The dangers of dark data: How to manage it and mitigate the risks

Darkish information is a serious problem in enterprises, and it isn’t going away quickly. Luckily, there are methods to cut back darkish information and the dangers that include it.


Picture: Shutterstock/sdecoret

A technique to have a look at darkish (or invisible) information is to consider all the on- and off-premises paper recordsdata, closet- and shelf-based recordsdata, and another sort of data that hasn’t been digitized, and that staff cannot readily entry. Regardless of latest organizational efforts at digitization, there’s nonetheless an abundance of this hidden information floating round.

There’s additionally a broader, easier definition of darkish information: any information that you just don’t have prepared visibility of. This will embody digital info that you just may not concentrate on, resembling prompt messages and video name transcripts, or another content material that has not been centralized in a searchable information repository.

“Darkish information is information that isn’t beneath administration, or on a company useful resource the place it may be found,” stated Brian Remmington, CTO at Hyland, which offers enterprise content material administration options. “As soon as found, darkish information is not darkish information.” 

SEE: Navigating information privateness (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Through the COVID pandemic, many organizations have been working in extremely distributed and distant environments. This has boosted darkish information development.

“Staff additionally use company-appointed laptops for every thing from video calls to sharing paperwork and accessing electronic mail,” Remmington stated. “This creates an extreme quantity of darkish information that looms in firm storage. As well as, staff could copy centralized content material to their native laptops and never add it after altering it.”

Remmington believes that the issue with the rising quantity of darkish information will all the time be managing it and ensuring it is revisited and leveraged appropriately for enterprise intelligence and governance functions. Moreover, when staff depart the enterprise, enterprises danger a lack of mental property or company reminiscence by lacking darkish information.

How severe is the danger of not managing darkish information?

First, not having your darkish information beneath administration can create authorized, safety and compliance dangers. What if your organization is in a lawsuit and should get to this information as a part of the authorized discovery course of?

Second, not accessing darkish information can lead key determination makers into making the incorrect choices for the group.

Third, important waste may result. This waste comes within the type of misplaced worker productiveness as a result of it’s going to take them longer to seek for and acquire the data they want. Storage prices additionally improve, as a result of storing information with out utilizing it’s wasteful.

Fourth, the darkish information drawback contributes to enterprise information silos. “The primary goal must be discovering darkish information in order that it may be categorised and managed appropriately, and probably analyzed for enterprise intelligence,” Remmington stated. “One of many key issues to look at is how every silo of darkish information got here to be that manner, and to determine processes and tooling that may assist forestall it from taking place sooner or later.”

One proactive method that corporations can use to cut back darkish information is to create information safekeeping insurance policies for workers and practice and retrain staff on these insurance policies.

SEE: Digital information retention coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

Audits will also be carried out to make sure that information (and information modifications) are synchronized between particular person work stations and central information repositories.

Each of those steps might help to get rid of the “darkish holes” in enterprise info that darkish information creates.

“It’ll be some time earlier than darkish information disappears,” Remmington acknowledged. “However within the meantime, organizations ought to do their finest to deal with their information being created in actual time as they work by means of backlogs of information. In the long term, this may assist companies attain their objectives.”

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