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Survey: Unstructured Data a Security Nightmare

New Ponemon Institute report finds organizations don't have a grip on access to data on file servers, network-attached storage

Organizations aren’t only worried about database breaches: Only 23 percent think their unstructured data is secured, and 89 percent say controlling access to their spreadsheets, Word documents, audio and video files, instant messages, and Web pages, is tougher than for structured (database) data, according to a new study from the Ponemon Institute.

They say their data access controls for unstructured data aren’t tight enough. Over 70 percent say employees unnecessarily get access to some data; 46 percent said that employees, temporary employees and contractors “often” have too much access to the organization’s unstructured data; and 24 percent say that this is the case “very often,” according to the study commissioned by Varonis, which sells data governance tools for unstructured data.

“Our study exposes a serious flaw in the data security processes of many companies in that inadequate data governance may afford improper access to sensitive information by unauthorized individuals,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. Unstructured information is often found on file servers and network-attached storage, for instance.

Over 90 percent of the respondents say they don’t have a process for determining who owns what data, and 76 percent can’t figure out who can access unstructured data, according to the report. Over 60 percent say they don’t have a monitoring process to watch who is accessing which unstructured data.

“They are concerned about their unstructured data... but they don’t do much about it” right now, says Raphael Reich, director of product marketing for Varonis. “They are either doing it manually, or outsourcing it to consulting firms.”

The Ponemon Institute estimates that the U.S. market for products and technology for securing unstructured data is about $3.16 billion.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Ponemon Institute LLC
  • Varonis Systems Inc.
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