Data Sprawl occurs when companies collect, process, and store such huge amounts of data that it becomes challenging to keep track of it, know where it is located, and who has access to it. You should already hear the alarm bells ringing. Data that is lost, hard to retrieve, or falls into the wrong hands will most certainly be a concern for any enterprise. So, check out the following three signs of data sprawl and find out what you can do about it.
What Is Data Sprawl?
When the data that your company handles is consumed by a broad range of operating systems and applications and is stored on a variety of servers and endpoints, you risk experiencing problems. For instance, if your data is stored locally on one or more cloud storage sites and in various geographic locations, you are experiencing data sprawl, which ultimately means that data is at risk. Not only does data sprawl make it more difficult to monitor and control data. It also makes it more challenging for your employees to accurately and quickly retrieve the data they need. Furthermore, data sprawl includes data that is duplicated or redundant, obsolete, and trivial, which results in excessive use of resources. Thankfully, there are ways to solve the issue of data sprawl in your business. For instance, you could add secure remote access to files and web-link file-sharing capabilities.
Warning Sign #1: You Are Hoarding Data
If you are hoarding data, it is a warning sign of data sprawl. Too often, certain types of data and application files are not deleted because they are deemed too important to lose. But hanging onto unstructured data invites greater security risks and liability. If your company is holding on to too much data, you need a sound data governance program to handle the situation.
Warning Sign #2: You Are Not Governing the Cloud Correctly
While the cloud can be a great solution to data sprawl when used in the right way, if you have ungoverned cloud activity as well as governed cloud activity, the former will be open to security risks. You must have a formal cloud strategy in place instead of using an ad hoc approach. You can also manage the issue of data sprawl in the cloud by complying with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard for credit card data. Data sprawl can lead to data breaches. Cybercriminals can steal data from point-of-sale systems, so it is vital you govern all of your cloud activity in the most protective manner.
Warning Sign #3: Employees Use Devices That Increase the Risk of Inbound and Outbound Threats
Your employees will probably be using a wide variety of devices and technologies to access, edit, and share data, such as smartphones and tablets. But that can result in both inbound and outbound security risks. Inbound threats include clicking on malware in an attachment only to become infected with malware. Outbound threats include users intentionally or accidentally sending corporate data from their personal devices to unauthorized users. When your company is experiencing data sprawl, those threats become bigger.
What You Can Do About Data Sprawl
The first thing you need to do to manage the risk of data sprawl is to identify which data is leaving your company without authorization. Assess how much data that includes and how sensitive that data is to discern how best to tackle it. You can use online tools and platforms to identify the data in question, assess its risk, and implement data loss prevention techniques. You also need to contact the owners of the data. You can then explain the risks of the data sprawl, including things like compliance issues, and together find remediation measures to put in place. As for ungoverned cloud services, you can use tools like single sign-on technologies and a cloud security access broker to govern and manage the data and thereby avoid the potential danger of data sprawl.