What may come as a surprise to many organizations is that the more data you have, the more at risk you are of a cyberattack.

By Adrian Knapp, CEO & Founder of Aparavi

What may come as a surprise to many organizations is that the more data you have, the more at risk you are of a cyberattack. Companies are operating with unaccounted for data that is lying dormant on servers, eating up space, slowing down processing, and costing companies millions. According to Mike Gualieri, VP and Principal Analyst of Forrester, “the unfortunate truth has been that the potential of most data lies dormant. Between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics.” Redundant, obsolete, and trivial data, otherwise known as ROT data, and dark data are keeping organizations in the dark and things need to change.

We are in a routine of holding onto data because we have been told that we need to retain all of our data “just in case.” Businesses believe that retaining data helps decrease the chances of potential risks, but the opposite is true.

The more unstructured data an organization has, the higher the risk of falling victim to a cyberattack. When you don’t know what data you have, you don’t know what could be targeted by hacker groups. Organizations turn a blind eye because they feel that there is a lack of resources, or tools available to sift through data, but the longer data goes unaccounted for the more money organizations expend.

What is ROT & Dark Data?

The only way to take charge of your data is to understand the effects that ROT & dark data have on your company. Redundancies happen as a response to our habit of saving multiple copies of the same set of data, while entertaining the mentality that we must hold onto everything. Outdated data is data that has lost purpose over time and is no longer relevant. Trivial data is data without a purpose that clogs up our servers and takes up valuable space, while slowing down processing. Data is considered “dark” when you do not have a strategic purpose for it. All of these forms of unstructured data are costing organizations millions, while stifling the opportunity to have optimal processing. The only way for organizations to tackle this problem is by knowing what data should be kept, deleted, or sorted.

What else is hiding in the dark?

Another challenge looming in the shadows that companies face regarding ROT and dark data is data storage. While the cloud might seem like a cost-effective solution, since you are paying very little per gigabyte, redundancies and outdated data quickly drive up monthly storage fees. Companies buy disk after disk to support data growth, but come five years from now, you run out of space and accumulate an abundance of disks.

When you aren’t aware of what data you have and where it is located, your company is also at a higher risk of a data breach. Some of that data may be stored outside of secure file systems that hacker groups can easily target when you have unaccounted-for data. This especially happens when employees make copies of files to take their laptops home or lose equipment by accident. Sometimes it only takes a file shared between servers containing confidential information, leading to costly settlements in court. When an organization manages its data, another expensive mistake that is avoidable is the payment of compliance fines due to a consumer’s data being compromised during a data breach.

Employees are slowed down significantly by sifting through old, redundant, and trivial data, which means valuable time is lost that expends company resources. A survey from Wakefield Research and Elastic revealed that 54% of U.S. office professionals report wasting time searching for much-needed files in cluttered online filling systems. Having a lot of ROT to sift through also increases the chance of employee error in sending outdated information to clients, which causes lost company time trying to fix the mistake. When productivity is reduced, resources are wasted.

So What is the Solution?

The solution is to shed light on your data, in identifying redundant files, obsolete files, and trash data. Being in the dark about your data means missed opportunities that could have led to higher revenue. There are tools out there that can help shed light so your company can take control of your data through intelligent data management platforms that help delete ROT data, as well as sort and structure dark data. These intelligent platforms help analyze unstructured data and indicate what should be kept, deleted, or sorted. Taking control of your data is the most beneficial thing you can do for your company’s overall data health, and this will in turn deliver value and safety to your organization.

Mr. Adrian Knapp is the Founder and CEO of Aparavi Software. He has been Chairman of NovaStor Software for over 10 years. Before that, he was the founder and served as the Chief Executive Officer, President and Member of Management Board at Mount10 Holding AG. Mount10 went public on Neuer Markt in 2001. Mr. Knapp served as Exec. VP and Chairman of COPE Inc., which he co-founded. COPE was the first full data storage focused consulting and system integration firm in Europe and was listed on Nasdaq in 1999. In 1991, he was also co-founder of Dicom AG, an international IT company that became DICOM PLC and went public on AIM London in 1995. Mr. Knapp holds a Degree in Business economics from GSBA Zurich.

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