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DFIN DealMaker Meter: Surge in 'Dark Data' Represents Growing Danger for Corporations

This legacy of corporations' appetite for data is not worth the risk, leaders say, emphasizing the need to find, secure and redact records

CHICAGO and NEW YORK, Oct. 6, 2022 -- Dark data represents the biggest potential cybersecurity exposure for U.S. and U.K. businesses, according to a special cybersecurity edition of the DealMaker Meter report, "Understanding Risk: The Dark Side of Data," from Donnelley Financial Solutions (NYSE: DFIN), a leading risk and compliance company. Defined as data that a company has collected but no longer needs — ranging from outdated customer information to old employee records — dark data is often forgotten and unprotected by corporations, creating substantial liabilities as well as tempting targets for cyber criminals.

The rise in dark data has accompanied corporations' increased interest in accumulating a wide variety of data sets (often called Big Data), which can be used to improve marketing, product development, customer service and a host of other activities. Dark data can be unstructured, sensitive, personal, regulated, vulnerable or high-risk information an organization has collected and stored over time.

Nearly seven of 10 enterprise leaders surveyed said data storage presents more risk than value. But while 33 percent of senior leaders and IT personnel are aware of the risks of dark data, 18 percent of others within organizations are less knowledgeable.

In addition to worrying about managing dark data, 96 percent of executives are concerned about data fraud and 95 percent are worried data breach incidents will increase over the next two years. Rightfully so, given more than half have experienced an incident this year and others indicated they had more than five data breaches and/or data fraud incidents this past year.

One key takeaway from the report is that IT departments should deploy technologies to better find, secure and redact dark data.

Other key findings include:

  • Preparing for Tomorrow: Company leaders are focused on improving how their companies protect sensitive data, with 77 percent enacting new policies and processes, 72 percent increasing reporting measures and 75 percent investing in partners and software and solutions. 
  • Technology First: To enhance protection, more than 83 percent indicated they would choose new technology tools over adding more team members, the choice of just 17 percent.

Containing insights from a blue-ribbon panel of finance, legal, HR and IT professionals at large public and private companies in the U.S. and U.K., the special fall edition of the DealMaker Meter is an online tool that provides a snapshot of cybersecurity and dark data concerns. It is designed to help business decision-makers better understand key topics impacting their industry and the world around them.

"This report shows that the appetite for Big Data within corporations has a cost," said Dannie Combs, Chief Information Security Officer at DFIN. "Our clients are increasingly turning to us to help mitigate the risks associated with dark data. We are seeing an influx of requests from companies to leverage virtual data rooms as corporate repositories to store, secure and manage data across departments including finance, legal, HR and R&D. Our Data Protect software is used globally by clients to cost-effectively find and redact dark data across disparate IT systems."

This special fall edition of the DealMaker Meter, "Understanding Risk: The Dark Side of Data," is available for download on the DFIN website here.

About Donnelley Financial Solutions (DFIN)

DFIN is a leading global risk and compliance solutions company. We provide domain expertise, enterprise software and data analytics for every stage of our clients' business and investment lifecycles. Markets fluctuate, regulations evolve, technology advances, and through it all, DFIN delivers confidence with the right solutions in moments that matter. Learn about DFIN's end-to-end risk and compliance solutions online at DFINsolutions.com or you can also follow us on Twitter @DFINSolutions or on LinkedIn.