Back to overview
03. June 2021

Data Risk Assessment: Checklist of 5 Things Your Company Can Discover

Data risk assessments should take place as a regular step in a company's security checks. Assessments will uncover non-compliant files, sensitive information in unstructured data, dangerous unknown data, access issues.

Whether you're looking to acquire another company or consolidate a merger, you need to be aware of what you're walking into. And even if your business isn't trying to absorb another, your own data needs to be protected. But where do you start? Embark on the road to data security with a data risk assessment.

1. Noncompliant Files

These days, compliance with data privacy laws is paramount. Not only are these laws steadily spreading worldwide, but the penalties they can impose are severe. You need to be aware of your data's potential for compliance violations. How do you know if your files are noncompliant?

The inefficient way would be to manually review data privacy laws and examine your files to see if they're up to code. However, given the overwhelming volume of data that enterprises have to manage today, that option simply isn't viable. You need automation.

When you get a data risk assessment, intelligent tools will scour through your file system. These tools know the rules and will check your files for any data that isn't respecting proper protocols. From there, you can take action to mitigate your data risk.

2. Sensitive Information in Unstructured Data

Most of the data out there, whether you measure by the byte or by the number of files, is unstructured data. Most organizations lack the capacity to understand these files. However, smart platforms can scan this data and reveal its contents.

When you know your data, even your unstructured data, you'll know which files have the potential to cause problems. For example, old Outlook PSTs are chock full of emails containing sensitive information. Most people don't realize the danger these pose because they rarely show up when you use your search tools. These proprietary formats can only be read by the program that made them, or by a platform powerful enough to parse them on its own.

Unstructured data is frequently targeted when there's a data breach. You need to know what it contains so you can keep it safe from intruders.

3. Dangerous Dark Data

Even worse than unstructured files are those files you don't even know you have. Dark data has quickly become the majority of all data out there. Most organizations focus on the files they need, and the rest get lost in theshuffle. However, if you have a data breach, you can bet they'll be snooping in every dark corner of your company.

Not only do these files increase your data risk, but they also devour your data storage and increase your data costs. The best thing you can do is identify these files with an assessment and cull them from your system or archive them as necessary.

You might even come across some useful files that you thought you'd lost!

4. ROT Data Revealed

Three types of data give employees headaches and complicate business operations on a regular business. Those are redundant, outdated, and trivial files. These regularly contain sensitive information and tend to get overlooked.

While redundancies are a good thing when it comes to secure backups, they're a problem for your company as they can be pilfered, and no one will be the wiser. Outdated data, while it may not be of much use to you, can still provide cybercriminals with a huge list of contacts to sell.

Even trivial files you think don't matter could contain data that puts your organization at risk. You need to keep track of all of your data, especially the data you don't care much about. It's riskier precisely because you're not keeping a watchful eye over it. Once you know how much ROT you have, you can quickly take action to remove it from your filesystem.

5. Access Issues

Risk assessments can also help you identify files that have an excess of access.Locking every file down excessively isn't an option since workers need to be able to collaborate and bureaucracy will only slow them down. However, some files should be restricted to protect your business in the event of a data breach.

After your risk assessment, you'll be able to see if you have any files that contain sensitive information and are too easy to access. You can then tighten the restrictions on these files and further secure your business.

As data grows, so does your risk. But that doesn't mean you can't minimize your risk. Ask Aparavi for a risk assessment today to find out how exposed your company may be.