It is no secret that almost every organization regardless of its size has growing amounts of unstructured data that reside almost everywhere. The BIG unknown is what useful information, if any, these data repositories contain and what value, cost or risk they present. Using Symantec Data Insight 4.0, organizations can better understand the data that resides within their Dark Data repositories, the context in which it is being used, and then take informed actions to better manage and secure this data.
The Era of Dark Data
A decade of unchecked unstructured data growth is taking its toll on organizations. Technologies such as archiving, deduplication, scale-out storage systems and even tape have resulted in organizations storing hundreds of terabytes if not petabytes of data. This has created an even bigger issue: they are in the dark as to what data they have.
This problem promises to only get worse. Gartner finds that unstructured data is growing at a faster pace than relational databases and already accounts for over half of all data storage. Organizations continuously collect and store more unstructured data in email PST files as well as on file servers and SharePoint repositories.
Particularly unnerving to organizations is their inability to fully discern the nature of this data. As they store it, they lack meaningful insight into the data’s context. Some of the data may be valuable. Some of it may simply take up space and need to be deleted. In still other cases the data may be unnecessarily exposed and improperly accessed. If organizations are to glean the value of this data as well as effectively manage and secure their data stores, they need to:
- Identify what the data is
- Analyze what relevance if any it has to the organization
- Take the appropriate course of action whether that be archiving, deleting or securing the data
Data Insight 4.0 Sheds Light on Dark Data’s Context
Symantec Data Insight 4.0 provides the tool that organizations need to first understand the context in which data in their Dark Data repositories is being created, used and shared. Using Data Insight 4.0, organizations can establish:
- What data is being stored and where
- Who has access to it
- How it is being accessed and used
- Who owns the data
Having this knowledge helps organizations understand their unstructured data stores and enables them to put in place the people and processes necessary for effective data governance. Data Insight also tracks application access and user activity to data over time so they can understand how data in their Dark Data repositories is being accessed, how frequently it is accessed and in what context.
To establish which applications and/or users are accessing data, Data Insight integrates with Microsoft Active Directory (AD), LDAP and NIS/NIS+ to monitor, record and report on exactly who or what is accessing data in these Dark Data repositories. Once it captures these data access and usage patterns, the current or future value of this data as well as the risks associated by their access to this data becomes more apparent.
For instance, an organization may conclude that the stored Dark Data offers little or no value, presents no risk and may be either archived or deleted. On the other hand, they may discover that questionable or unauthorized access to some of the Dark Data is occurring.
Organizations can also leverage Data Insight 4.0’s improved integration with Symantec Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to better assess and remedy a situation where access to sensitive data is occurring. DLP first examines the content of files in Dark Data repositories to determine which ones contain sensitive data (social security numbers, account numbers, credit card numbers, etc.) Once DLP completes this assessment, Data Insight 4.0 through its new integration with DLP directly sends notifications to administrators with instructions on how to correct these data exposures so the organization can better protect itself from unauthorized data access.
Dark Data Analysis Drives Remediation
This is only example of how Data Insight 4.0 equips organizations with the information and tools they need to remediate security deficiencies. The first step many organizations will take when utilizing Data Insight 4.0 is to simply identify who or what department owns the data. Changes in corporate structures (employees change jobs, get promoted, leave the company, etc.) coupled with the age of the data itself can make it unclear as to who owns the data. Data Insight’s inferred data ownership analysis helps organizations quickly identify and engage data owners.
The next step is regaining control of access permissions. Access permissions to data of existing Dark Data repositories may be no longer relevant or have become excessive over time. Data Insight 4.0 now arms organizations with the information they need to align data access to their real world business need. By using Data Insight to document the data’s effective permissions along with who is accessing the data, an organization can determine whether or not this access is warranted.
Should access to the data need to change, organizations may then leverage Data Insight’s access history and “What if” analysis to determine the impact of the change thus eliminating the risk of making the change. Organizations may also use Data Insight to monitor and detect unauthorized activity that either violates policy or arises from permissions inconsistencies. By combining Data Insight’s analysis with DLP, organizations may prioritize securing access to their most critical data.
During the process to secure access to data, organizations will often find that they have large amounts of data that is either not being used, is orphan or is not valid business data. Having established the data’s relevance or lack thereof, Data Insight also now integrates with Symantec Enterprise Vault so organizations may take action on that data directly from within Data Insight.
Using the Data Insight management console, organizations may select what data they want to remediate and then archive the content into Enterprise Vault. Organizations can further understand the data owners and the context of the data use to determine data retention periods. Knowing exactly what data has been accessed and by who becomes extremely helpful as organizations build a legal defense.
Understanding which data is active and stale also helps organizations optimize what storage tiers they should use for their Dark Data repositories. Data Insight provides a remediation framework that gives organizations the flexibility to implement custom actions such as disposition or migration.
Data Insight 4.0 Takes Control of Dark Data
Data Insight 4.0 helps organizations take control of their Dark Data with new discovery, analysis and remediation capabilities. The interactive contextual navigation of the data and the flexible query interface shed light on Dark Data. Advanced analysis capabilities and “What if” modeling help more easily and effectively put Dark Data in its place. Data Insight 4 monitors file share and SharePoint repositories and provides the actionable intelligence that organizations need to control costs and risk as well as realize the value of their unstructured data.
Data Insight’s new remediation framework enables organizations to put in motion the steps needed to restrict and/or remove access to data throug
h its integration with DLP or even archive Dark Data using Enterprise Vault. This gives organizations new flexibility to implement custom actions so should they determine data poses a risk, has no business value and no longer needs to be retained, they may confidently move ahead with performing the right action on the data.
Equally notably, as organizations think more strategically about their overall data management strategy, Data Insight falls nicely in line with Symantec’s publicly stated goal to deliver a more cohesive set of software. This release more closely brings together Data Insight, Data Loss Prevention and Enterprise Vault reflects this renewed emphasis within Symantec and helps position organizations to centrally manage their data.
Organizations no longer need to feel in the dark about the data contained in their burgeoning unstructured data stores. Using Data Insight 4 they can start to put an end to the era of Dark Data that many find themselves in and replace it with a new era of enlightenment that puts them firmly in control of their data.