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Where’s the Data? Senior Management Doesn’t Know

Do you know where your company data is? If so, you’re doing better than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents to a new survey from Varonis Systems Inc., a data governance software provider. Attendees from over 400 companies attending EMC World in May say their organization’s senior managers either “don’t know where all company data resides or are not sure.” Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of organizations admit that they don’t have a tracking process so they know which files reside on third-party “cloud digital collaboration and storage services.”

A release from Varonis says it best: "With Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) -- particularly mobile and tablet devices -- and file synch services booming, companies are open to a wave of potential devastation. Files kept on third-party cloud services can be lost, misplaced, accessed by unauthorized people, or leave the company with the employee, causing data privacy and compliance issues.”

What’s worse:

Concerning those organizations that do use file synchronization services our survey uncovered some disturbing results: only 9 percent of those organizations using [third-party] collaboration services report that they have created authorization and review processes for the data residing in the cloud; 46 percent report that they don’t know how access is granted or reviewed; 23 percent report that they are still developing access processes; 10 percent report that while access is granted by users, reviews are ad hoc or not performed at all; and an astonishing 12 percent report that they have no plans to manage access to cloud based file sync services.

The report goes on to say that “These findings seem to confirm our worst fears: that organizational data is being spread to the public cloud, with little hope that access to it will be controlled.” Now you know why security surveys repeatedly report that security administrator’s biggest fear comes from the behavior of its users, not external threats.

Varonis points out that without such control, data is virtually "up for grabs.” 

The survey points out:

A bit of almost good news is that of those organizations that use 3rd party file sync services, a little over half (52 percent) hope to keep as much data in-house as possible, with the bare minimum being kept in the cloud. Almost a third (30 percent), however, are resigned to having to manage two separate infrastructures going forward: internal and cloud.

Notice that the report says the respondents hope. It doesn’t say they have any plans. Talk about wishful thinking.

Finally, another number that jumped out at me: when asked “Compared to internal file shares, how secure do you rate third-party cloud digital collaboration and services,” 27 percent said “I have no idea how secure these services are,” and 35 percent admitted the services were less secure than internal file shares.

The full report -- which should serve as a wake-up call to storage and security administrators alike -- is available at http://hub.varonis.com/CloudSurvey. A short registration is required.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 06/25/2012

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