Reduce data levels to minimize digital risk

October 24, 2023 - Data is the lifeblood of organizations. In 2023, approximately 60 percent of corporate data is stored on the cloud, in comparison to 30 percent in 2015. Data is so valuable that businesses are unwilling to throw any away which is leading to data sprawl, privacy, and cybersecurity risks.

It may cost later down the line if deleted data needs regenerating; however, if this data is retained, costs are steadily being driven up whilst creating an unsustainable data management plan by default. The often-unconsidered risks when creating a data retention and storage strategy is the cybersecurity and privacy risks, as well as the environmental impacts of increased computer power usage. There are four steps an organization can take to reduce these risks:

  1. Rethink the virtualization strategy: When cutting costs in one area, double check that costs are not being added elsewhere. One way to help reduce costs and increase sustainability is to reconfigure how data is being stored. Organizations would be well advised to identify virtualization solutions that enable a reduction in the cost of owning and maintaining infrastructure. This could be achieved by outsourcing or optimizing on-premises infrastructure or switching to a different platform.
  2. Clean up your backup: Unless a data rationalization program is in place, it is likely that organizations are hoarding too much data in backups. Often the biggest culprit of storage overload that we can solve with technology is an improperly utilized backup solution. Backups are redundant data by design, but many organizations are keeping more copies than they need or using suboptimal storage methods resulting in bloated data stores.
  3. Prevent cloud dumping: Many organizations believe it is possible to retain large data stores and prevent purging by dumping data in the cloud. However, simply moving an existing software landscape to the cloud will not result in any substantial benefits. Costs would not be reduced, and indeed eventually might increase because the software/applications are not optimized for running on the cloud. Accounting for data, software, and other IT assets through asset management is key to enhancing operational performance, lowering costs, and reducing risks.
  4. Identify data accessibility issues: Many employees can hoard data to repurpose at a later date, often leading to data duplication and inconsistent access patterns. Failure to identify and clean-up data accessibility issues will result in organizations playing Whack-A-Mole when trying to end the chaos. Resolving such issues requires businesses to adopt a platform that enables centralization, normalization, sharing, and collaboration with data.

As organizations grapple with the complexity of managing such a fluid data landscape, there is a danger of significant additional costs and expanded risk. Data governance and management has never been so vital as part of an organizational strategy to both enable the business to move forward with intelligent decision making and protect from increased digital risk.

For more insights this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, read Elevate your cybersecurity defences by Mark Brown and Strategically building breach resilience by Stephen Scott, Practice Director, Digital Trust Consulting, BSI.

For more insights on other digital trust, privacy, information security, and environmental, health, and safety topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.