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03. June 2021

Are Your ROT Files Just Compliance Fines Waiting to Happen?

Negligence is no excuse: it's your responsibility to know your data and protect it according to the rules. One kind of data, in particular, can quietly sabotage your business: ROT data.

A few years ago, the idea of data law compliance was just a hypothetical. Now it's reality. Data privacy laws are already in the books and are being actively enforced. Regulators dole out compliance fines freely now. Negligence is no excuse: it's your responsibility to know your data and protect it according to the rules. One kind of data, in particular, can quietly sabotage your business: ROT data.

Understanding the Risk of ROT

ROT is an acronym that stands for redundant, outdated, and trivial. It also accurately summarizes what will happen to your business if you're hit by a data breach and sensitive personal information is lost. Major enterprises have fallen due to the mishandling of these files. Most of the time they didn't even know that this data had been pilfered because they weren't keeping track of it in the first place.

ROT data often falls into the category of dark data. SinceROT data is generally seen as unimportant, it tends to get overlooked and left to collect dust on your servers. That is, until an intruder stumbles upon them and makes off with your data.

Each of these kinds of files presents a unique risk. The only solution is to know exactly what files you have, where they reside, and how they are protected. When you know your data, your risk is reduced.

Redundancies Increase Risk

This notion contradicts what most IT experts have preached for years: Back up your files. Redundancy is often seen as a good thing. After all, if you suffer a hardware failure or a data breach, having a reliable backup is essential to getting up and running again.

But there's a difference between backups, which ought to be kept offline and in a secure location, and redundant data. Redundant files are usually created by programs while you work in case your program crashes. They might also be “working backups” that employees make in case a mistake happens and they need to revert to an older version.

However, as soon as the job is complete, employees tend to forget all about these files and rarely delete them. As a result, you've got extra copies of data that you're unaware of, and these could easily slip through the cracks. You need a platform that constantly looks for redundant files so that you can remove them or lock them down as needed.

Outdated Data Is Often Forgotten

While old data isn't the primary target of most cybercriminals, they won't turn their noses up at it either. Even an outdated database can still yield results, especially since people rarely change their email addresses. Nevertheless, old data is rarely given the management it calls for.

Employees are always hesitant to delete old files out of an abundance of caution. Ironically, this leads to risky files lurking in your system. The best solution for this is to run regular searches of your filesystem to look for data that's older than a given interval. If a file hasn't been touched in several months or years, it's time to move it offline.

You can automate that process with a smart platform.Outdated data will never get lost in the shuffle again, and you'll know your data.

Trivial Files Are Rarely Trivial

Trivial data is any data your business doesn't use or simply doesn't care about anymore. However, this data is often chock full of sensitive information. How can that be?

Consider just one source of trivial files: local user data.If you have a server for your office that your employees use to log into their desktop computers, as many companies do, each user's data is saved locally to the computer they worked on. If they decided to use a different workstation, even for a day, chances are there are copies of important information on that other machine.

Since those files are offline, they're almost never noticed by your search tools. Only a powerful platform that can parse all of your data across your entire network can catch these files.

What Compliance Means Today

Compliance with modern data legislation means that you have to know your data. Your ROT files are like landmines: one wrong step and disaster strikes. Sweep them up with a smart platform that can detect this kind of data and automate compliance with all modern data privacy laws. Ask Aparavi for a data assessment to determine the level of risk your company faces due to ROT data.