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Data Hoarding (Digital Hoarding) Risks

From on-site data storage to cloud computing, businesses are hoarding more data than ever before. That’s not inherently a bad thing; data is one of the most valuable commodities a business owns and earning that data can take a great deal of time and effort. However, storing large amounts of data can pose obvious security and compliance risks that can leave businesses vulnerable to breaches. So far in 2017, cybercrime has already cost the global economy over 69 billion dollars, and 1 in 10 businesses have experienced a security breach. If you think your small business isn’t at risk, it may be time to reconsider.

Why are small businesses so vulnerable to data theft?

Small businesses are just as vulnerable as large ones. A staggering 43% of all cyber-attacks in the last year were aimed at businesses with less than 250 staff.

Many of the immediate problems stem from data structuring, or lack thereof. Businesses know that data is important, but if you can’t assign value to that data or organise it in a meaningful way it quickly stacks up. Poor data is kept instead of deleted, records can be easily duplicated and the governance and management of information start to spiral.  This can lead to immediate issues with compliance, as well as long-term vulnerability to cyber attacks. On average, 80% of a company’s content is unstructured or ‘scattered’ and therefore vulnerable to security breaches and cyber attacks.

Scattered content is surprisingly common in small to medium sized businesses. A cyberattack does not discriminate and will target any business that has vulnerabilities, so it’s essential to have adequate security measures in place. However, those security measures can only work effectively if data sets are organised by their value and sensitivity.  Data should be categorised so that security processes are able to identify, record and, if necessary, encrypt files to keep them safe both inside and outside of your network.

Organisation is the key to data security

How can small businesses protect their data?

The key to solving the issue of ‘data hoarding’ is to take back control of your data. Use business insights to ascertain what data means, how valuable it is and whether it should be kept or deleted. Not all data has long-term benefits, and many problems stem from keeping useless data which congests the system and makes it harder to govern.  Rather than giving complete control of data management to an individual person or department within your business, instead try to take a cohesive approach to spread responsibility and minimise the risk. The potential cost of a security breach or internal error could be enormous, so it’s essential that all departments and employees understand best practice data handling. Of course, data access is also a primary concern. You don’t want a network security solution that’s going to make life difficult for your staff. Data and content should be easily accessible to those who need it (and have the right privileges), and workflows should not be disrupted. In many cases, productivity levels can actually be enhanced by a good security solution – data will be more organised and easier to find as a direct result.

Instead of seeing data as a problem that must be managed, embrace it. Securing your data and organising it will make your business more agile and streamline your operations. What’s more, you’ll be able to focus on the day-to-day management of your business without having to worry about potential cyber attacks.

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