Why you need to know your data and how intelligent data discovery can help

CEO and co-founder of one of the first data intelligence platforms, GrandIDand a privacy, security and identity expert.

In today’s digital economy, data is the fuel that powers the modern business. Data is at the center of the vast collaborative network that drives commerce and monetization, as well as communication and business growth.

As the world moves more and more online, and the remote workforce has rapidly accelerated this change, data growth has practically (so to speak) exploded. We work online, socialize online, relax online, and many of us even sleep online. Governing, securing, maintaining, and even knowing all of this data has become a critical task given the outdated manual strategies that many companies still maintain. Even the growing momentum behind a new regulatory landscape cannot keep pace with data being created and collected, shared and processed, mined and forgotten every hour of every day.

As the data flowing into the digital ether increases, so does the importance of managing it. The faster we work to manage data, the more we can not only leverage it effectively, but also successfully use it to develop better AI, generate more informed business intelligence, and accelerate digital transformation.

The regulatory landscape

We’ve all heard that data is the new oil. Unlike oil, however, data is personal. It can describe recipes and patents. It can be privileged or top secret. It may be prohibited from transfer or sale. In the spirit of protecting this data – and the privacy of those connected to it – a growing regulatory landscape has emerged.

In recent years, the number of regulations covering digital data has exploded beyond PCI and HIPAA standards. New laws such as GDPR, CCPA and GLBA, as well as restrictions on cross-border data transfers, have taken center stage, transforming the way businesses incorporate regulatory compliance into their daily operations.

Migrate data to the cloud

Storing, maintaining, and protecting data from malicious actors doesn’t come cheap, and when migrating to cloud environments, organizations need to take extra care to secure data and maintain privacy. In cloud migration initiatives, companies need to know what data goes where, what data is left behind, and what data is staged to be remedied or deleted, and why.

Get more value from your data

Data is the currency of digital commerce, and modern businesses depend on efficient and accurate business intelligence, analytics, artificial intelligence, and data marketing. This requires data trust, meaning trust in the accuracy and quality of all data in the organization.

Businesses need to know how to get the right data to the right person for the right purpose. To do this, they need an accurate picture of where the data resides, as well as what data is valuable and what is not. The necessary level of visibility can be achieved through an efficient and continuously updated inventory of your most critical data assets.

Deeper data intelligence enables you to get more value from your data through advanced data discovery. Advanced discovery enables enterprises to examine all of their data, whether in the data center or in the cloud, from structured, unstructured, or semi-structured sources, and finally, in motion or at rest. By discovering and classifying all their data, organizations can search not only by metadata, but also by sensitivity and risk. They can get an integrated view of data quality that leads to data trust and reliability. And they can adopt and operationalize a data governance and control framework.

Reduce risk

Unlike oil, data is not made up of the same “substance”, so it is not interchangeable and cannot always be treated in the same way. One person’s data is not the same as another person’s data, and one person’s health data is not the same as that same person’s financial data.

To minimize risk, companies must first determine this, for all types of data in the enterprise. They must classify data by type and sensitivity to measure its risk and enable action on it, whether that means configuring it for correction, deletion, encryption or archiving.

Businesses also need to consider who has access to what data. When dealing with sensitive or confidential data, companies should consider whether those accessing it have the appropriate privileges or whether such access violates data sovereignty or transfer prohibitions.

Knowing all your data is necessary to minimize risk to your organization, but you can’t protect what you can’t find. Accurately identifying data, classifying it by type, restricting access to it only to privileged users, and implementing remediation workflows that will keep the attack surface as small as possible help organizations mitigate risk, and it all starts with deeper discovery.

Preserve confidentiality

Since the GDPR, privacy laws in more than 120 countries around the world have been adopted or are in a development phase. While the exact letter of each of these laws varies, they all include limitations on how organizations collect, process, share and store data, and for how long. These requirements also bring new obligations around data rights, capturing cookie preferences, and selling and sharing data. In the world of data privacy, you not only need to know what you have, but who owns it.

Data powers the new digital enterprise

Discovering and knowing your data is especially relevant when it comes to the cloud, where data can span multiple data centers and locations. As more companies launch digital transformation efforts and migrate to the cloud, organizations face increased pressure to identify their high-value data while reducing data risk.

To enable this change and adapt to the growing demands for privacy and protection that are spreading around the world, companies must adjust their approach to compliance, security and governance. It starts with knowing your data, and it can start with intelligent data discovery.

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