article, we will delve into ways that can serve as a much-needed defence mechanism against the data breaches, cybersecurity threats, and unauthorised access associated with data sprawling.
- What is data sprawling?
- Business risks involved in sensitive data sprawling.
- How to Control Data Sprawl: Strategies to Manage Sensitive Data Sprawl?
- Concluding thoughts
What is Data Sprawling?
Data sprawling can be defined as the uncontrolled and unorganised growth of data across various departments, databases, logs, or data pipelines. This complex and distributed data storage leads to huge risks to the data, leading to cyberattacks. When data is hugely scattered and fragmented, it becomes difficult to manage or control it, causing several problems.
Data sprawl creates security risks for the business as it stores vital information about the employees and their clients. It reduces the overall productivity of the company, leads to uncertain decision-making, and may risk a data breach. Data sprawling leads to many challenges, such as duplication of data, wastage of storage space, and an increase in the overall costs involved. Moreover, data sprawling affects the decision-making process as the relevant data may be scattered over the company system, delaying the ability to get comprehensive insights from the data.
To address the issue of data sprawl, organisations need to implement data management strategies, proper documentation, and centralization of the data to unlock the true potential of the available data, reduce cybersecurity risks, and build a secure data environment.
Business risks involved in sensitive data sprawling.
Data and Security Breach: Sensitive data, when scattered, can be easily exploited or stolen, making it more vulnerable to security breaches and cyberattacks. This will ultimately lead to reputational damage, financial loss, and a loss of customer trust.
Increased Operational Costs: Data sprawl makes it harder to identify data breaches. Data sprawling leads to redundant data that increases the need for storage costs, maintenance costs, and additional infrastructure, increasing the overall operational costs of the business.
Non-Compliance with Data Regulations: There are many data protection regulations, like the (California Consumer Protection Act) and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), that impose stricter rules on how sensitive data should be handled. Data sprawling violates these regulations, resulting in hefty fines and legal complications.
Knowledge and decision-making gaps: Data sprawling results in loss of data due to the huge amount of scattered and uncontrolled storage of data. Once the data is lost, it can create knowledge gaps. Knowledge gaps can delay decision-making, thus hampering the growth of the company.
Reduced Data Quality: With too much uncontrolled data, it can hinder the ability of the organisation to cater to the specific needs of their clients. The data offered will be of poor quality, as many relevant pieces can be lost in the chaos.
Harm company reputation: A security breach can harm the reputation of the company in future collaborations. It breaks the trust of existing customers and lowers the ability to attract new ones.
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How to Control Data Sprawl: Strategies to Manage Sensitive Data Sprawl?
1. Centralised data storage and management: Wrap the data repositories into a centralised system and implement robust data management to organise and index the data. Data virtualization techniques can be used to gain access to distributed data sources.
2. Adopting Cloud Storage: Cloud storage is considered one of the most `safe and affordable methods to secure data. Once the cloud protocol is established, everyone associated with the organisation should follow a set of guidelines to collect, store, and save data.
3.Access Control: Grant access control based on a need-to-know basis so that data access can be restricted to those who access a particular area. Data ownership needs to be defined, and a proper guideline for data management, classification, retention, and disposal should be implemented.
4.Data Categorising and Mapping: Classify data based on its sensitivity and confidentiality and categorise it based on urgency, regulations, and risks. Apply metatags once the data is categorised so that it can be easily identified, searched, and retrieved.
5. Data awareness and training: Educate the employees on best data management practises and promote data privacy and security risks associated with data sprawling. Training should be given to educate them about data governance and tools that can be used to prevent security breaches.
6. Setting up multilayered security: A robust cybersecurity strategy needs to be adopted that involves multifactor authentication, encryption systems, access restrictions, etc. to prevent unauthorised access to data. The data should be secured with the latest firewalls, security monitoring systems, etc. to safeguard the sensitive data.
In today’s data driven world, data sprawl poses a formidable challenge to every organisation. Businesses are creating more data than they can keep up with, and with that comes the challenge of data sprawling. With data scattered over various systems, it is tangled in webs, leading to mismanagement of data utilization. However, by implementing strategic measures, organisations can regain control over their data. Establishing clear centralization, categorization, and integration techniques can bring order to the data chaos. Taking proper care of your data by securing it can help in the effective utilisation of the data that can be used to make informed decisions for your organisation.
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