Software // Information Management
News
9/16/2010
03:53 PM
Adam Ely
Adam Ely
Features
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

A Strategy to Protect Unstructured Data

You've got data everywhere. We've got a plan to help you find and control it.

InformationWeek Green - September 20, 2010 InformationWeek Green
Download the entire Sept. 20, 2010, issue of InformationWeek, distributed in an all-digital format as part of our Green Initiative
(Registration required.)
We will plant a tree
for each of the first 5,000 downloads.

Protect Unstructured Data

IT organizations are well aware that sensitive information resides in corporate databases, but unstructured data--e-mail, Office documents, and other content types--can be just as valuable and need protection. The challenge for IT is that unstructured data is growing at a breakneck pace--a compound annual growth rate of 61%, according to IDC, almost three times the growth rate of structured data. It's also scattered throughout the enterprise: in folders on file servers, on laptops, and tucked inside USB drives. You need a strategy for securing it.

Start by understanding the types of content in your company, and the value it has to the business. If your company handles credit cards, then you automatically think of PCI. Your nightmare is credit card numbers sitting on a file server for anyone to find. If you're in the medical field, HIPAA and patient records are a top concern. Other important data types are customer and employee personal information, intellectual property, and operational data.

These groupings are broad but give you enough to build on. The main idea is to understand the types of data and how you will respond once each type is discovered. Once you compile a basic list, work with representatives from IT, legal, compliance, HR, finance, and business development. They will identify data you've forgotten or didn't know about.

Next, map your data types to a classification and handling policy that outlines how groups of data should be managed. The most common mistake we see when IT groups write these policies is specifying exactly how data should be protected. That approach is inefficient and causes more work for you later. Instead, provide a range of acceptable measures rather than mandates. For example, if your company prefers that data in transit be encrypted using SSLv2, but it also will accept the use of TLS 2.0, put both options in your policy. This makes the policy much more flexible for those implementing the protection. That's critical, because if they can't work with you, they'll work around you.

One last note on data classification policies: They often fail because all documents are tagged as confidential, devaluing the policy. Your classification system should differentiate between valuable information that carries a high level of risk and other information that may be sensitive but carries less risk if exposed or lost.

Searching For Unstructured Data

The next step is finding the data. This can be tricky. You know where it should be stored, but because information is so portable, it has a habit of turning up in unexpected places.

To read the rest of the article,
Download the September 20, 2010 issue of InformationWeek


Protecting Unstructured Data

Become an InformationWeek Analytics subscriber: $99 per person per month, multiseat discounts available.

Subscribe and get our full on protecting unstructured data free for a limited time.This report includes 14 pages of action-orientated analysis, packed with 5 charts. What you'll find:
  • How to set up a data classification and handling policy
  • Tips on searching unstructured data sources

Get This And All Our Reports

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.