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As the volume of data held by organizations grows exponentially, data security and privacy are an increasingly important issue.

And data privacy doesn’t happen without data visibility.

A recent article from TechRadar explains the concept and why it’s instrumental to an organization’s overall data strategy.

Gaining true data visibility means an organi[z]ation knows where their data is, how it’s being used, who’s sharing it and for what purpose.

This emphasis on data privacy applies not only to organizations complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the nearly year-old European framework, but to those doing business in the U.S. and around the world. It’s only a matter of time before GDPR-like regulations are implemented elsewhere, as even tech executives like Google’s Satya Nadella are pushing for consistency and clarity.

Starting with Visibility

Data visibility is more difficult than ever, TechRadar says, because data extends beyond user endpoints and traditional security perimeters to include cloud collaboration services.

Computers and file shares are overflowing with critical and sensitive data such as national identification numbers, credit card information and intellectual property. It is estimated that 80% of organizational data is unstructured data, meaning it is loose in file shares, cloud repositories or on the physical endpoints themselves. And that unstructured data is growing at an annual rate of 63%.

But with the proper tools and expertise, organizations can improve data visibility and, in turn, data security and privacy.

Data Privacy + Data Security + Proper Data Handling + Accurate Data Inventory = TRUE VISIBILITY

True Visibility

TechRadar points to two key problem areas that organizations can look to correct.

  1. Quite simply, organizations should get serious about data security and data visibility.
  2. Organizations should implement appropriate data handling practices to ensure data is always used and shared properly—“or face the penalties,” the article notes.

Without the proper security tools to achieve data visibility, companies won’t be able to implement a sustainable auditing process, which is necessary in order to validate that they are using data in line with their data privacy program.

Achieving Visibility

GDPR and other regulatory measures are not a one-time hurdle to clear but rather an ongoing concern. It’s critical to implement programs, processes and technologies to provide continuing visibility.

TechRadar says key solutions should:

  • Provide point-in-time, comprehensive data inventory so companies always know where their most important data is located. Manual data inventories are no longer sustainable due to the speed at which data moves and evolves within an organi[z]ation.
  • Monitor file exfiltration activity to provide full visibility into all files being moved or shared with external parties.
  • Preserve files to satisfy security investigations and retention requirements related to compliance and legal needs.
  • Audit data use. Most companies don’t take this important step to verify they are using data in line with the data privacy policies they set.

Organizations should anticipate regulations and understand that the U.S. is trending toward a nationwide data privacy framework akin to GDPR. Running afoul will be costly.

€50 million: Google’s fine for GDPR violations

It’s important to have the right data privacy programs in place and to leverage the right technology tools.

Remember, it all begins with knowing where the data is and how it’s being used and shared.

Heureka provides visibility

Heureka has an invaluable part to play when it comes to visibility. First, Heureka is designed from the ground up to deal with unstructured data. As noted, true visibility and understanding can only occur when you have a accurate data inventory. Most companies cannot account for their unstructured data inventory which leaves many with a digital blind spot within the organization.

Second, Heureka’s index and classification engine provides deep understanding around data content such as PII which is the real key to visibility. Most companies struggle to create an inventory let alone understand the content contained within their unstructured data environment.

Heureka provides the gateway to total visibility by creating a full text and metadata index which remains local to each endpoint. This provides both data privacy and security by not copying or centralizing data to a new location in order to understand content. Using a single interface, users obtain broad, accurate data inventories as well as potential risk contained within their desktops, laptops or file shares. Finally, Heureka provides tools to remediate data risk and perform data hygiene by cleaning up ROT (redundant, obsolete, trivial) setting companies up for tighter data privacy and security practices.