The dangers of dark data: How to manage it and mitigate the risks

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Darkish knowledge is a serious problem in enterprises, and it is not going away quickly. Thankfully, there are methods to scale back darkish knowledge and the dangers that include it.

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Picture: Shutterstock/sdecoret
A method to have a look at darkish (or invisible) knowledge is to consider all the on- and off-premises paper recordsdata, closet- and shelf-based recordsdata, and another kind of data that hasn’t been digitized, and that staff cannot readily entry. Regardless of current organizational efforts at digitization, there’s nonetheless an abundance of this hidden knowledge floating round.There’s additionally a broader, easier definition of darkish knowledge: any knowledge that you just shouldn’t have prepared visibility of. This may embody digital data that you just may not pay attention to, similar to prompt messages and video name transcripts, or another content material that has not been centralized in a searchable knowledge repository.

“Darkish knowledge is knowledge that’s not below administration, or on a company useful resource the place it may be found,” mentioned Brian Remmington, CTO at Hyland, which supplies enterprise content material administration options. “As soon as found, darkish knowledge is not darkish knowledge.”  SEE: Navigating data privacy (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Throughout the COVID pandemic, many organizations have been working in extremely distributed and distant environments. This has boosted darkish knowledge progress. “Staff additionally use company-appointed laptops for all the things from video calls to sharing paperwork and accessing e-mail,” Remmington mentioned. “This creates an extreme quantity of darkish knowledge that looms in firm storage. As well as, staff could copy centralized content material to their native laptops and never add it after altering it.”Remmington believes that the issue with the rising quantity of darkish knowledge will at all times be managing it and ensuring it is revisited and leveraged appropriately for enterprise intelligence and governance functions. Moreover, when staff depart the enterprise, enterprises danger a lack of mental property or company reminiscence by lacking darkish knowledge.How severe is the chance of not managing darkish knowledge?First, not having your darkish knowledge below administration can create authorized, safety and compliance dangers. What if your organization is in a lawsuit and should get to this knowledge as a part of the authorized discovery course of?Second, not accessing darkish knowledge can lead key resolution makers into making the improper choices for the group.Third, important waste may result. This waste comes within the type of misplaced worker productiveness as a result of it’s going to take them longer to seek for and acquire the data they want. Storage prices additionally enhance, as a result of storing knowledge with out utilizing it’s wasteful.Fourth, the darkish knowledge downside contributes to enterprise knowledge silos. “The primary goal must be discovering darkish knowledge in order that it may be labeled and managed appropriately, and doubtlessly analyzed for enterprise intelligence,” Remmington mentioned. “One of many key issues to look at is how every silo of darkish knowledge got here to be that means, and to establish processes and tooling that may assist stop it from occurring sooner or later.” One proactive strategy that firms can use to scale back darkish knowledge is to create knowledge safekeeping insurance policies for workers and practice and retrain staff on these insurance policies. SEE: Electronic data retention policy (TechRepublic Premium)Audits may also be performed to make sure that knowledge (and knowledge adjustments) are synchronized between particular person work stations and central knowledge repositories.Each of those steps will help to remove the “darkish holes” in enterprise data that darkish knowledge creates.”It’ll be some time earlier than darkish knowledge disappears,” Remmington acknowledged. “However within the meantime, organizations ought to do their finest to sort out their knowledge being created in actual time as they work by way of backlogs of knowledge. In the long term, this may assist companies attain their targets.”

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