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16. April 2021

Data Risk Management Starts with Knowing Your Data

In order to minimize data risk and prevent data theft and its consequences, you have to have a clear picture of your data. If you don’t know what data you have, then data risk management is next to impossible.

Data risk management is a fundamental part of the data lifecycle, and it’s vital to all organizations. Your data is a valuable asset and one that attracts an ever-growing number of cybercriminals. In order to prevent data theft and its consequences, you have to have a clear picture of your data. If you don’t know what data you have, then data risk management is next to impossible. How can a data risk analysis help you conduct an accurate evaluation?

What is Data Risk Management?

Data risk is the loss or exposure of data harming a company's finances, reputation, of value. Data risk can usually be attributed to unstructured data assets living on company servers, clouds, and other storage locations.

  • Poor data management: data needs to be managed meticulously and holistically. If you have unstructured, unknown data - it’s time for a change.
  • Inadequate data security: security is of utmost importance to protect against data breaches, accidental or not. Most companies have penetrable databases with loose permissions, putting data at great risk.
  • Subpar data governance: a lack of control on data governance can lead to cyber-attacks, breaches, exposures, and more crisis level complications.

In order to ensure your data risk management is effective, a clear picture of your data needs to be accessible. From your on-prem data to your cloud data, it all needs to be visible and clear in a centralized location with controlled access and permissions.

Why Data Risk Management is Critical

The question isn’t “if” a data breach will happen - it’s when. In 2021 alone, there were over 22 billion records exposed globally. According to the IBM Data Breach report, the total cost for a data breach averages around $10 million dollars in the US. On average, it takes 212 days to identify a breach in data due to most data breaches being unintentionally caused by employees. It’s crucial to take preventive measures against the loss or exposure of data to avoid grave risks like profit loss, or even bankruptcy.

The first step to minimizing data risk is conducting an analysis of your data. Conducting a data risk analysis by hand is simply no longer viable in this day and age where data volumes have greatly exceeded human capacity. Automation is necessary.

Consider just a few of the variables you need to quantify in order to perform a risk assessment and you’ll quickly see why automated assistance is needed.

What is the Role of a Data Risk Management Assessment?

You cannot manage what you don’t understand. Therefore, you’ll need to perform a comprehensive risk assessment on your data. From there, you can make intelligent decisions about how to manage your data and reduce risk.

Risk assessments need to be a regular part of your business operations. Cybersecurity experts recommend reviewing your data risk annually with a thorough audit. It’s here where decision-makers raise their first objection: It takes too long to perform a proper risk assessment.

The time it takes to complete a risk assessment only gets longer as your company gets bigger. In fact, it could even get to the point whereby the time you’ve finished your evaluation, your data has changed so much as to render your results irrelevant. Is it possible to get the risk assessment spiral under control?

Understanding Your Data to Minimize Data Risk

You need to know your data to know the risk it presents to your enterprise. This would typically be a painstaking venture. You have to categorize your data into various classes since data risk is not uniform from file to file.

If your CDO called you right now and told you there’d been a data breach, what files would come to your mind first? What data would you be most concerned about? Consumer personal information could be a top priority since it’s where the majority of fines and lawsuits stem from.

Perhaps even more important are the proprietary files that form the foundation of your business. Practices, accounts, sales figures, and even intellectual property could compromise your company if stolen. With automation, you can take the guesswork out of classifying these files. A smart platform can do it for you.

Dark Data Increases Data Risk

An accurate picture of all enterprise data is essential to the lifeblood of an organization. Unfortunately, most companies miss data when they perform risk assessments. This is due to data being located in multiple different places. Having best practices to follow is only the tip of the iceberg - programs put data wherever they please and regularly ignore your best practices.

Data that you don’t know about is considered dark data, a small part of unstructured data. Your data review will not be complete unless you look in every corner and under every rock. Without automation, there’s simply no way your team can search the entirety of your file system. Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be able to make sense of some of the files they find.

With a smart automated platform, you can bring dark data out into the open where it can be seen, classified, and added to your data risk management. If you don’t know about all of your data, there will always be hidden risks that threaten your business.

Taking Action After Assessing Data Risk

Let’s say you’re 100% sure that your team has cataloged all of your data. There’s not an ounce of dark data in your organization. You’ve identified the steps you need to take to secure your data more effectively. What happens next?

Your IT staff will have come up with a proposal for new protocols to protect your data. But it takes time to apply these protocols correctly. Access permissions may need changing, and data will need to be archived or relocated in some cases. Meanwhile, your organization is generating more data with every passing day.

It’s easy to see how this becomes a treadmill problem. You never stop running, and eventually, you run out of breath. How can you get a real understanding of your data when it’s always changing, and your risk assessments can’t keep up?

Data Risk Management Platforms

The solution is simple. An automated platform that can find files, categorize them, and apply restrictions according to your IT department’s recommendations is needed. With Aparavi, data risk management doesn’t have to be complex, unstable, or pricey. The Platform can identify, classify, and unify all data no matter where it lives - holistically managed on a simple dashboard. See it for yourself: Book a demo today.