Data-related Challenges

Storage Safety: 5 reasons why digital waste is a cyber security issue

Post by
Pavel Stanek
Storage Safety: 5 reasons why digital waste is a cyber security issue

Storage Safety: 5 reasons why digital waste (dark data) is a cyber security issue

With the emergence of cloud-based software, keeping data safe now needs more than just basic password protection and firewalls. The data your business keeps online, from emails to financial details, is your most precious commodity and can be worth millions in fines to the government if a breach is found.

Recently, Australian private and public organisations have been targets of cyber attacks that exposed the vulnerability of these institutions. In response to its cyber security issues, the NSW government is seeking perspectives from industry experts and businesses to help them shape the state's next cyber security strategy. They've also created a special taskforce of experts from different sectors to accelerate the adoption of industry cyber security standards across Australia, which highlights the importance of the issue.

Minimising the potential surface area of attack

So what does this have to do with digital waste? Well, as the age-old adage says:

'One man's trash is another man's treasure.'

So yes, even your digital waste, clutter, dark data, or whatever you may call it, is a security risk and how you manage it should be a top priority in your business plan - i.e. optimising/minimising attack surface area. So here are 5 reasons why digital waste is an important part of keeping your stock safe.

Fasade - Multi-cloud data management platform | Dark & Unstructured data | Improve cyber security by reducing the potential surface area of attack

1. Money

Rather than income, this is referring to the $1.4 million dollar fine that you might be faced with if you have a breach and don’t have a standard operating procedure to prove that you manage your cyber security. How do you get this fine waived? By self-reporting. The fact of the matter is you can’t report what you don’t know you have, so the more digital waste you hold onto, the harder it will be to report.

2. Customer relations

Also known as trust, this is an essential part of doing business and could have catastrophic effects on business. Most customers expect their data to become obsolete- this rarely, if ever, happens. Over 50 million Facebook accounts were compromised over two years, which saw almost no decline in usage. Then again, they have everyone’s dog photos, making it practically impossible to delete accounts.

3. Lazy leaks

Ever had a job so big that you didn’t want to do it at all? The sheer immensity of data that is placed on the cloud and forgotten creates a general feeling of inertia. Humans can see even small collections of redundant, outdated, trivial, unused or duplicate files and get overwhelmed. This leads to carelessness and that increases your cyberattack surface area. Keep it concise, and Marie Kondo your data for everyone’s sake.

4. Secondary targeting

Your associated networks are potential treasure troves of data. Staff, third party providers, and suppliers can be potential leaks if you aren’t aware of every inch of data that you store. When you consider that more than 50% of the internet is duplicate, then search for a file and only find one copy, it is worth asking who else might have another copy.

5. Legality

Namely, the Australian Privacy Act 1988 and, if you have anything to do with Europe or even sell to anyone in the European Union, then you also answer to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Legal action is again a money issue in both legal fees and resources, particularly if you end up dealing with someone from the EU and need to spend some money on international lawyers.

Sustainable data management practices

So while all of this can seem a bit daunting, the future is nigh, and just as quickly as software appeared to bring us onto the cloud, the software to support us for efficient and clean cloud living is fast approaching. Have your current cyber security plan assessed by your IT manager and then ask about redundant, outdated or trivial files and digital waste. If you can be aware of what you have, then you can be mindful of how to keep an eye on it and where there may be potential leaks or back end entry points for hackers.

Review the data and digital assets that you keep and then draw up the losses that you could face if you had a breach from a potential attack. Then consider how much it would cost you to manage your waste so that your cloud storage is airtight. Once you know what needs to happen, you can get a digital Marie Kondo to come in and take care of all the digital waste that doesn’t spark joy.

How do you manage your data and protect it? Comment below to us know! 

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