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Report: Growth Of Digital Data Could Overwhelm Security

IDC "Digital Universe" study says volume of data is vastly outgrowing the resources available to protect it

The good news is that there will be plenty of job openings for security pros in the digital universe of the coming years, according to a report published today. The bad news is that those security pros are going to have their work cut out for them.

According to the annual "Digital Universe" report published by International Data Corp. (IDC), the volume of data created by individuals and businesses continues to multiply, doubling every 18 months. At its current rate, the universe of content created across the globe will grow fivefold " from 486 exabytes to more than 2,500 exabytes " by the end of 2012.

That might be good news for information-seekers " as well as storage companies like EMC, which sponsored the study " but it creates some problems for security people, according the the IDC study.

According to the study, about 70 percent of the data that's being added to the digital universe is being created by individuals who can develop content for free and have no responsibility to secure it. But about 85 percent of that data will eventually be pulled into corporate or organizational environments that will assume the responsibility for security and privacy of the data, IDC says.

And the data that is being created is increasing in its sensitivity, according to the report. In 2008, only about a third of the data in the digital universe was "security-intense," according to IDC's definition. In 2012, that figure will be around 45 percent, the study says. "Compliance-intensive" data will grow from 25 percent to 35 percent in that timeframe; "preservation-intense" data will grow from 22 percent to 38 percent, IDC says. An increasing percentage of the data will be unstructured.

While the growth of data continues to be staggering, the budget for additional IT and security personnel will likely grow only slightly during the next five years, notes Brian Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing at RSA, the security division of EMC. "While people continue to find ways to make information more valuable " and the attack surface is growing astronomically -- the budget to secure and defend it is hardly growing at all," he says

This paradox means that both vendors and enterprises will have to look more closely at methods for automating security and compliance processes, as the volume of data quickly outstrips the resources of the people who are hired to secure it, Fitzgerald observes. "We're going to have to find ways to find the sensitive data and do risk assessment in real time, because there won't be any way to secure it all," he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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