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Unstructured Data Risk – What Experts Say

Author: Tim Steele
Unstructured data risk
The chaotic nature of unstructured data makes compliance difficult.

The danger of unstructured data

According to Unstructured data makes compliance with (data privacy) difficult because it is not easily organized or processed.

The big (unstructured) data problem

Forbes, Juliette Rizkallah, Forbes Councils Member – Forbes Technology Council. Right now, enterprises are woefully unprepared. Nearly 80% of enterprises have very little visibility into what’s happening across their unstructured data, let alone how to manage it. Enterprises are simply not ready to protect data in this form because they don’t understand just how much they have. Worse yet, they don’t even know what lies within those unstructured data files or who owns these files. Based on a recent survey created by my company, as many as 71% of enterprises are struggling with how to manage and protect unstructured data.

Risk levels of structured versus unstructured data, Paula Musich: from Data Risk Management, Part 3: Assessing Risk Levels of Structured Versus Unstructured Data

Unstructured Data Is an Easy Target – Cybercriminals are aware that critical unstructured data is a much easier target for theft than structured data protected by corporate firewalls, identity and access controls, encryption, and database activity monitoring. Organizations struggle to understand where critical unstructured data is, how it is used and who has access to it, so it represents a bigger risk to the enterprise.

Why unstructured data is putting your organization at risk

The SHI Blog, SHI Staff: Herein lies the problem with unstructured data: Managing it is an extremely costly endeavor. You’re likely spending a lot of money to store files that are obsolete or duplicates.

Unstructured data risk

Gartner Research estimates that it costs $5 million annually to manage 1 petabyte of data.

Unstructured data compliance: obstacles and solutions, Stephen Pritchard. “Stored unstructured data could be a black hole full of unknown risk.” says Neil Harris, head of technical services at law firm DWF. “Data retention is a key one: you are likely to have some data for longer than you should.”

This “data debt”, he suggests, is unlikely to attract regulatory penalties, unless the data is lost or stolen. “If you don’t know what you have or where it is, you can’t protect it,” he warns.

Unstructured data: the threat you cannot see, Charles Fullwood: Unstructured Data: The Threat You Cannot See – Why security teams needs to take a cognitive approach to the increasing volumes of data flowing from sources they don’t control.

By 2022, 93% of all data will be unstructured. Traditional security focuses on mitigating external threats — perimeter defenses to ward off the bad guys. As such, we often focus our security strategies on firewalls, antivirus software, and secure passwords. Security innovation has almost always had this perimeter philosophy at its core. However, a myopic focus on perimeter protection severely limits the overall security strategy, potentially rendering it ineffective without complementary, proactive measures in place.

Don’t forget content in your data privacy strategy

DATAVERSITY, Kyle McNabb: Most (organizations) have neglected to account for unstructured data and content. With the explosive growth of records and the widespread remote workforce, there is a vast volume of unstructured data living in documents and records. If organizations continue to leave unstructured data out of privacy efforts, then organizations will not only fail to comply, but also struggle to thrive – even survive – in the post-pandemic, digital world.

According to a 2020 AIIM study, the amount of information coming into organizations will increase up to 4.5 times in the next 18 to 24 months – and 60 percent of that data will be unstructured.

The truth about unstructured data

According to, Deborah Kish: The first step is discovery, using a scanning process to analyze file information across enterprise files, discovering unprotected files and looking for sensitive information.

Heureka’s platform enables unstructured data compliance

  1. Discovery/Inventory – Map, index, classify & tag unstructured data by context, file type and date
  2. Data Retention Enforcement – files can now be dispositioned based on file create and/or modified date
  3. Defensible Data Deletion – Classification tags assigned to each file indicate retention or file disposal.
  4. DSARs & Breach Management – supporting and enabling DSAR management and breach response workflows
Unstructured Data Risk

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Unstructured Data Risk – What Experts Say

Unstructured Data Risk – What Experts Say